Archive for September, 2011
If you’re someone who spends all day on your feet (or, if you just FEEL like you do), the latest installment in our 10-sec tech video playlist is for you. We’ve found the perfect solution for sore, tired feet and we call it “anti-fatigue technology:”
There may, in fact, be more to our anti-fatigue technology than marshmallow soles and cucumber facials (say it isn’t so!), and those of you wanting to pull back the curtain just a little more are invited to watch our VP of Men’s Footwear, Brian, explain the concept in more detail. And whether you’re a doubter or a dreamer, you’re sure to find a pair of anti-fatigue boots or shoes on our website that will keep you energized and on your feet, all day long.
Talk about work perks: look who stopped by to give us a live performance here at Timberland headquarters last Friday afternoon!
Thank you, Andy Grammer, for sharing yourself and your music with us (and for letting us sing along with you, even though we’re far better bootmakers than we are vocalists).
Heading back to school isn’t the only good excuse for buying a great new bag or backpack this fall; our new Earthkeepers™ Stratham Series includes bags perfect for laptop lugging, day tripping, hiking, commuting and all-around exploring. See?
The Stratham Series is part of Timberland’s Earthkeepers™ Collection, which features products made with recycled and organic materials and/or leathers from tanneries that have been Silver-rated for improved energy, water and waste management. Our Stratham bags feature 55% organic cotton canvas, antiqued brass hardware and premium nubuck leather trim – inspired by packs of earlier eras, but incorporating modern-day materials and functionality.
This beautiful collection of bags has gained quick popularity around the globe, and depending on where you shop, supplies are temporarily limited! US shoppers will find Stratham bags in retail stores only until November (then you’ll also be able to buy them on Timberland.com); bag buyers in the rest of the world may find them on your country’s Timberland website or in stores.
Got the bag, need a boot?
Even accessories need accessories; pick a pair of our Stratham Heights boots to complement your Stratham bag, and you’re good to go!
CEOs don’t get paid to watch the grass grow. So, staring out the window this morning, looking at the Victory Garden sprouting in its raised beds in our front yard here at Timberland is hardly serving my shareholders, which is my fiduciary responsibility.
But staring I am, as Yoda might say.
A few months ago, we announced that VF Corp, a powerful force in our industry would pay $43 a share to our shareholders, acquiring the company and the brand and the culture that my grandfather founded, my father built and I stewarded. Between Nathan and Sidney and Jeff, we have invested more than 100 years of our living in an idea and a dream and a passion. And so when we made the announcement, we did so with a wicked strange blend of bone rattling emotions.
How to think about this, as the last sturdy vegetables, flowers and herbs strain towards a September sky here in New Hampshire? We built this Victory Garden a few years ago, and I honestly get deep joy watching my colleagues invest some of their Path of Service volunteer hours to compost and mulch and sow and reap organic produce, which is sold in our headquarters, with the proceeds going to feed the working poor here in southern New Hampshire. When the idea of paid time to volunteer in the community was an idea, it burned in my gut. When victory gardens and codes of conducts for ensuring basic human rights went from an idea to a shared passion, things started to happen. And when shared passion bore fruit, sustainable change began to appear. One bed of vegetables in the New Hampshire corporate wilderness became a full scale garden, and has continued to spread across the blank, industrial face of our HQ building. Hardy fruit trees now surround the flagpole in front. Makes me smile. And honestly, this morning, generates some tears too.
For three generations, we’ve tried to create and master a weird new kind of modern dance—the one that blends the foxtrot of “fiduciary responsibility to shareholders” with the tango of “authentic brand building,” with the Alvin Ailey contortion of “sustainable for profit business practice.” Today, having sold the company, I am sitting in the corner office/dance studio of a for-profit business poised on the brink of becoming a truly sustainable enterprise, reflecting, wondering.
Recently, I listened to the acquirer’s CEO addressing Timberland employees, in an open air town hall meeting (we take the 10 minutes of New England summer time seriously here, and so when we can meet outdoors, we do). It tore my guts out, to sit in the community gathering as a listener, watching my colleagues watching the new boss, wondering what changes are in store for our brand, our business, our community.
I held my breath for much of the 90 minutes outdoors, listening to the new leader speak, watching my colleagues listen. And then, in best Timberland/New England fashion, the town hall went to work, with questions, respectful but engaged, authentic, old-fashioned civic democracy. Employees acting like citizens, raising fears, expressing concerns, asking for information.
