Black Diamond’s Vendor Code of Conduct

With Chinese President Will Hu Jintoa’s recent visit to the United States (or equally important…some comments to this blog post), and the fact that numerous companies in the outdoor industry employ (in one way or another) people in various countries around the world (China being one of the largest), it brings up many questions regarding the health, safety, compensation and working environments of those people that make all (or at least some of) the sweet gear that we use everyday.

bdasiafromfront
Black Diamond facilities in Zhuhai, China.

While some will argue that who’s to say what really goes on in warehouses and production facilities in countries like China, companies like…hmmm, I don’t know…how about…Black Diamond, do everything they can to ensure that all workers are treated with respect, are fully compensated for the work accomplish, have a hospitable work space, are not subjected to force labor, meet all child labor laws, as well as provide a way of monitoring and documenting instances and facilities to make sure all human rights ethics and rules, as well as quality assurances are met. Black Diamond ensures this and assists vendors or partners they do business with by providing the Vendor Code of Conduct (see below), which must be enforced in order to do business with the company.

black-diamond-camalot-production
Buff working conditions for BD camalot assembly in Zhuhai.

Senior management at BD comments, “The health, welfare and safety of all those who manufacture our gear is critically important to us. To that end, we have gone, and continue to go, to great lengths to ensure all manufacturing facilities where BD equipment is made mbd-camalot-inspection-asiaeet our strict Vendor Code of Conduct. We do this via regular fair labor audits.” Black Diamond staff also notes that whether at the manufacturing facilities in Salt Lake City, UT, or in Zhuhai, China the working condition standards and product quality assurances are exactly the same.

To further add to it’s commitment to the providing the best working conditions possible, Black Diamond founded the Outdoor Industry Association’s Fair Labor Working Group and was instrumental in developing the OIA’s Fair Labor Toolkit. The Toolkit is used by many in the industry, combined with Black Diamond’s own Vendor Code of Conduct; BD visits all of their factories and third-party vendors on a regular basis, and inspects every thing from timecards to working conditions, making sure everything is up to code.

bd-tele-binding-packaging-in-asia
BD O1 telemark binding assembly and packaging.

“The factory where our skis are made is two hours from the BD Asia headquarters, and BD Asia employees are over there every week (if not more often) monitoring product during all phases of production and post-production, as well as worker health, welfare and safety. BD USA employees (including designers and quality assurance engineers) are also there every month to ensure product is built to our exacting standards.” says BD employee, who has spent the previous five years running things for the company in Asia.

bd-boot-qc-asiaLike many of the BD employees in SLC, those in Asia also have a passion for climbing and skiing, and while recently at the Outdoor Retailer Tradeshow, BD Asia representatives went both resort and backcountry skiing. “The climbing and skiing culture in BD Asia is one that we continue to support and grow, encouraging all employees to engage in these sports.” BD adds.

In a prefect world, everything we own would be made down the street by people we know and from renewable resources that were homegrown here in the US. But, with the demand from the consumer for quality products at a low price, companies are forced to look elsewhere to meet their needs. Maybe someday, our outlook on products will change and consumers will be willing to pay top dollar for US made products, but until that day comes, companies will continue to manufacture products in other countries. Lucky for us, the people Black Diamond employ in China take pride in their work and produce items that are of top quality and are attained at an affordable price.

Vendor Code of Conduct
Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd

Black Diamond Equipment Ltd. is an employee-owned manufacturer of equipment for rock climbing, alpinism and freeride skiing. By consistently building innovative products and actively preserving the mountain environment, Black Diamond has assumed a leadership role in the international outdoor community. Consistent with this role, we expect our partners—contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers—to ensure the safe and fair treatment of all employees while protecting the environment in the countries where Black Diamond operates.
This Code sets forth the fundamental requirements that all partners must meet in order to do business with Black Diamond. Additionally, the Code provides the foundation for Black Diamond’s continuing evaluation of a partner’s employment practices and environmental compliance. Black Diamond expects all its business partners to enforce the Code, and will assist them in meeting the requirements. However, Black Diamond is prepared to end partnerships with those who do not comply.

I. Scope
Black Diamond’s Vendor Code of Conduct applies to all parties that manufacture or assemble any product bearing the Black Diamond logo.

II. General Principle
Business partners shall comply fully with all legal requirements of their respective countries and with all other applicable laws, rules and regulations.

