CRE Midwest

Profile: Arthur J. Rogers & Co. celebrates 70 years in the business

It was 1945, World War II was coming to a close, the Chicago Cubs were in their last World Series (at which the infamous “curse of the Billy Goat” was cast), and the Chicago Transit Authority was created. It was time in which the economy grew rapidly, with widespread prosperity and increasing employment wages. A substantial number of the nation’s farmers were also migrating to live in towns and cities. As the wage and price controls imposed during the war expired, Arthur J. Rogers recognized the potential for phenomenal economic growth in Chicago as well as its suburbs.

It was 1945, World War II was coming to a close, the Chicago Cubs were in their last World Series (at which the infamous “curse of the Billy Goat” was cast), and the Chicago Transit Authority was created. It was time in which the economy grew rapidly, with widespread prosperity and increasing employment wages. A substantial number of the nation’s farmers were also migrating to live in towns and cities. As the wage and price controls imposed during the war expired, Arthur J. Rogers recognized the potential for phenomenal economic growth in Chicago as well as its suburbs.

At the time, Rogers worked for the Lifesaver Company, but having been declined a raise, he turned his sights to entrepreneurialism. In that promising yet challenging climate, Rogers founded Reliable Heating, a heating service company.  Success came quickly and soon the small firm expanded into a speculative commercial real estate development company known today as Arthur J. Rogers & Co., with Rogers at the helm. While Interstate 294 was only in its beginning stages and Orchard Place —known today as O’Hare International Airport—was merely a landing strip for a Douglas Aircraft manufacturing plant, Rogers was confident of the market’s potential and became an early pioneer in developing office buildings in the region.

In the early 1950s, the company began its first large scale project in the northwest suburbs upon the purchase of several tracts of prairie land near O’Hare International Airport. It was these land acquisitions and the subsequent developments that launched Chicago commercial real estate’s O’Hare market as we know it today. Arthur J. Rogers & Co. spent the next decade playing a major role in the evolution of the area from grasslands into one of the country's most vibrant, diverse and economically stable commercial corridors.

In 1969, William G. Schmitz, RPA, and the current President/Partner of the firm, joined Arthur J. Rogers & Co. as a Property Manager and assisted with the firm’s growing development portfolio. Throughout the 1970s, the firm continued to develop both industrial and office properties in the northwest suburbs including the O’Hare Office Center and O’Hare Lake Office Plaza, in Des Plaines, Illinois and Rogers Industrial Park in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. During this time, the company’s developments totaled more than 1.7 million square feet of new commercial real estate property.

As the firm advanced through the 1970s, it began offering property management, construction, and brokerage services to complement its development activities. In 1977, Jeanne Rogers, CCIM, SIOR, current Executive Vice President/Partner and daughter of Mr. Rogers, joined the firm as a real estate broker and quickly earned her CCIM designation. She was the 4th woman in Illinois to receive the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation from the National Association of Realtors, one of the highest designations given to individuals specializing in commercial/industrial real estate. Jeanne also holds the SIOR designation. Her sister, Kathi Rogers, current Vice President/Partner, joined the firm in 1982, to work in the construction division, and today is responsible for all construction operations for the company.

Since the 1980’s Arthur J. Rogers & Co. has continued its activities as a full-service real estate company, even adding space planning and interior design to its service offerings with the hiring of another sister, Connie Kennelly, ASID, an AutoCAD specialist and current Executive Vice President/Partner in 1990. Connie holds an NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) certified license designation, and is responsible for all space planning and interior design work for the company.

With the addition of new core service offerings, Arthur J. Rogers & Co. fast became a leading full-service commercial real estate company in the Chicago area. The firm has developed more than ten million square feet of industrial, office and flex product throughout the suburban market. While many of the firm’s parks remain in existence today, its Des Plaines, Illinois office park was sold several years ago to the developers of the Rivers Casino, which now occupies the former office park.

Today the firm employs more than 50 skilled professionals, from property managers to an electrical contractor and manages its six business parks including Rogers Business Parke in Elgin, Illinois; Rogers Centre for Commerce East and West in Buffalo Grove, Illinois; Rogers Executive Parke I and II in Vernon Hills, Illinois; and Rogers Industrial Park in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. In addition to general contracting, facility and property management, the company is also very active in the industrial real estate market offering a comprehensive range of services including building, site, and land acquisitions/disposition; and tenant representation in sale or lease negotiations. The firm also provides site selection and investment sales within the commercial, industrial, retail, and healthcare industries.

While Chicago has continued to change since 1945, Arthur J. Rogers & Co. remains true to its founding principles of personalized service, global vision and ingenuity. Rogers' commitment to quality developments and creating value for investors and tenants would ultimately define the man, his company and his way of doing business. Today, William Schmitz, Jeanne Rogers, Kathi Rogers, Connie Kennelly and their team continue the vision that began 70 years ago and remain dedicated to fostering Chicago’s dynamic commercial real estate market. The firm has left an indelible mark on the industrial community and with no signs of slowing down, it’s sure to continue its successful legacy.