“They Don’t Make Swiss Watches in China” – Fiercely Competitive and Proudly Canadian

Dani Reiss, President and CEO of Canada Goose will be speaking at TSSS on March 7th.  CLICK HERE to secure your ticket today!

Made in Canada.  Three words that say a lot about what defines Canada Goose as a company and as a leader.  Over a decade ago, as growth oriented North American brands seemed to be in agreement that the road to success was paved in overseas manufacturing, Canada Goose chose to remain committed to its proud Canadian roots.  Today, the company is 54 years old and a world leading international brand for extreme weather gear, worn by arctic explorers, Iditarod champions, entertainment industry icons and citizens of over 40 countries as diverse as Greenland and Japan.

Recently, I had a chance to sit down with Dani Reiss, President and CEO of Canada Goose, to discuss what makes Canada Goose such a great Canadian story.  The company has become so successful that one of their greatest current challenges is keeping ahead of counterfeiters eager to cash in on their success and threatening to dilute the value of their brand – the Canada Goose website currently lists almost 200 websites selling counterfeit versions of their products, and the company has recently developed a hologram to be sewn into labels of products in its 2011/12 collection.

One might ask where Canada Goose differs from the opportunists who seek to copy their products, and who are producing products that, at first glance at least, are so indistinguishable from the real thing that holograms and full-time personnel scouring the Internet for counterfeit products become necessary.  In brief, counterfeit products have been found to use inferior materials (some have even been found to use insulation that is contaminated with bacteria, fungus and mildew), to be manufactured using poor labour practices, to offer little warmth (what’s the point of a winter coat that doesn’t keep you warm in winter?), and to direct consumer funds away from Canadian taxes and jobs while contributing funds to criminal gang activity.

Ok, so you know you don’t want to buy a counterfeit coat, but why do you want to buy your coat from Canada Goose?  Because Canada Goose is a company that ‘gets it’.  They get what it is to make a quality product, in a quality way, with respect for the triple bottom line of people, profits and planet.  As Reiss said, “Business has to realize that it’s more profitable to be sustainable.”  And at Canada Goose, they walk the talk of sustainability.

Canada Goose celebrates its people.  From the moment one enters their parking lot, the signs indicating parking for “Goose People” only, give both visitors and employees a feel for their corporate culture, the same culture that inspired the brave decision over a decade ago to be true to their “Made in Canada” roots.  Their shared administration and Toronto manufacturing facility has a hallway covered in positive thoughts and innovative ideas from a recent Goose People team building exercise.  And they extend the title of Goose Person to some outside the company as well, recognizing people “who strive for excellence and dedicate themselves to achieving their personal best,” with Canada Goose as a “supporting partner in facilitating not only their lives but also their personal goals.”

Canada Goose not only understands its impact on the environment but embraces its role as a planetary steward.  Eschewing what he sees as ‘trendy’ corporate environmental initiatives, such as purchasing carbon offsets, Reiss has led Canada Goose to develop meaningful partnerships with likeminded individuals and groups.  For example, recognizing that 2/3 of the world’s polar bears live in Canada, and their Arctic habitat is exactly the kind of place with the extreme weather Canada Goose’s products are made for, the company works with Polar Bears International, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of polar bears through research and education programs.

In speaking about the Canada Goose Resource Centres, which provide fabric and sewing materials to traditional sewers in Northern communities, Reiss observes that, “Doing the right thing actually has an immediate payback.  It’s good marketing, it solves a waste problem, it builds our brand, and it reinforces our relationships with our customers.”

In the natural world, it is observed that geese fly in a ‘V’ formation.  Science explains that as each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the birds that follow; by taking advantage of the wing tip vortex of the bird in front, each bird can save energy by reducing drag.  Flying in a V formation allows the flock to achieve energy savings of up to 50%.  Canada Goose is a company that understands this lesson from its namesake animal – when we have a sense of community and focus, we create trust and help each other achieve greater goals than we could independently.

Dani Reiss understands Sustainability.  Sustainability is about more than the environment.  It’s about whether you can perpetuate something that is happening into the future – for any reason, whether environmental, social, or simply fashion trend.”  Reiss knows that business and sustainability are inextricably linked in the modern world.  As Canada Goose continues to grow and prosper, it’s clear that he also knows that fiercely competitive and proudly Canadian can be just as inextricably linked.

To hear more about the Canada Goose story and how they embed sustainability into their corporate culture and operations, or to ask Dani Reiss questions such as how a sustainable environmentally responsible company chooses to use animal products such as goose down and coyote fur, or what it’s like to design a jacket with Toronto’s own hip-hop artist Drake, you won’t have to wait long.  Dani Reiss will be a guest speaker at TSSS on Wednesday March 7th.