III. Employment Standards

A. Discrimination- While we recognize and respect cultural differences, vendors shall hire and compensate employees on the basis of their ability to do the job, rather than on the basis of personal characteristics or beliefs. Black Diamond will seek business partners that share this value, and that do not discriminate in hiring and employment practices on grounds of race, color, sex, religion, political opinion, nationality, social origin, social status, indigenous status, disability, age (except for children), or other status of the individual unrelated to the individual’s ability to perform his/her job.

B. Forced Labor- Vendors shall not use forced labor of any kind; this includes prison, indentured, bonded and otherwise. No employee shall be made to work through force or intimidation of any kind.

C. Child Labor- Vendors shall employ only workers who meet the applicable minimum legal age requirement or are at least 15 years of age, whichever is greater. Vendors shall comply with all applicable child labor laws including those related to hiring, wages, hours worked, overtime and working conditions. Vendors shall maintain official documentation for every employee that verifies the employee’s date of birth. In those countries where official documents are not available to confirm exact date of birth, the vendor shall confirm age using an appropriate and reliable evaluation method.

D. Wages and Benefits- Wages must equal or exceed the minimum wage or the prevailing industry wage, whichever is higher, and legally mandated benefits shall also be provided. Wages shall be paid directly to the employee in cash, check or the equivalent, and written information relating to wages shall be provided to employees in a form they understand. This written wage statement must include days worked, wage or piece rate earned per day, hours of overtime at each specified rate, bonuses, allowances and legal or contractual deductions.

E. Hours of Work/Overtime- While it is understood that overtime is often required in a manufacturing environment, vendors shall carry out operations in ways that limit overtime to a level that ensures humane and productive working conditions. Employees shall not be required, except in extraordinary circumstances, to work more than sixty hours per week, including overtime, or the local legal requirement, whichever is less. Employees shall be fully compensated for all overtime hours according to local law. Each employee will be informed at the time of hiring if mandatory overtime is a condition of employment. All employees receive a minimum of one day off in seven.

F. Freedom of Association- Participants will recognize and respect the right of employees to exercise their lawful rights of free association and collective bargaining. Where the right to freedom of association is restricted under law, vendors must allow their employees to raise with the vendors’ representatives any job-related grievances the employees may have, without penalty or reprisal.

G. Disciplinary Practices- No employee shall be subject to any physical, sexual, psychological or verbal harassment or abuse. This includes, but is not limited to, corporal punishment, threats of violence, sexual harassment, and screaming or other verbal abuse.

IV. Health & Safety
Vendors must treat all employees with respect and dignity, and comply with all applicable laws and regulations regarding working conditions. A safe and hygienic working environment shall be provided, and occupational health and safety practices shall be promoted. This includes protection from fire, accidents, and toxic substances. Lighting, heating and ventilation systems should be adequate. Employees should have access at all times to sanitary facilities, which should be adequate and clean. The factory must have safety and health policies that are clearly communicated to the workers. These should apply to employee residential facilities, where provided by employers.

V. Environmental Requirements
Vendors must comply with all applicable environmental laws and regulations including, but not limited to, those related to water discharges and air emissions. Vendors must have a current environmental system or plan that includes procedures for handling environmental emergencies. Hazardous wastes must be properly contained, stored and only disposed of at approved facilities. Trained environmental personnel shall be assigned to manage the areas of air and water emissions and waste management. In addition, vendors should aim for progressive improvement in their environmental performance, not only in their own operations, but also in their operations with partners, suppliers and subcontractors. This includes adoption of cleaner production and pollution prevention measures.

VI. Documentation & Monitoring
The vendor maintains all documentation needed to demonstrate compliance with this Vendor Code of Conduct, agrees to make these documents available for Black Diamond or its designated monitor, and agrees to submit to inspections with or without prior notice.

43 Comments

43 Responses to “Black Diamond’s Vendor Code of Conduct”


  1. 1 jon Jan 26th, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Steve – thank you for providing this information. After all the ranting & speculation by others, it is nice to read the “facts”. Keep up the good work – this blog is not only FUN, but informative!

  2. 2 Ryan Jan 26th, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Nice work Steve and kudos to BD for the transperancy. It’s always nice when companies get an opportunity to showcase when they’re well ahead of the curve, particularly in things besides the actual product. Sometimes we get hung up on the gear and forget that a lot goes into the process.

