Well done the little guys

The Toggler blog
Published:  24 October, 2013

In the last few months I have had the opportunity to visit and look around several small tanneries. These are organisations with (usually) less than 150 people making leather in small units around the world. They are located on different continents and making vastly different leathers; these businesses are the lifeblood of our sector. One might expect this to be an unremarkable experience but it was not; they all had one thing in common – enthusiasm, not only for now but for the future.

Each tannery I visited was quietly well organised. The general feel of the place was a working environment (a real tannery) but they were all tidy and clean. The attention to the environmental issues was always visible. There were quite a few basic but perfectly acceptable wastewater treatment facilities; one may not need highly sophisticated equipment to produce a reasonable discharge quality. The quality of the water being discharged was good. The sites had no major odour issues and stock was well looked after. The work flow was sound (I did not need special “tannery” shoes! to walk around) and the chemicals were neatly stored.

There was no moaning about “the market”, it might have been discussed and the high hide or skin prices referred to but not in a way that caused me to consider these places were “suicidal”. These are often family affairs and (some of) the next generation were on hand and working in the business, also a positive affirmation of the health of the small tannery element of our sector.

There were also new strategies and new products they were pleased to show. I saw new developments (including novel local raw materials) that were seriously being worked up to assess the potential market for such materials. These are not companies with huge R&D resources but individuals within organisations using their knowledge and experience to develop new ideas.

It seems the little guys are still a key part of our industry – acting positively in the modern tanning world to survive, deal with the environment and what’s more – enjoy it. Well done to them!

The Toggler

thetoggler@internationalleathermaker.com

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