As it happened, a few superintendents met and discussed their plight and finally decided to do something about it. It was April 6, 1934 that these men met at 224 West 4th Street, New York and decided to form an organization to help their men.

People vending apples at street corners were a familiar sight, while skilled workers either found themselves doing odd jobs unfamiliar to them or doing nothing and starving.

America held its breath as its immigrant struggled within the economic upheaval. A large number of these immigrants were Scandinavian and a good portion of them were ex-seamen. There were those who had worked as captains, mates, engineers and ordinary seamen. They held jobs on ships from merchant vessels to millionaires’ yachts. Other crafts were represented by carpenters, ship builders and machinists to mention a few. Most of these Scandinavians were well-schooled and learned in their specific trades. Many of these people found themselves seeking jobs in New York’s thousands of apartment and office buildings as porters, handymen and superintendents.

The Scandinavians who were often called Squareheads, had a few setbacks in their early existence. The language barrier was one and the unfamiliarity associated with being in a new land was another. More important, they were not well known in the building trades field. As it happened, a few superintendents met and discussed their plight and finally decided to do something about it. It was April 6, 1934 that these men met at 224 West 4th Street, New York, New York and decided to form an organization to help their men.

Subsequently, a meeting was held on April 20, 1934 at the home of Carl Jensen, 220 West 93rd Street, New York, New York.  With the aid of a friend and attorney, Mr. J. Alex Margolis, 1457 Broadway, New York, New York, (now an Honorary Member) the following superintendents signed a charter and registered it with the ,State of New York in Albany. Thus came about the birth of “The Scandinavian-American Superintendents Guild of New York.” The following men were the twenty original charter members.

Fred Grondal, Gunnar Sunnerberg, Hjalmar Salline. Per .A .. Louing, Axel Berg, Carl Jensen, Lars D. Zetterlund, TorleifChristopherson, Julius Monson, Nils Lagerholm, Olaf Erickson, Robert Jensen William Anderson, George Bohman, Charles Thyberg, O.W Johnson, Holger Widing, Oscar Seaholm, Carl 0. Gustafson and Konrad Norman.

After a few meetings in their own homes, it was deemed appropriate to hold the meetings on a semi-monthly basis, at Yorktille Temple, 157 East 86th Street, New York City. The first President was Robert Jensen and the first order of business was establishing the organizations’ bylaws.

One important article in those by-laws, which was made obligatory, was to help your brother in sickness and distress and to help him obtain employment. In January of 1935 the first Ball was held at the Wivel Restaurant, 224 West 54th Street. It was an outstanding success and has been every year since.

Quickly the membership grew, but jobs were scarce and the members were still not well known in Real Estate circles. In 1937, Henry Johnsen, the then elected President, who had prepared himself for the election by taking a course in Public Speaking, decided upon a course of action. New York Real Estate people were not well informed about this organization up until then.

He would make sure they found out about it in 1937. He wrote letters to every Real Estate office in New York City, with full information of the quality and skill of every member in the Scandinavian-American Superintendents Guild. Lo and behold, inquiries started to come in. Men were placed in jobs, not too well paying jobs, but with an apartment and free gas and electricity.

As a result of this ground work, members of the “Scandinavian-American Superintendent Guild” now hold some of the largest and most important jobs in the trade in New York City.

The early sixties brought about a change in the by-laws that would admit associated members from the “trades.” In 1969 the by-laws were further changed to admit other superintendents as members. In the early 1980’s the membership to the Guild was opened up to non-Scandinavian members. And in 1983 the by-laws were again up-graded for easier understanding of their meaning to all our brothers. Because of these innovations the membership of the Guild continues to increase yearly. The attendance at our Annual Grand Ball and Picnic festivities increases every year and because of this we have had to continually change to larger facilities. At this time it gives me great pleasure to announce that in keeping with the constant changes in the real estate industry, the Guild has decided that we must move forward. Therefore, effective as of March 3,
1990 the new name of our Guild was changed to the Scandinavian American Building Managers Guild.

We began our 57th Anniversary of our Guild at the start of a new decade. The 1990’s will be an exciting time for the Guild. We have started on a concept of education and certification through RAM (Registered Apartment Managers), a nationally certified organization under the auspices of the ABO (Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York).  In the coming years, we hope to have all members of the Guild certified. The watch word for the 90’s will be “Professionalism through Education – Education – Education”.

Scandinavian-American Building Managers Guild