‘In connection with the omnipresent fact of competition, consider the economic position of the industry. Our raw material is a byproduct over which we have very little control. The uniformity and homogenity of our raw material leaves a good deal to be desired.

‘From the standpoint of prices, hides and skins are notorious among economists as sensitive commodities. That is, they up (and down) very frequently and rapidly and for little reason.

On the other hand, tanners sell their leathers to an industry where they have, of course, little voice in the matter of the final price the consumer pays. The course of shoe prices in recent years has been downward, dictated by a terrific battle for volume in the shoe industry.

‘These two millstones, raw material prices and shoe prices, both of which are somewhat irrational, are on either side of the tanning industry. You can see in them the explanation for a good deal of the pressure, both actual and always potential, of competitive alternative materials.

‘Cheap shoes and sky-rocketing raw materials can make a very unpleasant situation. They spell competitive disadvantage for leather and increased consumption of substitutes.

‘You may wonder why practical and hard-boiled executives permit the raw material market to go willy-nilly or permit themselves to be whipsawed into a battle for volume where everyone loses. I sincerely hope you wonder, because in your hands, gentlemen, lies the future of the leather industry.’

So which year was this written? 2001, 1999, 1969? No, 1935 actually.

Percival E Foerderer, Chairman of the Board, Tanners’ Council of America (JALCA 1935 30 (8) 413)

Seemingly, some things never change.