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100 years of IFAI Expo

Editorial | January 1, 2020 | By:

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were Temperance organizations in nearly every state. In 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol, was ratified and went into effect on Jan. 16, 1920, beginning the era known as Prohibition. Almost immediately after it was ratified, organizations were formed to repeal it. The anti-Prohibition movement gained strength throughout the 1920s, but oddly enough, it may have been the Stock Market Crash in 1929 that gave the opposition the greatest push. The 21st Amendment in 1933 repealed the 18th Amendment—the first and only time a Constitutional Amendment has been repealed. 

On page 68 of this issue, we begin our decade-by-decade look at 100 years of IFAI Expo, in a decade that began with Prohibition and ended with the beginnings of the Great Depression. As I researched the early years of IFAI and IFAI Expo in our oldest copies of the Review, reading James E. McGregor’s rousing editorials and calls to action, there weren’t too many specifics about the educational programs at the conventions of that time, but there were three evident goals for the National Tent and Awning Manufacturers Association and its members:

1. To formulate and disseminate information about sound business practices, especially “cost accounting.”

2. To enlist participation in the National Co-operative Advertising Campaign, as the association developed a series of professionally designed ads that members could use as “drop-in” advertisements in local papers and magazines.

3. To create a clear Code of Ethics for members and the industry, with the understanding that every company along the supply chain (and employees) should all benefit from doing business, to ensure long-term success.

They started with the basics, it seems (even if, as shown in the photo from the 1928 gathering, they somehow dropped an elephant into the mix). As the industry evolved, so did IFAI Expo, researching and pursuing a number of common themes: marketing, sales and community relations; labor and workforce issues; technological advances in materials, methods and equipment; industry standards, government and trade issues; threats and opportunities and long-term industry trends. What continues throughout, however, is the theme of cooperation for mutual benefit. At its core, IFAI Expo is an annual opportunity to help each other. 

Penetrating readers may notice in that image of the 1928 convention a reference to the “17th Annual Convention”; our accounting, however, dates from the 1918 gathering in Detroit, when the convention was opened to nonmembers and became a true industry event. IFAI Expo’s centennial event will be held this year in Indianapolis, Nov. 3–6. Please let us know how we can help. 

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