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Education Market Association | Celebrating 100 Years!


1st Meeting of Charter Members

Charter members meet while attending AASA in Kansas City, MO to lay the groundwork to bring school suppliers together in an organization to share common interests. Charles Bryant was elected president.


The First Annual Meeting of the National School Supply Association, Inc. was held on December 10, 1918, at the Congress Hotel in Chicago. 26 distributors and 27 manufacturers were present.

The first monthly printed publication of the Association was the Association Bulletin, later Tidings, then Essentials Magazine. Secretary Frank Bruce served as both publisher and editor at his own expense.


The Association became incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois.


First Business Director Hired

In July, 1919 the first Business Director was elected in the person of O.W. Coursey, Educator Supply Co., Mitchell, South Dakota, at a salary of $300.00 per month, plus expenses.

New Offices - Director in Chicago

On December 11, 1919, the Executive Committee hired Tom Vinson from Central School Supply at a salary of $5,000 plus expenses as authorized. The Business Director was authorized to negotiate a lease for our first permanent office on the 5th floor of the Steinway Hall Building, Chicago. Rent:$70 per month. He was authorized to hire a competent secretary. He was requested to "accept NO donations from members in equipping the office."


Growth Years of the
Roaring 20's

Membership had grown from 55 members in 1918 to 115 the following year. Members voted to double the annual membership fee from $60 to $120.

1923 - membership numbers are reported as: 78 Active members (distributors), and 102 Associate members (manufacturers), for a total of 180 member companies.


Attention to Education Legislation

Interest in legislative matters started early and has been ongoing throughout the Association's history. In May, 1922, John Brain, Omaha School Supply Co., Chairman of the Legislative Committee, reports on model laws that members should present to their various State Legislatures. Subject matter reflects the need for:

  1. Compulsory attendance law
  2. A law requiring each school to furnish free supplies to all pupils.
  3. A flag law requiring each school to have a U.S. flag.
  4. A law requiring the purchase of single seats by all schools in the future.
  5. A law requiring the use of sanitary equipment, such as chemical toilets, drinking fountains, and ventilating heaters.


Association Logo Registered

The Association logo has been registered and begins to appear on Association publications. All members are asked to include this logo on their catalog, stationery, and other printed materials. Within a circle, the logo contains the profile of the head of a boy and a girl along with the slogan, "Service to the School Children of America."


Regional Meetings Begin

Regional meetings provide the opportunity for small group discussion, face-to-face contact with members, and the interchange of ideas and experience.


10-Year Anniversary of First Convention

Although no attendance figures are available, there were 70 exhibit booths which sold for $35-$80 each. In his inaugural address, President Charles W. Knox, Minneapolis School Supply Company, said: "The year 1927 perhaps will be looked back upon in the history of the Association as being a year of little significance in that it was the first year of the second decade. I think perhaps some future historian of the Association will be referring to the first ten years of the Association as the years of organization, years of getting a firm foundation built, upon which to erect a superstructure. In the second decade, 1927 particularly, we are standing upon the threshold of the door of opportunity."


Convention Attendees Know How to Party

In his reporting of a very successful 11th Annual Convention, Secretary Frank Bruce, Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, included this note: "We were indirectly informed that there was a roughhouse at Kelly's Stables, one famous Chicago Cabaret, sometime between midnight and five o'clock the next morning following the annual dinner of the Association. We understand that a number of members of the Association had something to do with the roughhouse, but for fear of a suit for slander, we refuse to call any names."


First Convention at the
Palmer House in Chicago

The Palmer House was to be the home for the association convention for decades (1933-1972). Exhibits by manufacturers is the big attraction. Promotional material notes, "A portion of the tenth floor will be set aside for private room exhibits". Rooms shows were to become a popular feature for forty-five years. The room rates were $3.50, single, and $6 dollars per night, double.


3rd Name Change for the Association

The man on the street had always associated school supplies with the neighbor-hood candy shop and drug store, and more lately with the five and ten cent store. By the simple device of adding the word "equipment" to its name the Association placed itself in a position to come forward in Washington in an entirely new light. Without a dissenting vote, at the Convention in February, 1934, our new name became:

National School Supplies and Equipment Association.


Lew Parmenter Serves as Executive Director

Through the untimely death of Executive Secretary V.W. McClinton, in June, 1940, Past President Lew Parmenter became Executive Secretary of the Association.


First Catalog Display at the Annual Convention

One of the outstanding features of the 1941 convention was the first display of distributor catalogs sponsored by the Advertising Committee. This was to become a regular feature and has contributed in a real way to the promotion of better distributor catalogs within our industry.


