WMA History View Historical Photos
In January of 1917 G. H. Fralich called the first meeting of the Wichita Manufacturers Club. Like all leaders, he foresaw the need for industrial coordination in a city “whose factories and other industries turn out more that 600 different products, from food to machinery”. In addition to Fralich that first meeting in The Hamilton Hotel on south Main was attended by W. M. Knights, D. K. Oxley, Sr., A. A. Stratford and Walter S. Herr. They elected Knights President and Fralich Secretary and set out on their mission to promote manufacturing interests in the community.
Over the next few years the half-dozen to one dozen members continued to meet at the Hamilton. Succeeding presidents J. F. Daniels, E. A. Watkins and E. R. Trout faced the timeless challenge of recruiting new members and retaining current ones. Local management personnel were simply not interested in participating. Then in 1922, George E. King, a key representative for the Red Star Flour Mill was elected president. He campaigned on making changes that would ensure the club’s success. One of the first problems he identified was the meeting location. The food at the Hamilton was less than satisfactory. He decided that if these men were to be asked to contribute to a business meeting they should have a good meal. A new procedure was set. From that point on meetings were held in the plants of various members (flour mills, shirt factories, the Southwest Cracker Company and the largest – The Coleman Company). Home cooked meals were catered by the Fairview Christian Church women’s auxiliary (known especially for their chicken and noodles), and a traveling three-burner Coleman stove was purchased to keep the meals piping hot. That same year the organization became affiliated with the Wichita Chamber of Commerce for a more effective association. They also adopted the motto “What Wichita Makes Makes Wichita”. It quickly became known that the organization had something to offer its members and their companies. By the end of the year the membership had more than tripled with a total of 44 members.
The Wichita Manufacturer's Association has grown to over
150 members. However, the organization still reflects
the ideals, mission and core membership that it was
founded on. In fact, many of the company’s who
have members today also had members in 1922 and the
motto has not changed. We continue to tour manufacturing
facilities, award scholarships to manufacturing students
and learn about new technologies from fellow members.