Made me smile and shake my head. This is New Hampshire, which means some time too soon, a whole host of slick candidates will parade through our small towns, playing at democracy. Staged, phony, self-dealing, pandering politicians. Watching the new guy standing in front of the Timberland community was inspiring—reminded me that the right kind of for-profit business leaders are really accountable, personally and practically, in a way that should be a model for our so-called political leaders. Whatever this leader said or committed to, his employees will hold him to account. Not once every four years—every single day. Engaged democracy—not a fiction or an aspiration, rather a principle in practice, even in a stressful circumstance.
And right on queue, as I was appreciating democracy in actual practice, an environmental activist in our ranks rose, way in the back, to ask the new guy, the Boss to Be, about sustainability.
“Tell us, please, why sustainability is important to you.”
Wow. That is town hall democracy the way Rockwell painted it. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide—respectful, but a “no quarter granted” question.
And the man with whom I negotiated hard and long for the best possible deal for shareholders stood his ground, and answered, authentically and naturally. “The answer is simple—we believe that sustainability is good for the business and good for the world environmentally.”
He went on; the answer got more detailed and more concrete. But I had stopped listening.
For 30 years, we’ve been trying, fighting, struggling, to choreograph the intricate interaction between shareholder value, consumer demand, and social accountability. I have the scars, and the long list of failed efforts, incomplete outcomes, unrealized dreams and frustrated ambitions before my eyes all the time that reflect this passionate effort. And yet in this poignant moment of transition, from a business run by my family for three generations to a business to be run by relative strangers–here is the CEO of a 10B$ powerhouse, talking about sustainability simply and easily—good for business, good for the earth. And he means what he says. And it strikes me, hard, as I sit there—30 years later, a vitally important conversation has shifted. Maybe, there comes a time to say, “my job here is finished.”
Used to be, “what in the world does for-profit business have to do with social issues? That’s the purview of the government or the church.” And yet here, and now—I hear this powerful leader telling my colleagues, announcing to the whole damn world, that the question is not “if” corporations should be involved in questions of sustainability—not “if,” only “how.” Thirty years later–the corporate conversation turns from “if” to “how.”
Has been one heckuva journey, these nearly 30 years…
Watching the Victory Garden struggle up towards the heavens on this, my final morning at work in corporate America….
10 years ago today, a group of Timberland employees were in New York City, preparing to head to the Clara Barton School in the Bronx for a day of community service.
Our CEO Jeff Swartz was among them. The following is an excerpt from an email he sent later that day to the Timberland community:
As we stood on 5th Avenue this morning, and saw the flames and smoke from the World Trade Center, as we waited to board buses to take us from the safety and security and comfort of midtown Manhattan to the one of the bleakest neighborhoods in urban America—as we stood there, our hearts melted. And our fears multiplied. And our hearts raced.
But we went, from midtown to the Bronx. And by the time the ride was over, the news was clearer, and the emerging clarity did just the opposite of what it usually does—instead of feeling more confident as we knew more, we felt less comfort, more nausea.
When we got off the buses, I told everyone what we knew, and asked the 125 men and women assembled what was in their hearts. Should we stay, and do the planned day of service at the Clara Barton School in the Bronx, or should we try to find a way out of New York, away from the horror and the fear? And in small quiet groups of people, the decision was made, to stay, and to serve.
And so a small group of people, on a small concrete patch in the Bronx, responded to hatred with love today. They met anger with kindness. They exacted revenge—but the revenge of sweat in good purpose, rather than the revenge of blood spilled in rage. While we called our families, and consoled each other, and reeled at the news, we stood together, and we served together. We showed a group of children that there are competing models for how the adult world can work. There is the model of destruction, and hatred, and despair, and by contrast, there is the model of creation, and community and even congregation—different people, committed to the common goal and good. (Clara Barton’s) Principal Parker told us that he would always remember today for the evil that was done, and he would never forget today for the goodness that was wrought.
Our hearts grieve with all who have lost, and our prayers, from our different traditions and faiths and personal points of view are united in gratitude to those brave men and women who struggle to protect us, and care for the hurt, and rescue the injured. May all who are grieved be comforted. May each and every broken body and heart and mind be mended, completely and speedily. And may each of us find within ourselves the strength to affirm what is expected of us—to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly, with our God and with our fellows.
10 years later, our hearts and minds return to New York City. In honor of the fallen and the heroes, the communities divided by tragedy and terror – and those united in spite of it – we remember.