Ninety-seven years have passed since that Monday night when 16 men from 11 companies gathered together for the first meeting of the Los Angeles Paint and Varnish Production Club. The date was May 4, 1924. The place was the City Club, 833 South Spring Street. Early membership records are obscure, but it is recorded that 15 companies were represented by 1929, and total membership had grown to 54 by 1936. Originally, membership was restricted to representatives of paint and varnish producers. In 1937, raw material salesmen were invited to attend meetings and in the early forties were offered Inactive (Associate) Membership.
The first roster was printed in 1946 and listed 142 members. Ten years later membership had grown to 317, was 513 by 1966 and reached 590 in 1978-79. A new record of 653 members was set in 1997-98.
The Los Angeles Club joined the National Association of Paint and Varnish Production Clubs (Federation) in 1927 and in 1936 adopted a Constitution and By-Laws as recommended by the Federation. The name was changed to the Los Angeles Society for Coatings Technology in 1960, and in 1965 the Society was incorporated under California law.
There was some difficulty in obtaining speakers in the early years, and many meetings were scheduled (often two in the same month) to coincide with the availability.
Records mention speakers making use of “lantern slides” in the twenties and taking moving pictures in the thirties. At the first joint meeting of the Executive Committees of the Golden Gate and Los Angeles Clubs in 1954, it was agreed to coordinate programs between the two groups. This was later extended to include the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Northwest Societies and is still in effect.
During these eighty-nine years, meeting places have covered a wide spectrum, but each era seems to have had its favorites. In the thirties it was the Hotel Rosslyn and later the Royal Palms Hotel. By the mid-forties, Scully’s Restaurant became the regular meeting place; in 1958 the Club moved to Michael’s Restaurant. The year 1960 was the beginning of a five-year stay at the Montebello Country Club, from which location they moved to the Chalon Mart. We moved to Steven’s Steak House and then Maggie’s Pub before moving on to the Buena Park Holiday Inn, where we are currently holding our meetings.
The first West Coast Symposium and Show in Los Angeles was held at the Biltmore Hotel in April of 1952. Established on a biennial basis and alternating between San Francisco and Los Angeles, symposia and shows were held in 1956 and 1960 at the Statler, in 1964 at the Biltmore, in 1968 at the Century Plaza, and then at the Airport Marriott and Disneyland Hotel. The WCS was held in Las Vegas beginning in 2005. Additional revenue from these functions resulted in the establishment in 1960 of an irrevocable trust fund for educational purposes. Its 1993 West Coast Symposium and Show, held at the Disneyland Hotel, set a record for raw material company booth participation, general attendance, and profit made for its scholarship program. The West Coast Symposium and Show, still held in Las Vegas continued to grow both in company booth participation and attendee participation, becoming the largest Coatings Symposium and Show on the West Coast.
In 1947, a course in Paint Technology was sponsored at Los Angeles City College and continued for 27 years before being transferred to Los Angeles Trade-Technical College in 1974. It was then moved to California State University, Los Angeles, in 1982. This comprised sixty-two years of service to the paint industry.
In 1966, a Coatings Library was established at the City of Commerce Library and that contained the most complete collection of coatings literature in the West. The library is now located at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Also in 1966, a Scholarship Program was instituted to assist students and provide an incentive to direct them towards the coatings industry. As of 2019, LASCT has provided approximately $250,000 in scholarship grants to qualified, university students. In 2018, LASCT provided an additional $125,000 in funds to the California Community Foundation for future LASCT student scholarships. This fund now contains over $230,000 and will be managed to provide scholarship money for decades to come.
Social functions were always an important part of Club activities. Occasional ladies nights and fishing trips were held in the thirties. In April 1943, the first Spring Frolic was held at the Mayfair Hotel and became a yearly tradition until 1997 when the Christmas Party became the annual social event. In 2011, the December Christmas Party became the November Holiday Party.
In 1944, the December meeting was officially designated as “Ladies Night” and was held at the Rosslyn Hotel. This function became the annual Christmas Party which was held in lieu of the December meeting until 1960. “Ladies Night” was changed to February and came to be called “Spouses’ Night.” The annual Summer Party originated in the late forties and was held for several years at the Pasadena Athletic Club and then moved to the Huntington Hotel. Later it was held at the Pomona Country Club, the Queen Mary, The Castaway, the Sportsmen’s Lodge and the Long Beach Elks Club.
The Los Angeles Society for Coatings Technology celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1974-75. In 1976, the Society voted to extend to the associate members the privilege of being elected to office and the board of directors. A major effort has been made during the last few years to identify and honor all eligible 25- and 50-year members. In 1988, the Society welcomed its first woman President. In 1990, the Society was instrumental in establishing a much needed program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo which concentrates on coatings technology with a B.S. degree in Chemistry. In 1996, Cal Poly Pomona was added as a supported educational institution and a membership educational grant program was established. In 2015, LASCT pledged $10,000 per year for five consecutive years to support the expansion of the Kenneth N. Edwards Western Coatings Technology Center. LASCT celebrated its 75th jubilee in May of 2000. LASCT and CPCA helped to form the Arthur C. Edwards Endowed Chair, ‘KASM’ Endowed Equipment Fund and Bill Moore Endowed Fellowship Program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Polymers and Coatings Institute.
During the 1990s and into the 21st Century, globalization and consolidation swept through the coating industry. The number of paint companies in the Los Angeles area decreased substantially and eventually the number of members also decreased from a high of more than 600 in 1998 to approximately 351 members in 2020. In order to stimulate interest in our society, “local only” membership was made available and permitted by a change in FSCT’s by-laws. Virtual Learning Conferences were added as a continuing education program for coating chemists, sponsored by FSCT and, supported by LASCT’s Education Committee.