    I would venture to guess that the average consumer is fairly unaware of all the outdoor industry does to ensure fair labor standards and BD is certainly a leader in this category, just all their product categories.

    Now send some of your cold to the PNW. We have freezing levels possibly up to 11K tomorrow. We’re melting over here!

  3. 3 ianh Jan 26th, 2011 at 9:14 am

    nice steve…good stuff!!!

  4. 4 ty Jan 26th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    nice, these practices seem reasonable and should be a model for other companies…

  5. 5 gringo Jan 26th, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Nice.

    In my experience thats pretty much par for the course for the higher end brands.
    working a production line is for sure lame, but thats not the point, the place looks clean and safe.
    Exactly what the naysayers need to see.

  6. 6 'merican Jan 26th, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Bring those jobs back to the states.
    Outsourcing jobs to China is not something to be proud of.
    Black Diamond Equipment you should be ashamed to call yourself an american corporation.
    You are fueled by greed. You spend too much on marketing and advertising.
    At one point your product sold because it was the best you could buy. Made by climbers for climbers.
    Now it is bought because the sheeple are brainwashed by your marketeers.
    If your company actually cared about the climbing community that created your company, and the creative/intelligent design process, why don’t you purchase CCH’s patent on the Alien cam and start re-producing it.
    Rather than worry about how much your paychecks are, why don’t you worry about whose paychecks your taking away?

  7. 7 Starky Jan 26th, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Thanks for the great info Steve.

  8. 8 Derek Jan 26th, 2011 at 11:36 am

    @ ‘merican (Rather than worry about how much your paychecks are) May be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Everyone is worried about what their paycheck is, that’s what being in business is all about you have to make money to survive. While I think Jobs in America are the best sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.

  9. 9 Steve Barratt Jan 26th, 2011 at 11:44 am

    “Employees shall be fully compensated for all overtime hours according to local law.”

    Does this mean that local law could not require pay for mandatory overtime, and that if that were the case, you would not pay it?

  10. 10 Christian Jan 26th, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    To those that complain about outsourcing from the US: wages for industrial workers are much lower in the US than in Europe. Should Europeans complain about the outsourcing to the US? That said I am not convinced that outsourcing is the best strategy for knowledge insensitive products. It might also be worth remembering that the focus on cheap labour was one of the things that kept the US south back compared to the more expensive north…

  11. 11 Christian Jan 26th, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Correction: knowledge insensitive => knowledge intensive

  12. 12 Jim Jan 26th, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Can all the little bitches now please leave the building !!?? So we can get back to Ski talk ?

    Thanks for setting the record straight Steve , now about those ugly boards again :+}……..

  13. 13 'merican Jan 26th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    @ Derek worrying about how to best line your pockets rather than how to best advance climbing and skiing technologies is why Black Diamond is no longer the industry standard in cams or skis.

    The only reason you need more money is because you have been brainwashed to have to spend more money.

    It is these kind of corporate strategies that have led the US into the economic plight we are currently in.

    Advancement/Evolution does not equal growth/expansion.

    @Jim I will not leave the building. This article is still open for comment and comment I’ll shall. My two cents will be heard (er umm well read). Leave the name calling at the playground. Learn to speak about something other than what you do. Learn to care about more than just the size of you bank account, house, car, ect…

  14. 14 randosteve Jan 26th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I don’t think BD was ever the industry standard for skis (though I think they strive to be…especially with the 2011 line-up)…but I do think they were (and still are) the industry standard for cams.

  15. 15 Jim Jan 26th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    :+} …….. Thanks – Point made !

  16. 16 'merican Jan 26th, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    BD’s tele ski’s were always comparable…but what about the terminator boots? pretty much an industry standard when every leg hanging off the lifts at alta have a pair on them.
    As far as camalots go, Aliens are far superior in almost every way IMO. Except strength.
    Why are C4′s so Alien like? hmmm…
    Regardless, I can tell you are paid/sponsored by BD. Go ahead and speak their marketing diatribe, cash the check they give you and pretend that the company you defend isn’t making the world a touch worse. Act like it’s ok because everyone else does it.
    Tell me this, anyone, how did moving a large portion of BD’s manufacturing to China improve the equipment?
    It is not cheaper.
    It has not set any recent precedent in gear advancement.
    All it did was make the upper echelon in BD corporate a lot of money.
    You really think that the move to China was a good thing for the American climbing industry?
    @Christian…spot on comment.

