The American non-alcoholic beverage industry was well-established long before an association was created to represent it 100 years ago. In fact, several attempts to organize as an industry previously failed. These attempts went on for more than a quarter-century before the 1919 meeting of the National Bottlers' Association (NBA) that finally combined the necessary elements for the association to be formed - strong leadership, concerned members and adequate funds.
It was at that meeting where NBA members voted to reorganize and the American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages (ABCB) was officially formed!
"First of all, we had to have organization; without an organization we were nobody in Washington," said James Vernor Jr., of Vernor's Ginger Ale, at the first meeting of ABCB. Vernor subsequently became ABCB's first president.
ABCB opened its doors with 600 plant members and 33 association members. It was established that an executive board of 12 members would oversee the association, led by a president, vice president and treasurer. The office quickly moved from Detroit to Washington, D.C., to be administered by the Board-appointed secretary - equivalent to today's president & CEO. The first to hold the position was Junior Owens.
Right from the start, the association worked hard on its members' behalf to share industry's positions on important issues such as public education, production efficiency, technology availability, product quality and discriminatory tax legislation.
One hundred years later, ABCB has evolved to better reflect its membership and the expanded portfolio of beverages it now brings to market. From ABCB to the National Soft Drink Association to what is now the American Beverage Association, one thing has remained constant: we are proud to represent such an iconic industry that is part of the fabric of America.