25th Anniverary of the Association

Name changes to: National School Service Institute. "Institute" was a popular term at the time; the thought was that this change would deemphasize commercialism in the eyes of our customer, the schools.


"Pop Rings the Bell" Released

Following the war, a public relations program to promote education was developed that included a movie stressing the essentials of education. POP RINGS THE BELL was a twenty minute, 16mm sound movie developed to arouse public interest in the schools. This film was promoted to be used by educators, school boards, association members, to be shown wherever the public gathered; public meetings, Parent Teacher groups, luncheon clubs, TV, etc. Complete with a discussion guide, millions of Americans saw this film and was used to promote a successful vote on school bond issues. All school people knew "Pop Rings the Bell", and recognized NSSI on this successful program.


Convention Canceled
Due to War

The Annual Convention and Trade Show scheduled for February, 1945, was cancelled because of the War. Too many problems with allocations, priorities, shortages, and rationing. In spite of this, even though the War is not over, attention is beginning to be turned toward possible post-war activities. A huge backlog of schoolhouse construction exists, since little had been built since 1940. The backlog was estimated at three billion dollars.


Charles Leonard, Inc. company Founded

Century Club Sponsor


2nd Movie Produced

NSSI produced its second movie. After the success of POP RINGS THE BELL, it was quite natural to capitalize on this. The SIXTH CHAIR was produced largely with material left over from “POP.” The theme was a school board meeting, with the sixth chair empty. For lack of the sixth chair member, not much was accomplished. The idea was the necessity for participation by everyone. Don’t let the sixth chair be empty because of your complacency.


Convention Timing is a Challenge

The main idea of having the Annual Convention and Trade Show held in the month of February each year was so that our members could get together, see new products, plan sales programs, and then right after the NSSI Convention, go to the AASA Convention and Exhibit, ready to sell with all the very latest information. This arrangement worked well for many years, until 1950, when the pressure of convention space in Chicago hotels became unbearable. The choice was put to the Association to switch their convention to March or December, when space would be available. December was chosen as the better time, as it was the slow time of year for members.


The first manufacturer elected as President of NSSI was Cliff Parker, President of the Ideal School Supply Company, Chicago, Illinois. Although the bylaws do not indicate that the President of the Association be a distributor or a manufacturer member, it has been traditional that it be a distributor member. While the manufacturers are always most supportive of the Association, it has been the manufacturers who deferred to the distributors for this unique leadership position.


David McCurrach Serves as Executive Director

When Lew Parmenter retired as Executive Manager of the National School Service Institute, Dave McCurrach took over as Executive Director. McCurrach had previously served as a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors at the time, employed as Educational Manager of the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company, Brooklyn, New York.


New Name: National School Supply and Equipment Association

The public relations program on behalf of education had been very successful and many educators were aware of it and the National School Service Institute. But our identity ended there. Hence we elected to be named for what we were, a trade association representing manufacturers and distributors of school supplies, equipment, and instructional materials.

NSSEA Spouse Program

For many years, Spouse Programs were organized by Betty McCurrach, wife of the Executive Manager, Dave McCurrach. She received input and assistance from the wives of the officers and directors of NSSEA.


Sales Manager Howard Newkirk showing Draper’s V Screen, the first screen model introduced by Draper in the 1950s.


Traffic Consultant Retained

Freight and traffic is a technical subject not easily understood by the average manager, yet important to the success of a business. To help bring professional help to this area, NSSEA retained Ray Bohman, Bohman Industrial Traffic Consultants. Bohman represented this industry before the ICC and rate making bodies, wrote a monthly column for TIDINGS, and responded to individual requests and questions. He was a regular participant at convention workshops and Regional Meetings for 50 years.


Kennedy Assassination During Convention

The day before exhibits were to open on Friday, November 22nd, a room service waiter bringing in coffee and rolls for a committee meeting announced that President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The Executive Committee was called into immediate session and cancelled the President’s Reception scheduled for that very night. This was the only change to be made in the convention program. Out of respect for the President, this seemed the appropriate thing to do.



Young Executive Committee Established

Norman Gledhill remarked in Executive Committee meeting that something should be done to get the young people together in some way during the Annual Convention. The older generation had their circle of friends and activities, which did not include interests of the younger generation. If a time and place could be arranged, those 40 and younger could meet others in the same circumstances. After all, young people are to be the future owners, managers, and leaders of the industry.


NSSEA Celebrates 75th Anniversary in Chicago


Exhibit Booths Instituted

As exhibits and new exhibitors not familiar with room shows increased, the move was made to offer both types of exhibit space. Rooms were offered on the 7th and 8th floors of the Palmer House, exhibit booths in the exhibit hall on the 4th floor. Although this split the exhibit area, comments from the members were generally good.