  17. 17 Ryan Jan 26th, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    ‘merican
    With a name like that I’m not sure if you’re playing devil’s advocate, are a troll, a dumbass or just so focused on your point of view that anything outside of that is wrong and unacceptable.

    ‘merican said: “Tell me this, anyone, how did moving a large portion of BD’s manufacturing to China improve the equipment?
    It is not cheaper.”

    While I have both Aliens and BD cams on my rack, I place 100% confidence in BD products, but not on CCH. Quality control costs money. Sometimes saving some movey in one area and spending it in another equals a better product at the same price. There are so many factors that go into final pricing that to say that Chinese labor hasn’t kept pricing down is ignorant of the process. Unless you’re Peter Metcalf having fun on your lunch break my guess is you have no idea what went into final pricing decisions on BD gear.

    You also make it sound like the only reason to produce in China is cost. This also shows your ignorance. In many cases, production quality in Asia is significantly better than it is in the US. The workers work harder and are more likely to stay at the job for longer, thus resulting in a more experienced workforce and an improved product. The supply chain is also such that the machines and materials for production and the infrastructure to distribute the finished product is better in Asia. To say that corporate greed is the only reason to produce in Asia is wrong.

    Oh and my guess is BD wouldn’t be doing any favors to the outdoor enthusiasts if they were out of business, which in today’s climate is entirely possible, even to a company like BD that to us seems quite large. The reality is they are tiny and have to plan very carefully. This means making sacrifices and focusing their innovation. This also means finding ways to save money which might mean producing the same quality of product in Asia rather than SLC.

    To complain about jobs going overseas is not patriotic and it’s certainly not Republican (I’m assuming a bit here. Apologies if I’m wrong). You’re asking for your government and corporations to demand less from Americans than they do from outside the States. You’re wanting a handout, you’re not willing to earn it. If America wants to compete in these industries from a production standpoint we need to find ways to be a relevant and be a good choice, not expect corporations and our government to settle for less.

  18. 18 Omr Jan 26th, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I love my kilowatts, justices and my old arc angels and don’t care if they’re built by 5-yr-old chinese girls. Seriously, those getting bent are just as much the problem. Face it, capitalism will find a way to shave every last red-cent from the equation. If you don’t like jobs going to Chinese, stop consuming and go live in a hut.

  19. 19 climbupskidown Jan 26th, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Omr…

    stop consuming and live in a hut? Sick!

  20. 20 J freeze Jan 26th, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    If asian labor is necessary to provide a quality product at a low price, then how come I can buy a pair of locally made skiis for the same price as the 2011 bd’s?

    I am impressed by bd’s attempt to control conditions of it’s labor force, but until there is an independant multinational auditing body that moniters labor standards, I just can’t take black diamond’s word for it. I’m sure their intentions are good, but are there independant inspectors popping up in the plant unannounced to moniter these standards? I think not.

    I realize we are all somewhat hypocritical as many of us take advantage of goods or byproducts of chinese goods. However, I think this conversation is necessary in order to acheive the ultimate goal of a fair global marketplace where all people are treated with respect. I hope that this conversation will further entice the outdoor industry to focus on human rights both stateside and abroad.

    Thanks Steve for hosting a debate that delves beneath the breakable crust of our otherwise carefree outdoor pursuits.

  21. 21 gringo Jan 27th, 2011 at 12:49 am

    ‘merican uses ‘Terminator’ boots as an example of what the made in USA BD heyday was like.
    Too bad he is ignorant to the fact they were made by SCARPA… in Italy and imported by BD.

    Typical internet BS…people comment without knowing half the story.

  22. 22 alex Jan 27th, 2011 at 6:53 am

    I don’t think that manufacturing in china is anything to be celebrated. For anyone who is supposedly concerned about the use of fossil fuels and man made climate change, shipping anything across the pacific ocean is extremely wasteful and just means more petroleum being put into the atmosphere. Not to mention the wastefulness of company executives flying back and forth in jets across the pacific. Buying chinese is the antithesis of “buy local”. This is a great example of why I have given up on the environmental movement. So called environmentalists freak out about oil drilling or snowmobiling here in the US, but they turn a blind eye to the impacts of their own actions. It is great to see that the treatment of workers overseas is improving, but US companies should stop making excuses and start manufacturing here in the good old US of A. Outsourcing of jobs is why our economy sucks.

