Jeff Schoep, leader of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), took on his role as “commander” of the organization in 1994 when he was only 21 years old. The previous leadership felt that Schoep, who had been active in the NSM from an early age, might appeal more to racist skinheads and other young white supremacists.
When Schoep assumed leadership of the group, it had been operating on the fringes of neo-Nazi movement and was eclipsed by larger and more prominent groups such as Aryan Nations and especially the National Alliance. Schoep proved to be an energetic leader and was able to recruit younger, more active members into the group. By the early 2000s, the NSM had numerous chapters and between 100 and 200 members.
In conjunction with these developments, other changes such as the death and decline of leaders of various other neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups such as National Alliance, Aryan Nations, National Vanguard and the Creativity Movement , allowed Schoep to emerge as one of the longer-lasting neo-Nazi leaders. He has also managed to keep his group together despite internal bickering, which led to splits in 2006 and 2007, and the departure from the group of former NSM leaders. Those who left included Cliff Herrington, who had been the one to hand over the reins to Schoep in 1994; Bill White, the group's former media liaison, and John Taylor Bowles, who had been the NSM's 2008 presidential candidate. All three went on to form their own neo-Nazi organizations but the organizations formed by White and Bowles are currently defunct.
Herrington briefly returned and participated in NSM events such as the group’s national rally in St. Louis in April 2009, and its anti-immigration rally in Knoxville, Tennessee, in August 2010. By the end of 2010, however, Herrington was back promoting the Nationalist Socialist Freedom Movement, a group he had formed in 2006 when he first left the NSM.
Schoep has taken advantage of the new technologies on the Internet to spread the NSM's virulently anti-Semitic and racist message more broadly and easily, and led the group's expansion into the white power music business.