TIL/40 Committee Evolves

The Young Executives Committee expands its horizon and changes its name to “TIL/40” to stand for TRAINING, IMPROVEMENT, LEADERSHIP. Also in June, 1970, the TIL/40 Committee further broadens their scope. Rather than confining their membership to executives, it has now been opened up to all persons under the age of 41.


NSSEA Moves to Washington, DC

With the federal government becoming more involved in education and business, NSSEA headquarters moved from Chicago to the Washington, D.C. area. Executive Vice President, Dave McCurrach concerned himself with matters of setting up headquarters in Washington while General Manager, John Spalding, managed the vacating of the old Chicago location. As a result, NSSEA literally closed up in Chicago on a Friday, December 29, and opened up for business in Washington, D.C. on Monday, January 1.


Independent Manufacturers' Agent Membership Category Added; Manufacturers Council Formed

The first meeting of the Manufacturers Representatives was held at breakfast at the Atlanta Convention, November, 1979. The recorded comments of the Chairman, Rib Hall, sums it up: "I feel that we are a little ahead of the industry in that many manufacturers do not yet realize the importance and value of reps. Part of the growth of our segment of NSSEA will depend on the job we do, and the way we conduct ourselves. Having been involved in NSSEA myself for 29 years, I consider it a distinct privilege to belong as a rep and intend to conduct myself as responsibly as I can."


Membership Mix Changes

The 1975 Membership Directory was the first to specifically identify members as retailers, or having retail stores. Interesting to note that of 205 distributors (which included retailers as well as distributors) 122 listed were or had retail stores. This amounts to 59% of the distributor listings. Contrasting this with 72% of the distributor membership with retail stores in 1981, there was tremendous growth.

500th Member Joins NSSEA


Instructional Materials Committee Takes Off

While several efforts were made to organize this group in the 1960's, instructional materials had emerged as an important segment of our industry. These manufacturers, eighty-nine in all, were identified and listed in the 1975 Membership Directory. By 1982, this group was to grow to one-hundred-forty-eight companies. Some large, some small, some only a segment of their business.


NSSEA Agrees to Manage AASA Exhibits

For years, an informal organization known as Associated Exhibitors (AE) represented the exhibitors at the convention of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). After several months of negotiations, a five-year contract between NSSEA and AASA to formalize NSSEA-Education Exhibitors to take over the duties and responsibilities of Education Industries Association. The new group was to be governed by a Joint Committee composed of school administrators and exhibitors.


1st All-Booth Fall Show

The move of our Convention to New Orleans and an all booth show was a tremendous success. A report to the Board of Directors shows, "The largest Convention in the history of the Association....Financially, it was an overwhelming success with income exceeding expense. It has changed drastically since the days of the Palmer House and the Chase Park Plaza. We are now a big time Convention and we must recognize this and be ready for change."

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Ronald Reagan Speaks at Distinguished Guest Luncheon


Jonti-Craft Founded

Century-Club Sponsor


The Rise of Retail

Retail teachers' stores were recognized early by the Association, and by 1980 had become an important factor in the industry. In fact, retailers were to become Regional Directors; President in 1981 with Windell Jones, Supply Room; Cherie Garland, Little Red School House, Secretary in 1982, and Second Vice President in 1984.


Dave McCurrach Retires from NSSEA

NSSEA saw the end of an era in 1982 with the retirement of Dave McCurrach. "The people, the friendships, the challenges and frustrations, the pace, the diversified activity, the opportunity to serve and be helpful in response to the needs of individual members as well as the membership in general," were things Dave said he would miss after 30 years of service to the Association.

Wood Designs Founded

Century-Club Sponsor


John Spalding Serves as Executive Vice President

After reviewing over 200 applications sent in response to advertisements in Tidings and the Wall Street Journal, General Manager John Spalding was Appointed Executive President effective January 1, 1983.


Cherie Garland
First Woman Elected NSSEA President

1st Spring Show

NSSEA held its first spring trade show, EduMart’86, April 20-21, 1986 in St. Louis, specially aimed at the back-to-school buying season. EduMart (later renamed Ed Expo) proved to be a great value for NSSEA retail members and instructional materials producers in particular.

Tragedy Ends Spalding's Life

NSSEA Executive Vice President John Spalding dies in his sleep of carbon monoxide poisoning in a hotel-related accident during the 71st Annual Fall Show in Nashville, TN. Spalding had served the Association faithfully for 20 years and provided strong leadership in times of great change, and friendship to countless members of NSSEA.

Tim Holt serves as President/CEO

General Manager Tim Holt, who joined NSSEA in 1980 was immediately named Executive Vice President, and began 1987 with a renewed commitment to excellent member service and high quality programs.


