Germany’s ISA TanTec expects is establishing its first tannery in the United States in Mississippi to fulfill growing demand from U.S. footwear brands.
Like ISA TanTec’s two existing tanneries in China and Vietnam, the plant in Vicksburg, MS will use extremely small amounts of energy and other resources. ISA TanTec is investing more than $10 million in the factory, which is expected to employ 370 people in the long term. The plant is expected to commence operations in January, 2015.
ISA TanTech Founder and CEO Tom Schneider said many US shoe manufacturers are shifting part of their production to America.
“Several renowned brands have asked us to help them in this strategy through the production of leather in this region,” said Schneider. “The ‘Made in the USA’ label also applies to the source material: ISA TanTec buys around 500,000 hides from Texas every year for export to its Asian tanneries.”
Schneider did not name which brands had requested US made leather, but ISA TanTec lists Lacrosse, Merrell, New Balance, Sperry Top-Sider, Teva, The North Face, Timberland, Ugg, and Wolverine as customers on its website. Timberland Materials Sourcing Manager Rick LaTouch currently serve together on the executive committee of the Leather Working Group (LWG), a trade association which has been working since 2005 to improve the sustainability of tanneries.
The new Mississippi tannery will be designed to attract a cluster of shoe, belt and other leather goods manufacturers to Vicksburg. ISA TanTec will provide both production areas and infrastructure as well as services for engineering and production management for those tenants on site. At the same time, companies will be able to use the resources of ISA TanTec in areas such as administration, HR, finance, and logistics.
The facility be LWG Gold certified and meet the strict requirements of Low Impact to Environment, or LITE and be audited according to the ECO2L protocol. There are currently no LWG Gold certified footwear tanneries in the United States, according to LWG’s website.