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 Subject : Personal History, by Larry Stanley, Empire Bolt & Supply.. 10/27/2011 04:27:57 PM 


There is great danger in presenting the historical perspective of an organization, when there are so many of those who are the central players still residing on Planet Earth. It just could be that their memory is more accurate, and who wants to be challenged by the likes of Dave Kendall, Martin Calfee, Mel Kirsner or Bob Lehman? Oh well, our instructions were to give our "point of view", so why not give it a stab?

After that fateful, formational meeting in Los Angeles in February, 1982, it became obvious that those who spoke their minds were bound to get elected to the newly formed association board of directors. For the record, the nine loud ones were Dave Kendall, Martin Calfee, Mel Kirsner, Bob Lehman, Harold Benson, Dick Thull, Ray Bristow, Jr., Chuck Jenefsky, and yours truly, Larry Stanley. I suppose it is safe to say the noisiest one was elected president by the newly formed board convening the same afternoon — yep, you guessed it — Yours Truly. But more about that history making meeting later.

The real beginning events for WAFD probably took place around 1968, when discussions started both in California, as well as in the Northwest, about the value of organizing a forum for fastening people to come together and exchange ideas. Those efforts were sidetracked when NFDA supporters invited several distributors, who were getting increasingly serious about forming a regional association, to attend an upcoming meeting in Chicago. In those days the western most member of NFDA was located in Denver, Colorado. That changed when Dave Kendall (Portland Screw), Orv Niesz (Tacoma Screw), and yours truly accepted their offer and NFDA suddenly stretched to the West Coast. Shortly thereafter, Ray Bristow, Sr. was "squeezed" in followed by a number of California members.

During the 70's, the interest in a western association grew, and by 1982, it boiled over with an invitation being extended by several individuals in California, to come together to discuss the possible formation of an association. Thanks to various supplier and manufacturer salesmen, the word spread in a positive manner, to gather for one day in Los Angeles to determine the interest of the group. The interest was so intense for the approximately 48 people assembled together, that not only was WAFD formed, but it was named. The governing board was determined both in size and in general makeup. Basic rules for the association were agreed upon and voting completed. With the board identified, the meeting was suspended so the newly elected board could meet, name officers, and lay plans for communication and the next meeting date. Other key players from the Los Angeles area who played a significant role in the formation of WAFD were Dick Proteau, Ken Winters, and Terry Jewell.

In those early days, we did not have the luxury of an executive secretary/manager, so the workload, as well as the costs, was shared by many. The by-laws were written with the aid of Harold Benson, through the efforts of Hy Shatz, and patterned after discussions held that fateful 25th day of February in Los Angeles.

Preparations for the first few conferences were made by visitations of several of the board members to the site in advance, with all costs borne by those who did the planning. One memorable visitation was at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. with Dave Kendall, Ray Bristow, Jr., and Yours Truly making the trip. Ray was uneasy since he and Valerie were required, upon making the trip from Portland, to take the ferry, and Ray and water borne crafts do not get along well together. On the return trip to Port Angeles, the conditions were such that Ray stayed in his car down under for most of the trip. Even so, the noticeable lack of color in his face nearing the end of the ferry ride was a further indication of why Ray's nickname is not "Sailor Ray!"

In the first year or two it became increasingly evident that we needed an executive director, the paid staffer who could make the various arrangements for board meetings (which were held 5 to 6 times per year), conferences, and handle all of the interim association correspondence. On the recommendations of some of the Los Angeles area members, Davis/Replogle and Associates was hired. There was no doubt the style of planning and organizational governance changed and not to the satisfaction of more than one member. The nickname from those criticizing the new style of the executive director was "Top Sarge", obviously not intended to be complimentary. Soon after, the pressure to have an attorney in attendance at all conferences emerged, with some members stating they would no longer be able to attend if that action was not taken. So after further discussions, Jeff Lugash was hired. With his rather lengthy explanations to seemingly simple questions, and his long dissertation on legal ramifications for conference attendees, he too was less than enthusiastically received by many members.

What was the atmosphere of those early board meetings? CHARGED! With self-made entrepreneurs who independently had become very successful in their trading areas, would you expect anything other than bottom line, type A discussions? Or how about two or three of them "conducting" their own board meeting within the board meeting.

Was it a good experience chairing this startup group? No! It was a great experience, and even though there were some challenges, I will always carry fond memories of that "gang", 'cause I love 'em all!

Submitted by Larry Stanley, Founding President
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