For the week of Oct. 18-24
>> How not to make friends with the media: Want to be sure the media regards your company with added scrutiny when things aren't going so well? Then be sure to return a call with a friendly tone and then when you find out who it is, comment angrily, "Well, if I'd known it was you, I wouldn't have returned your call." SNEWSÂ® View: Any company representative who does this (and it happened to us recently while investigating a story, we kid you not) should be placed in remedial PR classes by his or her company and forced to sit in the corner with a dunce cap. There are professional ways to handle inquiries from the media, and this is not one of them!
>> Efforts to increase the federal minimum wage have been deterred as the Senate voted "no" to the measure on Oct. 19. The lowest allowable wage, $5.15 an hour, has been in effect since 1997. A labor-backed measure by Sen. Edward Kennedy would have raised the minimum to $6.25 over an 18-month period. The amendment to a spending bill went down 51-47, and the GOP alternative 57-42. Under a Senate agreement, they would have needed 60 votes for approval. Kennedy had modified the proposal, which originally called for a $2.15 increase over 26 months, in hopes of attracting more Republicans. Republican opponents, echoing the arguments of business groups, said higher minimum wages can work against workers if they force small businesses to cut payrolls or go out of business. Republican Sen. Mike Enzi offered a proposal that would provide tax and regulatory relief for small business, permit tips to be credited in complying with minimum wage hikes and expand the small business exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act. It also would have put into law a "flextime" system, opposed by organized labor as an assault on overtime pay, under which workers could work more in one week and take time off the next. Both proposals, amendments to a fiscal 2006 spending bill, needed 60 votes to pass.
>> Timberland is teaming up with an unlikely partner to create a limited edition boot and T-shirts: Academy Award nominee and actor Don Cheadle. Together, they have created a limited edition "Save Darfur" boot to raise awareness of the crisis and inspire civic and political action to help stop the genocide. The black leather boot, designed by Cheadle, includes a picture of Africa and the words "Stomp Out Genocide" on the boot's sole. One hundred pairs of the limited edition boots were distributed to humanitarian activists, policy makers, journalists and entertainment professionals, who have raised awareness of and championed change in Darfur. Timberland has also designed "Save Darfur" T-shirts and boot hangtags to inspire consumers and generate funds to help create change in the Sudan. Available only at Timberland retail and online (www.timberland.com), the T-shirts and hangtags will be sold for $24 and $5, respectively, with 100 percent of the profits going to AmeriCares, which is providing aid in the Sudan. Because of his activism, Cheadle was asked by a congressional delegation to accompany their fact-finding mission to Darfur in January 2005. He has dedicated himself to build the peace in Darfur through his active leadership in partnership with the Save Darfur Coalition (www.savedarfur.org). Jeffrey Swartz, president and CEO of Timberland, said, "We are not policy makers, politicians or activists -- and so we proceed respectfully, sensitively and humbly -- but within our rights and obligation as citizens of this planet."
>> Fox River is joining three other U.S. hosiery mills to showcase socks made with Ingeo fiber in Japan at a special event at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo coordinated by NatureWorks, makers of Ingeo and a subsidiary of Cargill. Ingeo is a manmade fiber created from 100 percent annually renewable resources, such as corn. Besides Fox River, which will introduce an Ingeo athletic sock, the other mills include Harriss and Covington Hosiery Mills of High Point, N.C., Johnson Hosiery Mills of Hickory, N.C., and Twin City Knitting Co. of Conover, N.C. Each mill was chosen because they carry non-competing Ingeo lines, which will be presented to leading Japanese retailers. The U.S. Department of Commerce and the state commerce departments in North Carolina and Iowa are supporting the Nov. 8 sales campaign. "Of the nearly 2 billion bushels of corn produced in Iowa each year, 410 million bushels are wet-milled into various products that now include socks," said Joel Anderson, Fox River's branded division president. "These socks are made with a renewable product and are completely biodegradable in less than 50 days. For Fox River, it's just one more step on our sustainability path."
>> With the support of an endowment from Superfeet, the Robert M. Palmer, M.D., Institute of Biomechanics opened the doors to its 60,000-square-foot facility in the Historical City Hall building in Elwood, Ind. The landmark was donated to the Institute by the city's mayor and the Elwood Historical Society on the condition that the building receives $100,000 worth of renovations. The funds for renovations will come from Superfeet -- the first corporate sponsor -- over the next five years. Founded by Pam Haig, C. Ped, in 1996, the Institute teaches advanced biomechanics for those in the foot and ankle care professions, and footwear and orthotic industries. The Institute offers courses such as applied anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, orthopedic shoe modifications, and diabetic and retail shoe fitting. It is the first school to specialize in pedorthic biomechanics in a two-year Associates Degree in Applied Sciences and created an international "Partners in Alignment" campaign to prevent juvenile obesity and diabetes. Classes are slated to begin in the facility in February 2006. The building will also house the national headquarters for Pedorthic Biomechanical Education and the Indiana State Pedorthic Association.
>> Backcountry.com is urging customers to "Dream On," offering more than 25,000 ski movie DVDs and a chance to win a ski trip. It recently teamed with ski filmmakers Teton Gravity Research, The North Face and Gore-Tex to produce a ski DVD titled "Dream On," featuring unseen outtakes of two North Face-sponsored athletes, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and Jeremy Nobis, from the recent ski film "Tangerine Dream." It will be distributed free to 25,000 Backcountry.com customers between Oct. 31 to Dec. 31, 2005. The Dream On DVD will be sent to anyone who purchases an item built by The North Face that incorporates Gore-Tex technology. Backcountry.com staff has also picked a number of other different ski products on the site for which the purchase will trigger inclusion of the video. Simultaneously, Backcountry.com is running the Dream On Contest, a chance to win a four-day/three-night ski trip for two to Snowbird, including spending one day of the trip skiing with either Cattabriga-Alosa or Nobis. Along with accommodations and lift tickets, the winner will receive a choice of any two ski outfits from The North Face that are built with Gore-Tex as well as the 10-year anniversary Teton Gravity Research box set, featuring all of its ski and snowboard films. For more details on the DVD promotion or the contest, visit www.backcountry.com.
