In late 1995 and early 1996, after many discussions and many informal meetings with members of their peer group, the two NRTA founders decided to formalize their idea and "test the water". They developed and offered a three day educational conference for retailers responsible for managing commercial leases. The founders held a common belief that continuing education, sharing current information, and providing a forum for personal development were vital if one wished to achieve a high standard of professionalism and to contribute to their respective company's capability to more profitably manage their leases. This belief took the form of the first successfully executed National Retail Tenants Conference held in Boston, in November of 1996.
With the support and encouragement of their respective employers and several lease service professionals, the founders established a multiple day conference that featured numerous classroom workshops and a variety of information-sharing roundtable sessions. They had hoped to attract perhaps 50 of their peers to this fledgling project-their hopes were substantially exceeded. In fact, over 200 Lease Administration and Management Professionals enthusiastically participated. The result was a major success, and received high praise for the quality of its classroom presentations and information-packed workshops. When participants were asked if this pilot association should be formalized, the overwhelming response was "absolutely YES!"
In early 1997, the National Retail Tenants Association, Inc. was chartered and incorporated. While all assignments were performed by members on a voluntary basis, the newly elected officer group immediately set out to plan the next annual conference. A great deal of consideration was devoted to ensure that classroom workshop topics and networking forums provided valuable information that could favorably impact the bottom-line results of a participant's company. Concepts such as joint auditing, new software system information, and proactive management of common area expenses evolved from these education formats. Over 360 participants attended the second conference, and the NRTA was suddenly an emerging industry resource. The NRTA appointed its first part time Executive Director in 1998 and opened its headquarters located in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. The Executive Director's position was converted to full time and the creation of a Member Services Manager position was adopted in January 2005.