History of LJA


Originally founded in 1987 as the Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Association – (PFDMA) was
founded as an association of manufacturers of life jackets and components with a mission to increase
life jacket wear in all appropriate activities; through education, product innovation, standards
development and enhancing communication between members and stakeholders.

PFDMA the association was managed as a 501(c)(6) under the National Marine
Manufacturers Association (NMMA). Voting membership was guided by manufactures exclusively and
primarily focused on technical standards and advancements in design and certification through testing
laboratories and the United States Coast Guard. Under this industry-based association model they
elected to impose a self-tax of one cent on every life jacket label. That revenue stream was collected by
the testing laboratories and deposited back into the association to fund programs, research, and staffing
services, provided by NMMA.

In 2019 the Executive Board made a big move to transform the association into a non-
profit 501(c)(3) model and solicited the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators
(NASBLA) to help them re-define themselves, their mission and membership engagement. The newly
formed Life Jacket Association (LJA) spent the early years in the redesign process and were consumed by
creation of Bylaws, incorporation as a non-profit.

The central issues of the 2023 amendments are intended to address membership and membership
rights. Until now, the main category of membership with voting rights had to be manufacturers. This
placed too much focus on members with common business interests, which is more like a 501(c)(6).
Limited voting authority to manufacturers also severely restricted who could serve on the Executive
Board. These amendments will open the membership categories in a way that will promote more
engagement and diversity in relation to the promotion of LJA’s 501(c)(3) mission. The move away from a
strictly manufacturer-based association has been challenging and now in the revised Bylaws the
association we look forward to expanding membership and member engagement in all aspects of the
association.is now inclusive of the diversity of all parties in the voting member category who want to
assist the Association in its mission which has not changed from the original principles to advance the
interests of the boating community in the use and wear of life jackets through development of
technical standards, governmental relations, and interaction, as well as the education of and
communication with the public on wearing and usage of life jackets.

An exciting project being made possible by our partnership with Kalkomey Enterprises, LLC. we are
building a Life Jacket Technician certification program. Designed to be an on-line learning experience
with knowledge plus levels of education to elevate technician level training to assure that participants
select the right life jacket, right for the activity, and the right fit. Providing advanced knowledge about
life jackets including maintenance and care. Watch for the launch of this new program in 2024.

As LJA matures as a non-profit association true to its Mission, we hope you will join and support our
efforts in increasing life jacket wear across all maritime activities, recreational and commercial.