Celebrate Our History — and Shape Warehousing’s Future

I’M A HISTORY BUFF. I enjoy learning about how we got where we are. U.S. history is my passion, but reviewing ancient and modern world history also allows great insights. If it’s true that history repeats itself, I want to
be ready.

Looking back also gives me an appreciation for how the more things change, the more they stay the same. We’ve always had conflicts. But great leaders – in industry, in government, in life – have always worked to overcome adversity.

For the warehousing industry, leaders late in the 19th century saw a need to create a unified voice for their evolving profession. There was adversity to overcome – even then, records show early discussions about how to effectively work with railroads – but they also saw the promise that shared knowledge and “cooperative competition” held.

The founding fathers created what would one day be called the International Warehouse Logistics Association. The association’s (and its leaders’) ability to adapt to changes in the marketplace helped it stay relevant, as simple public warehousing grew into “ware- house logistics,” with all that implies – from pick-pack- ship to manufacturing and other value adds.

For some reason,we mark significant passage of time in five-year increments. 2016 is the IWLA’s quasi-centennial: It’s been 125 years since those early warehousemen created predecessor association, the American Ware- housemen’s Association (AWA). And throughout those 125 years, our aims and goals have stayed true to those addressed by the original founders:

  • IWLA still helps warehouses work more efficiently and economically with the railroads. This, coupled with the trucking issues that were not yet an issue in 1891, brought about the creation of the IWLA Transportation Advisory Council. This group of members with similar concerns has parallels in the IWLA Food Council, the IWLA Chemical Council, and other councils.
  • IWLA still educates members about topics and issues that affect their ability to serve customers, create safe working environments, and maximize margins.
  • Never has the spirit of “cooperative competition” been more evident than during IWLA events. Members share ideas and stories – and refer customers.
  • The association works more closely than ever with regulatory agencies, to make sure the Surface Transportation Board, the Food & Drug Administration, OSHA, congressional staff, state leaders, and other people and agencies understand the 3PL perspective and business.

As you can see, we are spending some time reflecting on the past century-and-a-quarter. This issue of 3PL Americas devotes many pages to AWA/IWLA’s history. We’ve already asked for – and received – input and historical documents and items from you. You have stepped up. IWLA will have a great museum on display during the Annual Convention.

I feel very fortunate to lead the association as we reflect on the past, and look forward to the great things ahead for our industry and our trade association. We are building on our strong history.

I cannot wait to see where it takes us next.

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