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Garment-maker Esquel calls the Triple-A approach
May '08
Companies can make money while operating in a socially responsible and environmentally friendly way. It just takes what supply chain expert Hau Lee calls the Triple-A approach -having agility, adaptability, and alignment.

At a recent Global Supply Chain Management Forum, Professor Lee of Stanford's Graduate School of Business and an Independent Director of Esquel, described how small to mid-sized companies in China, India, and Israel boosted profits while shrinking waste and pollution and providing a fair workplace for employees.

The April 22 program drew 260 participants to the Business School from foundations, technology firms, think tanks, retail companies, and consumer product makers.

Rather than focus on troubled companies experiencing a manufacturing crisis, such as the recalls of Chinese-made Mattel toys contaminated by lead paint, Lee rolled out some success stories.

“We are talking about supply chains which share risks, gains, and costs, and have a partnership mentality, as opposed to [strictly] a transactional relationship,” Lee said.

He described an irrigation-system producer from Israel that made complex technology available to poor farmers, a business helping small farmers and their middlemen in India get higher prices for crops, and a garment maker in China practicing sustainable manufacturing. “They are small to medium-sized companies,” said Lee, “yet each in its own right has done something special.”

Israel-based Netafim makes irrigation systems that deliver water and fertilizer to crops—an increasingly important function as water grows scarce in many parts of the world.

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