Chapter History

The History of the Iowa-Illinois Chapter
 National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA)

The Chapter was founded in 1945 as the Iowa-Illinois Chapter of the Army Ordnance Association. During World War II the Army Ordnance Association represented about 150 Government owned ammunition plants, 175 arsenals and over 200 storage and maintenance depots, all government owned and many contractor operated. This vast organic production and maintenance capability was the core of the famed “Arsenal of Democracy” which contributed in great measure to winning World War II. To this date the Iowa-Illinois Chapter still has a strong focus on representing the "Organic Base", i.e., the government owned Defense Industrial Base, as well as honoring our history in World War II and those who served in that and future wars.

The Iowa-Illinois Chapter was dormant in the early 1980s and much of the early history has been lost to us. The chapter was restarted in 1988 by Mr. John Spuller from Deere & Company. Mr. Spuller re-constituted the board of directors and resumed chapter operations. The chapter has remained active since then and has one of the top chapter programs within the NDIA.

The Chapter’s on-going activities are focused on three primary areas: Sponsorship of Seminars/Symposiums, Scholarship Programs, and Community Events/Activities.

The Iowa-Illinois Chapter has run numerous symposia broaching key issues in National Defense. Among the subject areas we’ve addressed are: Manufacturing, Small Business, Logistics and Logistical Data Management, Ammunition, Small Arms weapons, Defense Transformation, Total Quality Management, Lean Six Sigma, and Women in Defense. It was through our Women in Defense symposium series that we initiated creation of the first chapter of the now national organization bearing that name. The symposium series was transitioned to the new local organization as a means for their financial support. The Women in Defense (WID) ‘Chapter #1’ continues to be represented on our board of directors and their members are afforded complimentary membership in NDIA, a real win-win arrangement. In 2008, the Chapter devoted increasing focus to Small Business and Government Contracting with annual Small Business Government Contracting Symposiums. As these evolved and greater efficiencies were sought, there was further integration of previously separate Arsenal Island events (e.g., RIA Industry Day, Army Sustainment Command (ASC) Advanced Planning Briefing to Industry (APBI)) into a singular overarching annual event, with the Chapter’s Small Business symposium becoming the anchor event. By 2015, the Chapter had successfully held its 8th Annual Midwest Small Business Government Contracting Symposium. In 2018, “Small Business” was dropped from the title as it became obvious that discussions were equally applicable to both small and large businesses. 2019 marked the 12th Annual Midwest Government Contracting symposium hosted by the Chapter with plans to continue the annual event.

The proceeds from our seminars/symposium, coupled with corporate member contributions, are used to fund our activities in the two other focus areas:

Some historical insights into how the Iowa-Illinois Chapter has been active in honoring our Soldiers and Veterans include:

Today Iowa-Illinois Chapter's membership consists of approximately 600 individuals from both the private and public sectors. The Iowa-Illinois Chapter, as an arm of the national association, continues to provide geographic coverage for Iowa and the western 1/3 of Illinois, furthering the national objectives and policies. Our mission is still to:

The Chapter is governed by its By Laws. Our focus areas today include small business, hosting of seminars/conferences, scholarship programs, STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) initiatives, and sponsorship of community and military events/activities. The chapter has been annually recognized by the national association as a Model Chapter since the inception of that award in 2002. As a matter of fact, the Model Chapter Award program is one of several innovations proposed by our Chapter and adopted by the national association.  Others innovations included free trial memberships for government employees and the creation of a chapter system for Women In Defense (WID) which included the earlier mentioned formation of WID Chapter #1 locally and which is now an NDIA affiliate organization. 

In 2015, the Chapter celebrated its 70th Anniversary.  All chapter members and their families, along with WID members were invited to join in the celebration with a series of FREE events at the Putnam Museum, Davenport, IA.  A special invitation was also given to our military.  The highlight of the day was the 3D movie, D-Day: Normandy 1944, in the National Geographic GIANT screen theatre. The movie, narrated by Tom Brokaw, paid tribute to those who gave their lives for our freedom.