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Forethought: Face forward

Editorial | May 1, 2015 | By:

As I was reading through the 1965 copies of Canvas Products Review for this month’s “Future History,” an article in the November issue celebrating the magazine’s 50th anniversary caught my attention: a recap of a report from the very first issue of The National Tent and Awning Manufacturers REVIEW about the Fourth Annual Convention in 1915, held in Minneapolis.

“The idea of allowing the ladies to be in attendance at the opening of our Convention is becoming an established custom, and was a move in the right direction,” reported the editor. “Another feature is, the presence of ladies lends tone to the gathering, and in these days of equal rights, when the women of today are endeavoring to help their men folk to bear the burdens of business life, we should encourage them rather than seek to dampen their ardor to do good.”

Another timely issue was also addressed at the banquet: “Minneapolis had been having a very strenuous campaign in connection with the prohibition question, and it was a very difficult matter for the Arrangements Committee to decide who were the ‘wets’ and who were the ‘drys,’ with the consequent result that liquids were put where they were not wanted and vice versa; and it is reported that one gentleman had to purchase a bottle for his table. Such is life.”

It hadn’t occurred to me until then that both the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) and the 19th Amendment (Women’s Suffrage) were enacted in 1920. I’m reasonably sure that women weren’t granted the right to vote just to keep them from busting up saloons, but the relationships between politics and industry have always been … complex.

Politics and social issues do make for some fascinating reading as I make my way back to 1915 and the Review’s first issue, but it’s industry issues and trends covered in the magazine—their differences and their similarities to current challenges—that will highlight a special section we’ll be including in the November 2015 Specialty Fabrics Review. We’ve broken it down into five major areas of coverage: sales and marketing (not only to potential customers, but promoting the fabric industry); workforce issues (finding, training and keeping skilled employees, succession issues, wages and benefits); government issues (legislation and lobbying, codes and regulations, contracting and subcontracting); operational issues (business efficiency, standardization, management and expansion); and, of course, technology (products and performance, new applications, new market opportunities). There’s more to come—much more.

Locally, The Minneapolis Foundation is celebrating 100 years of community service with a Centennial Futurist Conference on Sept. 18, focusing on what comes next. Next for us is IFAI Expo 2015, 100 years of the Review, and a chance to use what we’ve learned in one century to build on the one we’re starting now. I hope to see you there—and bring the ladies.

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