We proudly inducted Larry and Alfred Klairmont of Imperial Realty into the Chicago Association of REALTORS® Hall of Fame at our 132nd Annual Inaugural Gala. We thank them for their leadership, achievements and philanthropy.
Larry Klairmont’s mantra is “I only invest in bricks and mortar!”
Born during the depression, he began working at the age of nine. At sixteen, he joined the Marines, receiving two Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars and one Bronze Star fighting in two of the bloodiest battles in Iwo Jima and Saipan during WWII.
After graduating from DePaul, Larry founded Imperial Cleaners, which grew to become the largest dry cleaning chain in Chicago in just four years. In 1962, he sold out of the business. Five years later, he purchased and renovated his first investment property, the oldest business building in Highland Park. He began acquiring a mix of warehouses and office buildings over the next eleven years, until his son Al expressed an interest in going into real estate with his father, rather than going to law school. Thus, despite Larry’s reservations, the modern era of Imperial Realty began.
“On my first day on the job, my dad showed me the key box to the 23 properties he had purchased, and he told me that he never wanted to see the keys again,” Alfred said. “As the company’s only administrative employee, I was given the latitude to bumble along and practice all aspects of real estate. And if I could find a payphone, I could try to find my Dad to ask what to do, and always get the right answer.”
Since joining forces, they have acquired and developed over 150 different properties together, without defaulting on a mortgage. At present, they own over 100 buildings and centers, and manage over 3000 tenants. Their staff of 100 consists of many long-time employees who share their “hands-on, tender, loving care” approach.
Although Larry is semi-retired, he still maintains a presence at the Imperial Realty offices, where Alfred continues to direct all company activities with unparalleled attention to detail and his “tender, loving care” philosophy. The best example of this is his ever-evolving to-do list, with over 1,500 entries that are replaced by new initiatives upon completion.
“I love driving around this town and looking at developments that Alfred and I’ve created,” Larry said. “Places where there was nothing and didn’t exist, and now it’s such a credit and an improvement to the city.”
Outside of real estate, Larry focuses much of his attention to his Klairmont Kollection of extremely rare and unusual classic automobiles, housed in a dedicated museum that he uses to raise money for charity. Meanwhile, Alfred remains active in the greater Chicago community, with memberships on 16 different civic and professional boards and committees. He is particularly active in the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation, where he is the long-time Educational Chairman.
The Klairmonts often say that they are in the business of taking lemons, and turning them into lemonade. And looking back at the impact that their efforts have made on the city, this couldn’t ring more true.
Watch the Hall of Fame video