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A “First” for 1,000,000 Year-Old Industry…..

Apr 9

By Steve Jesseph

Do you remember your first kiss?  Or, the first time you drove a car?  Or, your first day of class in high school?  Most of us do because they were momentous occasions, days we looked forward to and days which were “milestones” in our lives.  I had one such day last week while in Hong Kong.  I was asked to be one of five judges to select the “Tannery of the Year” award issued by World Leather Magazine.  This was the first award of its kind in the leather industry.  I was honored and humbled yet excited at the same time to participate in another “first” for an industry that has been with us in one shape or form for almost 1,000,000 years.

Last summer, I met Simon Yarwood, publisher of World Leather Magazine at the “Beast to Beauty” Leatherwise Conference in Northampton, England.  Northampton is the center of a once thriving leather and footwear industry, home to the leather museum, and is still home to a few stellar leather companies.  Simon is a serious, intellectual man with the wry sense of humor that only an Englishman could have.  He’s also very bright, is a publisher through and through, and is fully committed to the leather industry worldwide.  While the industry has taken its share of knocks for environmental challenges and some accusations regarding the treatment of animals from which the hides/leather come, Simon recognized that a significant number of leather companies and tanneries have management who exemplify excellence in corporate management.  His goal was to identify and recognize “the best of the best” in the industry, and to create an award to recognize their service to the industry and the communities in which they do business.

Tanneries from around the world were judged on their commitment to and actions in corporate and social responsibility, community involvement, environmental practices, financial performance and sustainability.  Of the ten finalists, five regional winners were named with the Pittards Ethiopia Tannery Share Company being selected as the global Tannery of the Year.  The awards were presented before more than 300 attendees at a gala celebration at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center held in conjunction with the Asia Pacific Leather Fair.

Corporate social and environmental responsibility – as a term and concept – is only a decade or so old.  Yet, within this important and sustainable industry, it was refreshing to see just how many companies are fully committed to “doing the right thing” in their business and as part of their local communities.  It is easy to stand on the sidelines of any business and industry and criticize.  It is something all together different to create a business, hire employees, pay taxes and produce a product that so many need AND be a responsible corporate citizen at the same time.  To all those managers and executives who took the time to participate in this “first” for the industry, I salute you.  To the rest of the industry, I urge you to read about the award in World Leather magazine and learn from the candidates.  Each and every one has an excellent story to tell.

27 April 2010
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22 April 2010
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16 April 2010
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