JLS Scholarship Fund Started

In honor of Spalding, a scholarship was set up. The scholarship fund, nearly self-sustaining at this point thanks to numerous member contributions, awards financial support to a deserving student who is a member employee or their child.

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The 1980's had seen a gradual decline in attendance at Regional Meetings. NSSEA hosted an off-shore Winter Conference in the Bahamas in place of the Regional Meetings. Held in a sunny tropical location, the winter conferences combined business sessions and social activities. As an experimental basis, the Conference proved popular among members with attendence topping 150 and continuing until January 2001.


NSSEA Launches EdTech Division

With the rise of digital products and elearning, NSSEA started an EdTech Division to focus on this growing channel. Division activities included a Model Classroom, consulting, and awards.

1,000th Member Joins NSSEA


Pin-Centives, Inc.
Founded in 1992

Century Club Sponsor


Education Advocacy Foundation Established A dedicated group of association members led by Dan Spalding and many others formed a charitable foundation for the purpose of showing support for quality education, assisting members with local efforts to improve education, and raising the profile of the educational products marketplace.

International Influence

For many years, NSSEA participated in the Worlddidac shows and BESA events, meeting with international education leaders, coordinating U.S. pavilions, and informing members of import/export opportunities.


First School Equipment Show Debuts

1996 saw the end of the Fall Convention and the start of the School Equipment Show (later named EDspaces). The first School Equipment Show was held February 22-24, 1996 in Tampa, FL. The first year had 131 exhibiting companies in 208 booth spaces, 248 distributor companies with 578 personnel, and 113 endusers.


New NSSEA Logo Introduced

Stages Learning Materials
Founded in 1997

Century Club Sponsor


The Education Excellence Foundation contributed funding for disaster relief for NSSEA members, teacher grants, scholarships and more by holding an annual Silent Auction and sponsoring fun events such as an Ed Expo golf tournament and 5K Fun Walk/Run each year.

Going Digital 

Tidings Update e-newsletter Started


www.TeacherStores.com Site Launched

A new consumer website was powered to provide an easy-to-use searchable database of stores along with shopping suggestions, season-themed articles, and promotion of the school market.

NSSEA Helps Schools After 9/11

NSSEA's The Education Excellence Foundation raised money for schools affected by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.


Academia Furniture Industries Founded
Century Club Sponsor


NSSEA Fall Show Ends

After a couple years of the NSSEA Fall Show as NSSEA University and NSSEA Ed-U, the long-running trade event held its last show in San Antonio, September 22-23, 2003 after an 86-year run.


Two NSSEA Shows Colocated for 3 Years

Beginning in 2006, the School Equipment Show and Ed Expo were co-located. The first co-located show was in March 2-5 in Orlando.


Grant Program Offers Travel Assistance to Key Buyers

The Educational Facility Grant program began in 2010 to help bring qualified buyers with planned building or renovation projects to the School Equipment Show. This program has resulted in continued growth and excitement for this segment of the market.


Jim McGarry Named President/CEO

Following the death of Tim Holt from lung cancer in 2010, the Executive Committee hired Jim McGarry as the new President/CEO in April and he was formally introduced to the membership of NSSEA during the Annual Meeting on in San Antonio, TX during EDexpo.


Industry Snapshot

The K-12 instructional materials market, including textbooks, supplemental materials, and technology products, totaled $19.430 billion in sales in the 2012-13 school year. It is projected that sales in 2013-14 will be $20.979 billion, a 7.9% increase compared to the prior year.


Name Changes to Education Market Association

In an effort to more accurately reflect the association’s scope in representing the educational products marketplace, members and leaders overwhelmingly voted to change the name of the association to the Education Market Association (EDmarket). A brand new website — www.edmarket.org — was introduced in March.

School Equipment Show renamed EDspaces

The branding was extended to the School Equipment Show as well, with a renaming to EDspaces.


EDexpo Co-Locates With CAMEX

EDmarket and the National Association of College Stores (NACS) co-located Ed Expo and CAMEX to create the largest educational products tradeshow in the world at the Dallas Convention Center, March 8-11, 2014. The combined joint event covered 600,000 square feet and featured exhibits from over 1,000 companies showcasing the most innovative products for students from pre-school to college. The co-location lasted two years.


Establishing key partnerships with industry influencers has been a driving factor in the success of EDspaces. In 2015, the AIA Committee on Architecture for Education moved their fall conference to EDspaces bringing an important group into the mix of decision makers for school facilities.


Thanks For Visiting!

100 years is quite the milestone, but we won't be stopping there. Thanks to the dedicated leaders, members and partners of the Education Market Association, we look forward to the next 100 years.

EDmarket Presidents/Chairmen