>> Having outgrown its current headquarters, LaCrosse Footwear has signed a long-term operating lease for a new 145,000-square-foot building in Portland, Ore., to house its corporate headquarters and the distribution center for its Danner products. Construction is slated to begin in November, with an expected move-in on June 1, 2006. With the custom-designed facility, LaCrosse said it will be laying an important foundation in preparation for future growth.
>> Nike's 175-acre world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., is the first West Coast corporate campus to earn Salmon-Safe certification. Established in 1996, the rigorous Salmon-Safe standards encourage agricultural landowners to go above and beyond regulations to improve habitat so that salmon can return to native streams and spawn and thrive. Based on Salmon-Safe's independent certification process, an operation is considered Salmon-Safe when both its impact upon aquatic ecosystems is assessed and any negative impacts on water quality and fish habitat are minimized. Salmon-Safe certification includes on-site inspection by qualified inspectors to ensure that growers are meeting the standards which have been set. As part of its certification, Nike will add to its program to minimize stormwater runoff from buildings and parking lots by developing a long-term plan to continue to restore the Cedar Mill Stream on its campus, developing policies to further shift away from chemical pesticides, and increasing water conservation.
>> Keen Footwear continues with its philanthropic mission of giving nearly $1 million to a variety of non-profit organizations that are helping those affected by natural disasters. To date Keen has contributed cash to assist AmeriCares in the relief and rehabilitation of tsunami-affected countries in south Asia, hurricane Katrina victims and most recently, earthquake victims in Pakistan. An AmeriCares airlift has arrived in Pakistan, bringing 30,000 pounds of medical relief to aid the millions of people affected by the recent 7.6 magnitude earthquake. AmeriCares is partnering with the humanitarian agency Islamic Relief, which has mobilized relief teams throughout the region to assess the needs of survivors. Teams are working to distribute disaster relief supplies including antibiotics, analgesics and basic first-aid supplies valued at $1.5 million.
>> Small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms and employ half of all private sector employees, according to the 2005 Small Business FAQ, released by the Office of Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Other factoids gleaned: Two-thirds of new employer establishments survive at least two years after start-up, and 44 percent survive at least four years. In 2004, an estimated 580,900 employer firms opened, while an estimated 576,200 closed. Firms with fewer than 20 employees spend 45 percent more per employee than the largest firms to comply with federal regulations. Over the past decade, small business net job creation fluctuated between 60 percent and 80 percent. Small businesses generate more than 50 percent of the nonfarm private gross domestic product. Lastly, women own 6.5 million businesses that generate $950.6 billion in revenues, and employ 7.2 million workers. To obtain a copy of the 2005 SmallBusiness FAQ, click here.
>> Cascade Designs donated 600 Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads -- a $12,000 retail value -- to the Pakistan Earthquake Relief Fund. Voltek, a supplier to Cascade Designs, has contributed to the effort by donating the specialty foam required to manufacture the RidgeRests portable sleeping pads.
>> North American Gear, distributor of Origo and Primus, has hired Colorado-based Backbone Media to handle public relations and brand development. NA Gear (www.nagear.com) has plans to expand its array of brands in the future.
>> Sears Holdings Corp. has formally named David McCreight as president of Lands' End. McCreight has been acting as interim president of the clothing brand since Aug. 4, 2005. He joined Lands' End in 2003 as chief merchant.
>> Darn Tough was so stoked to be included in Shape Magazine's "Best Gym Socks" report that it had to share the news. Shape testers walked, ran and otherwise sweated in 21 styles, and listed their top seven favorites in the November 2005 issue. Along with Darn Tough, some other industry players who made the cut were Smartwool, New Balance and Ingenius.
>> The state of Pennsylvania is funding various projects and investing $5.5 million to support the expansion of Cabela's retail store in Berks County. The state's commitment is also attracting nearly $2.1 million in private sector investment. The Hamburg Municipal Authority received a $3.89 million PennWorks loan and a $687,250 PennWorks grant for the upgrade and expansion of the Pine Street Pump Station, which provides service to Cabela's. The 350,000-square-foot expansion project will attract hotels, a travel center, restaurants and other commercial entities bringing 850 new jobs to the area. Also, the state presented the first funding ever awarded through the Infrastructure and Facilities Improvement Program (IFIP) to the Berks County Industrial Development Authority, on behalf of Cabela's. The IDA received $930,000 for debt service on federally taxable tax incremental revenue bonds and will receive $930,000 for the next nine years. The bonds were issued by the IDA to primarily finance the initial Cabela's retail project. Approximately $1 million of the IFIP funds will support the expansion project.
>> GERMANY -- In a follow-up to last week's news that Peter Knoll has left as the head of the project group overseeing the ispo winter and summer sporting goods shows, Knoll has moved on to become the general manager for Quiksilver for Germany and other central European countries, as well as Eastern Europe and Russia. Knoll's replacement, Tobias Groeber, has overseen the outdoor, running, and ski areas, and had worked directly with former director Knoll in the last 8.5 years on the overhaul and reworking of the ispo image, format and direction. "It will certainly be a challenge but it also a huge opportunity for me," Groeber told SNEWSÂ®. "Personally I regret losing Peter as a colleague here since we worked so closely together for so long." ispo is in the process of seeking a replacement for Groeber's role.