About/ History

Since the late 1800s, IWLA has been serving warehouse logistics organizations.

The American Warehousemen’s Association, founded late in the 19th century, represented warehouse operators’ interests primarily in their work with railroads. AWA was a founding member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

As warehouse logistics matured, so did the association, becoming the American Warehouse Association and then the International Warehouse Logistics Association.

IWLA is a result of the 1997 merger between the then nearly 80-year-old Canadian Association of Warehousing and Distribution Services (CAWDS) with the American Warehouse Association (AWA).

The associations headquarters have always been in the Chicago area, now in Des Plaines, Ill.

IWLA Demographics

IWLA member companies represented range in size from 10,000-square-foot, single-city warehouses to international companies with more than 25 million square feet of warehouse space. Most member companies primarily conduct business in North America.

A 2013 Member Needs Assessment Revealed IWLA’s Current Member Profile:

  • Warehouse owners (84%)
  • Between the ages of 41 to 60 years (63%)
  • S-Corp (32%) or C-Corp (28%)
  • Have more than 16 years of experience in the warehousing logistics industry (60%)
  • Companies range between 11 and 500 employees (76%)

Members of IWLA, include companies that provide many services: warehousing; fulfillment; reverse logistics; transportation; freight-forwarding and brokerage services; inventory and supply chain management; and a broad range of manufacturing and value-added services.

Learn how IWLA serves its members.


1891 – Warehousing industry leaders form American Warehousemen’s Association and conduct the first AWA convention.

1895 – The Uniform Warehouse Receipts Act was drafted by AWA.

1912 – AWA is a founding member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. IWLA maintains membership in this organization that is the definitive voice for U.S. business interests.

1926 – The AWA Household Goods Division breaks off and becomes part of the National Furniture Warehouse Association.

THE 40'S - 70'S

1940s – The members of AWA assist with domestic logistics efforts.

1945 – AWA receives citation from President Truman for distinguished service in the war/transportation field.

Late 1940s – Federal highway growth precipitates a change in public warehousing: There is a decline in public warehousing in small towns, but an increase in the number and size of public merchandise warehousing in larger cities. AWA membership demographics reflect this shift.

1947 – Working together, the AWA and the National Materials Handling Association introduce mechanical handling equipment to the distribution industry during the 56th AWA Annual Meeting. This advent opens the era of the forklift truck and pallet – a revolution that provides the basis for the public warehouseman’s flexibility and economy of operations.

1952 – The charge for adoption of the Uniform Commercial Code is lead by AWA.

1961 – The AWA Refrigerated Warehouse Division splits to start the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses. AWA keeps the name for merchandise warehousing.

Early 1960s – The Warehousemen’s Legal Liability Program was introduced by AWA.

1970 – Auburndale Case: The U.S. Supreme Court overrules the National Labor Relations Board and holds that the picketing of a public warehouse by one of its depositors was an unfair labor practice.

1976 – IWLA creates an intensive, week-long course in public warehouse management. This would become the IWLA Essentials Course.

1978 – The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the warehousemen’s lien.

tHE 80'S - 90'S

1980s – After an eight-year fight against the legality of the International Longshoreman’s Association’s 50-Mile Rule, the U.S. Supreme Court decides that the 10-Mile Rules are illegal.

1991 – Public warehousing’s share of market climbs to 16 percent, up from 8 percent in 1977. It is a $10 billion subset of a $62 billion industry.

1997 – The American Warehouse and the Canadian Association of Warehousing & Distribution Services (CAWDS) merge to form the International Warehouse Logistics Association.

1997 – IWLA works with members to create the IWLA Insurance Company, an insurance resource

2000 - pRESENT

2011 – Linda Hothem, Matson Global Distribution, is elected the association’s first woman chairman.

2011 – IWLA leads the charge to fight demurrage for warehouse operators. The U.S. Supreme Court sends the case to the Surface Transportation Board for consideration.

2012 – Two new councils are introduced to members. The IWLA Rail Council and reforms the IWLA Chemical Council. These are the first of many councils that address interests that affect specific warehouse logistics organizations.

2013 – The association recognizes the true nature of warehouse/vendor relationships by dubbing suppliers as IWLA Partner Members.

2014 – IWLA commissions a U.S.-wide study to discover which states tax warehouse services. The findings play a key role in repealing such a tax from the Minnesota statewide budget.

2014 – Introduction of a new tagline that reflects its place in the industry: The Resource for Warehouse Logistics.

2015 – A new council is formed.  The Inclusion & Diversity Council fosters and identifies opportunities to assist members in implementing diversity practices in their company.

2016 – Celebrated IWLA’s 125th anniversary with a theme “Just Getting Started.”

2017 – IWLA WAF commissions “Economic Impact of the U.S. Third-Party Logistics Warehouse Industry.”

2020 – IWLA elects Leslie Ajlouny, CMO at Evans Distribution Systems in Melvindale, Mich., as the second woman to serve as the IWLA Chairman.