Robert D. Inman was born in Miami County, Ohio, on August 11, 1853. He was the oldest of two sons and two daughters of Asa and Lucinda Inman. The family first came to America in the seventeenth century, immigrating from England and settling in Vermont. Inman's paternal grandfather, Ahab Inman, was born to the emigrant family in that state. He became a pioneer of Miami County, Ohio and served the colonies in the American Revolutionary War. 
   Asa Inman, Robert's father, was a natural mechanic, a trait that Robert would inherit. During the Civil War, Asa enlisted in the service and at the battle of Shilo, he was killed while defending the stars and stripes. His wife reared Robert and the younger brother and sisters. 
   Robert attended schools when he could, but as the oldest boy he was expected to spend most of his time assisting the family in making a living. At the age of eight, he began his career as a towboy on the old Ohio canal. He worked in Ohio until age twelve when he joined a train of emigrants bound for the Pacific coast. After seven months, he arrived in Oregon and worked for a time on a farm. In June 1869, at the age of sixteen, he moved to Portland, where he worked for the west side road cutting ties. Following that, he worked as a brakeman and fireman with the railroad. After that he worked for two years with the John Wilson circus, and in 1875 was hired by the Willamette steam mills. He was quickly promoted to a position in the machinist department, where he remained for seven years. He later worked with the Northern Pacific Lumber Company as a one-quarter owner and director. 

Robert D. Inman   In 1890, Robert entered into a partnership with Johan Poulsen, and the Inman-Poulsen Lumber Company was incorporated with
   Robert as President. The company developed into the largest lumber operation in the state of Oregon at the time and one of the largest on the Pacific Coast.
   In 1892 Robert was elected to the State Legislature, serving in the 1893 session. He was elected to the State Senate on the Citizen's ticket in 1900 and served in the 1901 session. He resigned this position when he was nominated for the office of mayor of Portland, an election he lost. 
   In 1895 he was elected as the first chairman to lead a newly formed manufacturing association called the Manufacturers Association of the Northwest, AOI's earliest predecessor. He served in this position for one year. 
   The book History of Oregon, III describes our first chairman: 
"During his lifetime, there was no man in Portland or in the state of Oregon, who was more universally respected than Robert D. Inman. His life was a living illustration of what can be accomplished if one but has the perseverance. His motto has been "honesty and fairness to all," and with the natural business sagacity with which he seemed to be endowed, Mr. Inman stopped at nothing."

History of Oregon, III 979.1 C181, Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon, p.147 92-P832P