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The year was 1959, and a manufacturer and its separate marketing company were locked in a dispute over distribution rights that could affect the livelihood of the company's independent Distributors.

Faced with this crisis, two of the leading Distributors, Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos, called a meeting with several of their top downline Distributors in Charlevoix, Michigan. Out of that meeting came a new Distributor organization, the American Way Association.

The original members of the AWA included not only Jay and Rich but also other pioneers such as Walter Bass, Fred Hansen, Joe Victor and Jere Dutt. It was decided eventually that Jay and Rich would head a sales company that would supply products and that the AWA, now the IBOAI® (Independent Business Owners Association International, Inc.®), would serve as the voice of the Distributor network to promote the interests and protect the rights of the Distributors.

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