John Lothian Profiles: Mike Forrester reflects on 50 years of trading at the CBOT

Jeff Bergstrom

Jeff Bergstrom


Toledo, Ohio-born Mike Forrester has been a member of the Chicago Board of Trade for more than 50 years. He started out at the CBOT as a runner for the old Uhlman Grain Company in 1963 at age 22.  He got interested in the markets and started trading job lots on his own.

After rising quickly at Uhlmann, he was sent to Grand Rapids, Michigan for training in securities trading, where he earned a Series 7 registration. But Chicago’s markets was where his heart was. He returned there after a year in Michigan and once again worked as a runner on the trading floor. During his second apprenticeship on the exchange floor, he began to trade small lots for his own account.

After some success trading he joined Garvey Grain and worked to solicit the commercial grain brokerage business, and in 1965 he bought his CBOT exchange membership.

While at Garvey, he attracted the attention of some other exchange members who asked him to join their firm, Hennessy & Associates, as a partner.

But it was when he was approached by one of the oldest trading firms at the CBOT to become a partner, that he had his most success. Ray Gerstenberg, Sr., whose ancestor was a founding member of the CBOT, asked Forrester to become his partner in the firm.

Forrester would stay on as CEO of Gerstenberg until 1986, when he sold the firm to fellow CBOT member firm O’Connor Grain.

Forrester credits his training in the army special forces as the reason he had so much success as a trader, learning how to overcome fear and learn to take risks. But he also said making money in the market is all about risk management. “I heard guys say, ‘Oh, I could make this much money on that trade or that much money,'” he said. “But I always asked myself how much I could lose if I was wrong.”

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