Open letter to the entire leather supply chain

By Steven Jeske, GST/Seton Autoleather
Published:  10 June, 2016

Stephen Jeske of automotive leather maker, GST/Seton Autoleather, writes an open letter to ILM. Below is the text of the letter which was first published in the May/June 2016 edition of International Leather Maker.

Dear Editor and Leather Industry Members,

On behalf of GST/Seton AutoLeather, I am writing to all leather industry executives to introduce an idea that I would like your feedback on and, more importantly, your participation. For those of you who don’t know our company, we are a leading global supplier of leather components to the automotive industry, and have been involved in the business since the inception of the first motor vehicle.

We have seen a tremendous surge in the usage of leather products over the last twenty years, and it has been a fruitful period for many associated companies. However, we are now noticing a direct customer/consumer shift to more synthetic products being used for the surface material applications across several OEM’s and vehicle segments. Reasons for this shift include lower cost and better synthetic product options but, in the end, we believe the ultimate consumer is not fully aware of the material shift. We all know the OEM’s are legally very clever in their product descriptions for the seating material and, frankly, many consumers take for granted that their “non-fabric” material is authentic leather when, in reality, it is a well-engineered manmade synthetic product. We don’t believe this is unique to the auto industry and is prevalent in other leather market segments as well.

Therefore, we believe it is time to initiate a strong authentic leather advertising campaign, spearheaded through the already established  LeatherNaturally! initiative, and take it out to the general public. We all talk about the issue in many industry forums, such as ILM, but we never get the message out to the real decision makers – the consumers.

As an analogy, most of you are aware of the very successful “Got Milk” and “Beef is for Dinner” industry advertising campaigns. We believe something similar is warranted for our wonderful authentic leather products. We must increase the awareness of the consumer because, through research clinics we have conducted, the consumer selects leather in an overwhelming majority of times when asked about preference.

So, we would like to act and take a leather message out to the general consumers.

I was hoping that a pledge of US$5K-10K per company would give us a foundation to put together a strong, professional ad campaign. I hope everyone shares in my sentiments and agrees that it is time for us to take a promotional step through the LeatherNaturally! steering committee on behalf of the industry before it is too late.

Please respond to my business e-mail address below as we will accumulate the responses and determine the next steps. Thank you for your consideration, and let’s promote the beauty and value of natural leather!!

Stephen N. Jeske

Sr. Vice President – Sales, Marketing and Product Development

stephen.jeske@gstautoleather.com

GST AutoLeather Inc.

 

For more information about Leather Naturally! visit www.leathernaturally.org

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