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Rob DeMartini isn’t afraid to speak up. While presenting at the FN Summit, DeMartini — vice chair-man of the American Apparel & Footwear Association and president and CEO of New Balance — outlined the trade organi- zation’s advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., which remains in a state of gridlock.
“The AAFA is an advocate for important issues impacting the footwear and apparel industries, such as corporate social responsibility, the environment, increasing business efficiency andcommunicationsstrategies,”DeMartinisaid. “Ourmotive for lobbying in Washington is to help influence laws and regula- tions to help your bottom line.”
In addition to providing actionable solutions, the AAFA achieves its mission by providing members with valuable intelligence to make informed business decisions that enhance earnings and mitigate risk, according to DeMartini.
Another way the association wields influence is by communi- cating the industry’s goals and needs to the public to deepen its understanding and knowledge about the sector, DeMartini said. Most recently, he added, New Balance benefited by teaming up with the AAFA to force the recognition of a law stipulating that U.S. soldiers must have American-made uniforms, including footwear.
DeMartini said the law, called the Berry Amendment was passed in 1941, but stopped being followed in 2011 in regard to footwear. Following lobbying efforts in Washington by the AAFA, New Balance and its competitors, the law was again implemented in May to include athletic shoes.
“The AAFA was very helpful in working the back channels about this business issue, and it’s a great example of what this powerful organization can help you do,” DeMartini said.