Feb 17 2011
The competition between the two neighboring shoe factories reached the point a few years ago where the owners refused to talk to each other.
Until last month’s fire.
It was about 5 o’clock in the morning when the blaze broke out in the small Brazilian town of Picada Café. It started at the Cooper Shoes factory. If something wasn’t done quickly, both it and the Sugar Shoes factory located next door, would easily be destroyed.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
Given the fire’s early start, by the time it was discovered, no one was able to access the fire-fighting equipment at Cooper Shoes. So they went next door.
As it turns out, Sugar Shoes has a fire suppression system only because Levi Strauss & Co. required one to be installed, in accordance with local law, before we would allow the factory to make product for our brands.
Ultimately, the Sugar Shoes hydrants not only prevented the fire from spreading, but also managed to save some of the equipment at Cooper Shoes.
Daniela Cunha is my colleague in Sao Paolo. She works with our Brazilian vendors and tells me that a few days after the fire, the owner of Cooper Shoes, where the fire originated, went to Sugar Shoes…to say thank you. He was moved to tears.
In 1991, Levi Strauss & Co. was the first multinational apparel company to establish a comprehensive workplace code of conduct for our manufacturing suppliers. Our Terms of Engagement spell out requirements that must be met before a supplier can make our products.
It was those terms that paid off for the people in Picada Café last month – and for people around the world, every day.
Posted By: Choke Huckuntod, Levi Strauss & Co. Social & Environmental Sustainability
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