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Honoring an IREM champion

IREM remembers Malcolm “Mac” Bates, CPM®

By Journal of Property Management
Richmond, Virginia / Malcolm "Mac" Bates, CPM®
Richmond, Virginia / Malcolm "Mac" Bates, CPM®

In 2024, central business districts (CBDs) in many cities are dealing with the challenges created by empty office space as more and more people work from home. Malcolm “Mac” Bates, CPM®, 1995 IREM President, addressed a similar situation in his May/June 1995 President’s letter in JPM. Back then, the challenge was that, for the first time, occupancy of suburban office buildings had surpassed that of CBDs. Bates wrote, “To preserve the continued vitality of CBD office markets . . . owners and managers must assume a more proactive role. They must take aggressive action to compete with the perceived convenience and safety that the suburbs have come to represent.”

Bates, who passed away on March 16, had a lifelong passion for real estate and the significant role that property managers and IREM can hold in every community. Bates was born in Richmond, Virginia, on Dec. 12, 1946. He graduated from St. Christopher’s School in 1965 and Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1969. After graduation, he joined his family’s real estate business, Harrison and Bates Inc., founded by his grandfather in 1910, eventually becoming president and vice chairman. Bates became president of the IREM Central Virginia Chapter in 1978 and was an IREM Regional Vice President (RVP) from 1986 to 1988 before becoming the IREM President in 1995. After finishing his term, Bates was IREM Foundation President from 2002–2003 and joined the Foundation Board in 2020.

Jo Anne Corbitt, CPM®, who was the Secretary/Treasurer Nominee when Bates became IREM President in 1995, had worked with Bates for several years by that point. As President, Corbitt said, “Mac had the task of explaining the new education process and courses to the membership and beyond through his chapter visits, national meetings, and NAR meetings. That was a huge task.” Corbitt added, “Mac had a great way about him, in that he always had a good time wherever he went and whatever the challenge was. He was always congenial, willing to listen to everyone, loved a good joke, but got serious about the business of IREM.” Corbitt remembers that Bates was “easy to talk with, dependable, fun to be around, and accessible to all.”

Jack Gallagher, CPM®, 1996 IREM President, got to know Bates well when Gallagher transitioned his RVP duties to Bates at the end of 1985. Gallagher joked that Bates’ standard line to add levity to any situation at this time was, “Look at the mess you left for me.” Gallagher noted that when he was slated to become IREM President in 1995, his company was slow in granting consent for the time and commitment required to take on the role. “So, the Nominating Committee moved Mac up to be the 1993 Secretary/Treasurer and the 1995 President. Then, the following year, with full company support, I became the 1994 Secretary/Treasurer and eventually the 1996 President.” Gallagher added, “For those three years following Mac, doing the work of IREM as Secretary/Treasurer, President-Elect, and President, I’d find a dig or two in there to remind Mac, ‘Look at the mess you left for me!’”

During his tenure as IREM President, in addition to encouraging property managers to make downtown office space more competitive, Bates used his President’s letter space in JPM to:

  • Encourage owners and managers of apartment properties “to make the commitment to amenities and service that will truly make apartment living competitive with home ownership.”
  • Promote the programs and training IREM had available to help property managers comply with OSHA’s new asbestos standards to protect custodial employees and building tenants.
  • Highlight the evolution of JPM as IREM’s flagship publication to provide more comprehensive coverage by both property type and key topics.
  • Comment on HUD’s recent decision to rescind the two-person per bedroom occupancy standard.

Gallagher noted that even after Bates’ time as IREM President, they kept in regular contact, not just about IREM matters, but about the Washington, D.C., NFL team; Bates was a season ticket holder. Gallagher said that at national IREM meetings, when IREM was using the Drake Hotel in Chicago as a base, Bates had a “lobby study group” that would meet far into the night. He said, “We would use each other as resources and exchange property management best practices doing our regular jobs.”

Gallagher noted that Bates’ passion for the importance of IREM’s work continued when Bates was involved with the IREM Foundation. Gallagher said, “Mac carried on the tradition of being the ‘enforcer’ at IREM Past Presidents dinners, collecting a $100 ‘fine’ from any past president who wasn’t wearing their pin, with all collections going to the Foundation.”

In addition to his property management work, Bates was a dedicated member of the Rotary Club of Richmond, where he served as president and treasurer. He also served on the board of directors and as president of Goodwill of Richmond. He was also a lifelong member of St. Stephen’s Church. Bates is survived by his wife of 52 years, Isabel Spilman Bates; his two children; and several grandchildren.

Gallagher said, “Mac always had a story or a joke, and his disposition combined his humor with his serious business focus. Mac loved IREM; he stayed active as a Past President for more than 20 years. Mac was good for IREM and his legacy will include his IREM leadership and commitment to property management education.”

Journal of Property Management

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