The Foreign Trade Association of Southern California 1919

The Foreign Trade Association of Southern California was founded in 1919 as the World Traders Club of Los Angeles.

The name change was passed by a unanimous vote of the membership on May 3, 1926. Attending the event in the second-floor dining room of the Hotel Clark, 426 Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles, were past presidents Maurice Carasso, and Glenn Smith (standing second and third from the right) while the recently-elected George Grover Gearhart (sitting, far right) chaired the meeting. The group’s first president, George Carpenter, is seen in the center, foreground.

Stanley T. Olafson

Also in attendance was Stanley T. Olafson, the Manager of the International Trade Department of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and future FTA president. Under Olafson’s leadership, the Foreign Trade Association worked with the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce to set aside a week every May to promote international trade and educate the community on the value of global commerce. The popularity of World Trade Week spread across the country and in 1933, President F.D. Roosevelt made it a national observance that is still celebrated today.

Every year since his death, the Foreign Trade Association’s World Trade Week Luncheon has served as the venue where the L.A. Chamber presents the Stanley T. Olafson Bronze Plaque Award to honor Olafson and his visionary efforts on behalf of international trade.

“Now that the ballots have been counted and the results are known, what lies ahead for the country’s foreign trade? We asked several exporters what they thought…and we are happy to report, with rare exception, that not only have foreign trade prospects not been harmed but they have actually been stimulated. We are equally pleased to observe that while some were disappointed by the outcome, they are far from being bitter…that men who a year ago were thinking only in terms of immediate sales, now have the long-range view with more exporters realizing that in order to help themselves, they must first help their customers.”

From “The Log” FTA Newsletter,
November 21, 1940

Los Angeles 1919

FTA Presidents