1915-1952 — The Mac Years

During McGregor’s tenure, the association grew steadily in membership, taking in not only tent and awning firms, but also canvas suppliers — the same companies that had caused the canvas users to form an association in the first place.

The association met initial success primarily because of the support and encouragement of regional canvas products associations such as the Canvas Association of Chicago and the New York Canvas Products Association. The National Tent & Awning Association, in turn, brought an orderly system to these regional organizations.

Relations between the regional organizations and the National Tent & Awning Association, however, became strained in the 1920s when the national organization decided that a company could not automatically receive national membership by joining a regional organization. The minutes of the association’s board meetings recorded the split in the association leadership on this issue, but ultimately it became the policy for the national organization.

As the National Tent & Awning Association grew in membership, the annual convention of the organization became a focal point. Advances in transportation made it easy for industry leaders from across the country to meet. Cities hosting the conventions in the early years included Detroit, San Francisco, Kansas City, Boston and New York. The tradition of taking the association’s convention to the membership was firmly established.

During this time, membership became divided over whether the headquarters should remain in St. Paul or move to Chicago, which was considered a more central location. However, the Minnesota contingent used its clout and the headquarters remained firmly rooted in St. Paul.

In 1938, the association made the first of its three name changes, becoming the National Canvas Goods Manufacturer’s Association. Membership began to expand and now included manufacturers of truck and boat covers. The association’s magazine had anticipated change 12 years earlier when became National Canvas Goods Manufacturer’s Review.

Over the years, Mac McGregor’s editorials increasingly strayed from the canvas industry, often addressing the political climate. He died in 1952. For many in the industry, he was the association. His right-hand man, Donald A. Campbell, became the executive director, but hired others to edit the Review.