In 1919 William L. White had a dream to begin a national service organization for young business and professional men. White had the spirit, he had the initiative, but this young engineer and practical idealist lacked the funding for such a major undertaking.
What to do? Surprisingly enough, turpentine played a major role in this story. The turpentine industry was centered around Valdosta, GA., and it used turpentine cups to gather crude resin from long-leaf pines. The resin was distilled and turpentine and rosin were produced.
White credits the sale of two million turpentine cups for the beginnings of the American Business Clubs in Birmingham, AL.
After he graduated from Auburn University on June 22, 1919, White lost no time in offering turpentine cups for sale. Soon, he put $1,000 in profit into a revolving expansion fund. White now had the money, and this forward-thinking man founded the first American Business Club in Birmingham on May 18, 1922.
This first club had 50 members and they adopted a constitution and the motto that is still used today:
In 1961, the acronym AMBUCS was officially entered into use by the organization.