By Matt Valley
Editor

National Real Estate Investor's rankings of leading companies in the commercial real estate industry are as popular as a beer stand on a hot summer's day. Hardly a week passes without a caller or writer inquiring about our surveys. "Who are the top developers in the office sector?" "Who are the largest owners in the shopping center industry?" "How come our company was left off the list? Don't you know who we are?"

Because reader interest in our surveys is so great, we've opted this year to package them in one inaugural issue we simply call "Best of the Best." In the ensuing pages you will find surveys that cover the following categories:

Top Brokerage Companies

Top Industrial Owners and Developers

Top Lenders

Top Multifamily Owners and Managers

Top Office Developers and Owners

Top Property Managers

Top Shopping Center Owners

A one-page article that captures the current state of the industry precedes each survey. Combining seven surveys in one issue is no small task. For the past several weeks, the editorial team has been consumed by the most minute of details, all in the spirit of accuracy. We've concluded that editing and publishing surveys is a lot like getting a sore tooth pulled-- first comes pain, then comes numbness. Fortunately, the post-extraction effects wear off quickly.

I want to emphasize a few points about the compilation process. First, no list is truly complete because there will always be omissions for any number of reasons, but we believe our lists to be the most comprehensive available. Second, to minimize errors, we employed several editors to copy edit the data for accuracy. Third, we made several follow-up calls to all the companies that appeared on last year's list but had not responded to this year's survey as of July 1.

In two instances, the information published in "Best of the Best" appeared in our magazine earlier this year. I'm referring to NREI's top lenders survey, and the multifamily owners and managers information supplied by the National Multi Housing Council. The introductory articles, however, are fresh content.

In short, we did our best to be both thorough and fair. And keep in mind that we are only as good as our database. We prefer to think of these surveys as a joint effort between the commercial real estate industry and our research staff. There are hundreds of big industry players, some of which prefer to keep a low profile and avoid being included.

The "Best of the Best" is a handy resource tool not only for readers but also for the editors who run this magazine. We refer to our surveys quite often when we need to either cull sources for stories or quote statistics.

I want to extend a special thanks to Assistant Editor Sheila Spires, Senior Associate Editor Stephen Ursery and Editorial Assistant Rachel Smith, who spent hundreds of hours entering data, editing the information and policing the process. Our art director, Scott Upton, also deserves a pat on the back for his patience and guidance.

We hope you enjoy reading this edition, and we'd like to hear from you. All compliments should be directed to me while all complaints should be voiced to Steve Webb, our new managing editor. In all seriousness, if you have any questions, please give me a call at 770-618-0215.

I'm confident you'll be referring to this compendium of surveys throughout the year. And that's our aim -- to serve our readers to the "best" of our ability.