One-Hundred and Twenty Years of the National Association of Manufacturers

By January 22, 2015General

Today, the NAM turns 120. One- hundred and twenty years of advocating for manufacturers, one-hundred and twenty years of growth and innovation in manufacturing, and one-hundred and twenty years of supporting hardworking Americans. To see where the NAM has come in one-hundred and twenty years, let’s take a look back to the past.

The year was 1895 and the place was Cincinnati, Ohio. In the middle of a deep recession, manufacturers saw a strong need to export production to new markets in other countries. The newly founded National Association of Manufacturers began calls for the creation of the U.S. Department of Commerce and helped launch the National Council of Commerce, which later became the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

By the 1930’s, the NAM grew and launched its first public relations campaign including movie shorts, leaflets, radio speeches, films for schools and a daily column that appeared in 260 newspapers nationwide.  As the country transitioned from economic recession to war-time manufacturing, the NAM was leading the way. During World War II, manufacturers brought the war effort home and the NAM created a plant-level employee moral program called “Soldiers of Production” and began concentrating on helping manufacturers prepare for the post-war transition.

In the television boom of the 1950’s and the advent of commercial television, NAM had their own Peabody award winning show “Industry on Parade” that aired in 76 of the 78 U.S. television markets and President John Kennedy’s speech to the NAM in December of 1961 helped initiate the effort that lead to the enactment of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Taking advantage of new technology, early in the 1970’s the NAM held four closed circuit television conferences with a reach of over 8,000 executives in more than 26 cities numbers that are still impressive today, even with the Internet.


The next decades, marked by monumental strides in technology and innovation, also brought change to the NAM with the establishment of the D.C. headquarters, the Manufacturing Institute and the 6 point “revitalization agenda.”

Today, the NAM represents more than 14,000 manufacturers across the globe and is the most influential advocate for manufacturing. The NAM has proudly stood with manufacturers and their employees in times of war and peace and in periods of economic strength and uncertainty and will continue to be the most powerful and unwavering voice for policies that support manufacturers’ ability to grow the economy, create well-paying jobs and improve standards of living.

Happy “NAM”iversary!

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