In 1918, the Manufacturers Committee of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce knew something had to be done. California’s Legislature was passing new tax laws with little or no resistance. Lawmakers piled costs upon costs to industry, with no seeming understanding of the free-enterprise system. It was time for manufacturers to have statewide representation and a voice in Sacramento.
John R. Millar of the California Cotton Mills Company announced the first meeting of the new group would be held at the Hotel Oakland. Millar would go on to become the first president of the association, a position he held until 1926.
That first meeting saw representatives of the California & Hawaiian Sugar Company; Union Oil Company; California Packing Corporation, later to become Del Monte Corporation; Western Electric Company; Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, part of Bethlehem Steel Corporation; and Chevrolet Motor Company, subsidiary of General Motors Corporation. By the end of World War I, nearly 50 firms were members.
In 1919, California Manufacturers rented an office in Oakland. The association entered the Roaring 20s consisting entirely of a full-time corporate secretary, a stenographer and a clerk. Some of the issues and problems this trio confronted on behalf of the Manufacturers Association were similar to those experienced today. Records show they analyzed legislation regarding labor strikes, redwood preservation, workmen’s compensation, the Industrial Welfare Commission, and taxation. They also worked on regulatory issues, particularly the worrisome rates being set by the California Railroad Commission for public utilities and transportation.
The Association established a Los Angeles office in 1928 and a year later moved the Oakland office to San Francisco. By 1931, the Association had eight full-time staff members and its first general manager, J. A. Pettis.
Growth came suddenly just after World War II, when the Aircraft Parts Manufacturers Association merged with the California Manufacturers Association, bringing most of the major aircraft companies into CMA.
When California switched to a full-time legislature, the CMA moved in synch, opening a Sacramento office in 1961. In the half-century since, the amount of work focused in Sacramento has grown steadily, leading to the phase-out of Association offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Today, the Association’s activities are centralized in Sacramento, where a full calendar of legislative and regulatory action requires year-round attention from a staff of lobbyists, analysts and other professionals.
In March 2000, after 52 years as CMA, the California Manufacturers Association changed its name to the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, recognizing the changing face of the manufacturing industry.
Despite these changes, our Association faces many of the same challenges it did at that first meeting in 1918. Legislation designed to add costs to industry, regulations that impose new burdens on manufacturers, and ever-increasing legal requirements keep the Association busy protecting California’s manufacturing industry.