Vlog: Producing Snowboards in China

by / Friday, 15 May 2015 / Published in Vlog

Today I’m going to tell you about one of the experiences that set me on my current path. Early in my career, I worked with Grant Wellington, producing high-quality snowboards in Vancouver. This was top of the line equipment, made in a well-maintained factory with high safety standards and well-paid workers. I was about to find out that that wasn’t really what manufacturing was all about, not for most of the world at least.

When I got hired to do production management for a price point snowboard brand, I got sent to China. In the Chinese factories, there were no health or safety protocols; every corner that could be cut would be cut. It reminded me of one of those goofy workplace safety videos where everyone’s running around through toxic chemicals without any protection.

It wasn’t simply the factory’s fault. The whole business model – selling to big box stores who want everything cheaper, cheaper, cheaper, big box stores who had too much power to send back full shipments of stock – was driving this race to the bottom.

But when I asked the factory manager, I learned that employees did have access to protection. However, none of the employees were willing (or required) to wear it.

So, I learned, it wasn’t just providing the equipment. It was also an issue of education and regulation, neither of which were in place. It was a complex problem and when I left that company, I brought that insight with me to my next position.

Now it’s one of the cores that drives Ethical Profiling.