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IFAI Expo 1920-1929

January 1st, 2020 / By: / Future History

This Business of Going to Conventions

From James E. McGregor’s editorial on page 13 of the August 1928 National Canvas Goods Manufacturers Review. 

Ideas are like the farmer at work. He prepares the ground by preparing his mind through study of conditions which affect the future crop. He gets those ideas from Farm schools, practical experience with the soil and using his knowledge to overcome difficulties while others fail for the lack of willingness to learn. 

Life is a school and the more we can get together and deduct from suggestions offered by many minds at a convention, valuable ideas if only one, it may mean a new angle to our competitors and a new thought for business construction. 

James E. McGregor (“Mac”), the first editor of the Review and IFAI’s first employee and executive secretary, once described the yearly meeting of tent and awning business owners—now known as IFAI Expo—as the “homecoming of the industry.” Then known as conventions, the events in the 1920s tended to be fairly rowdy, one featuring a live elephant (“Tessie”), and others, in the spirit of the times, jugs of moonshine. Shown here: The 17th Annual Convention (counted from 1912, when IFAI was first formed) of the National Tent and Awning Manufacturers Association at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo., Oct. 1–4, 1928.

Every business man is entitled to a vacation: a change of scenery from the whirring wheels of factory to the soaring flights of inspired ambition: from drudgery of commonplace things to frolic and good fellowship. A National Convention is the testing laboratory of men’s minds in their attitude towards the great  movement of group co-operation against the growing menace of the slime and muck of cut-throat competition. 

If you are a real, honest-to-goodness, up-to-date tent and awning manufacturer—YOU WILL BE THERE WHEN THE DOORS OF THE BROADMOOR HOTEL, COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO, OPEN TO GIVE OUR MANUFACTURERS THE BIGGEST AND HEARTIEST WELCOME THE GREAT WEST HAS BEEN PLANNING FOR MONTHS PAST. 

Editor’s note: Mr. McGregor makes no mention of the stock market crash in the 1929 issues of the magazine, but most likely those publications had already gone to press by that time. According to our records, the national convention held at the Stevens Hotel in Chicago that year had the largest number of attendees to date. But at the convention in Memphis, Tenn., in 1930, the number of attendees only reached 400. We’ll take a look at that decade on this page in the February issue of the Review


SIDEBAR: 90 Years Ago . . .

1920

The 18th Amendment, passed in 1919, and the clarifying Volstead Act, established the Prohibition Era in the United States, which took effect Jan. 16, 1920. On Dec. 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified, which repealed the 18th Amendment. 

The BAND-AID brand adhesive bandage is invented by Johnson & Johnson employee Earle Dickson. BAND-AIDS go on the market the following year as the first commercial dressing consumers could apply themselves on small wounds. 

1925

Represented by Clarence Darrow, Tennessee substitute teacher John Scopes is found guilty of violating the Butler Act (teaching evolution) on July 21 and fined $100.

The Review reports that Pennsylvania railroad conductor Harry Cordell shot and killed his wife of two months and then killed himself; he left a note indicating that the tragedy was precipitated by an argument over awnings. 

1929

The fireproof-waterproof treatment of canvas was destined for history through its use in Admiral Richard Byrd’s Antarctic expeditions. In November, the famous flight to the South Pole is launched; fireproof and waterproof covers are used that have been treated by Price Fire & Waterproofing Company, furnished by Baker, Carver and Morrell Inc. 

On Oct. 29, Black Tuesday hit Wall Street, and billions of dollars were lost, wiping out thousands of investors. In the aftermath, the U.S. and the rest of the industrialized world spiraled downward into the Great Depression (1929–1939). 


SIDEBAR: Full-color cover

In July 1928, the Review featured its first full-color cover, a shot of the Broadmoor Hotel, location of the 1928 IFAI convention. 


SIDEBAR: Convention locations

1920  San Francisco
1921  Chicago
1922  Philadelphia
1923  Kansas City
1924  Boston
1925  Cleveland
1926  West Baden, Ind.
1927  New York City
1928  Colorado Springs
1929  Chicago