  23. 23 Wu Jan 27th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    First, I think that it is commendable that BD will show its facilities, employees, and standards to the public. Transparency regarding their business practices in China can help to create a norm of openness among companies that operate there. I am happy to see that they are in fact trying to set a high standard which they are asking others to meet.

    The working conditions and employee treatment that I have read about China are very different than what I see in the BD written standards….and the photos. Kudos to BD for responding to concerns posted by people here and elsewhere. And thanks Steve for using your space to go there.

    Second, While the written standards are nice, they allow for plenty of wiggle room for more problems. The environmental standard for example must meet local law. We all know how committed China is to its environment…seems like a low standard. BD could seek to set a higher standard for emissions and toxics used in the production process….especially with all that money they are saving by moving to China where there are lax emissions rules, if any?

    Third, I agree that we should not celebrate the fact that goods are produced in China. I see a very complex mess of government policy, competition, and desire to increase profits as some of many factors driving companies to China. It’s a serious downward fuckin spiral and I don’t really see the end game.

    I still don’t like it, but I want to give some credit to BD for trying to do the right thing in that working environment there.

    JFreeze is right that great skis are produced here and can be purchased for reasonable prices. Thanks for adding to the discussion some good substance regarding those that produce skis here providing jobs for people (skiers) here. I’ll add Icelantic to the companies that produce there skis here.

    I hope that JoshA was not deleted by Steve. This seems like the sort of tactic that the Chinese government would use on its detractors or those who disagree. Are you there JoshA? Note: Steve did pretty much call you a liar regarding the Mongolian boltfest and I think that you deserve to be a bit sharp in your debate.

  24. 24 'merican Jan 27th, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I will be there first to admit I really don’t know much about the global market and global manufacturing trends.
    I am climber/ski bum at heart, not a marketeer.
    I don’t study market trends and learn how to manipulate citizens into consuming.
    In my opinion by moving a large portion of their manufacturing to China, to me, it sends a clear message of FUCK YOU to the Dalai Lama.
    If you buy BD you are saying “Fuck you Dalai Lama, China is right you are dangerous”.
    I forgot that my T1′s were made in Italy. Just like I forget that this mornings latte came in a cup made out of a tree. Or maybe more like how I forgot that despite my best efforts, I mostly eat corn.
    Anyone who thinks BD’s move to China was a good one, probably would agree that being sold to the Clarus Corp. was a good move too.
    One thing I didn’t forget is that Clarus is a shell corporation owned by Warren B. Kanders, the former head of Armor Holdings. Armor Holdings was the company responsible for manufacturing defective body armor for the military.
    And now he is overseeing the making your cams, and that’s ok with you?
    How about one of you big shot marketeers/brainwashers step up and say something about shell companies? About how they have impeccable scruples and would never try to cut corners or fraud it’s costumers/employees.

    Now about my complaining not being patriotic…how is speaking my mind not patriotic?
    I have an opinion that US companies manufacturing their products in foreign countries is bad for the US. Just like a French company manufacturing its products in Clearfield is bad for France.
    Oh and assuming just makes an ASS out of U and ME.
    I am not a repulicrat or dematard. I lean left on some issues and right on others.
    I could assume that you work in a cubicle/office/or some other form of box and spend about half of your work day “networking” and the other half thinking of how to fuck over your neighbor. You’ve skied the gnar gnar pow at Alta with the BD croonies you met at O.R. and they slipped you some free swag. Geee, they sure got pretty smiles don’t they.
    But I regress, I am sorry. But I did say that assumptions just bring out the ASS.

    China plus Clarus Corp equals my money goes somewhere else.

    Also you claim that China’s workforce is somehow superior to that in the US, I want to see some data to support that.
    I would also like to see a wage comparison between the US BD employees and the Chinese BD employees.
    I wonder who has the higher average wage?
    Could that have had any influence in the decision n the China move?
    The average wage in Zhuhai, China is just over $140/month. And this is after the Chinese Government told local officials to raise the minimum wage.
    I know that even the warehouse kids in SLC get more than quadruple that.

    With all this said, if someone could prove to me that this move will create better climbing and skiing equipment, that it will make BD gear more affordable and that it will not encourage other corporations to follow their lead, I may actually buy BD again.

    Anyone in the know care to shed some light on actual production cost differences?

    @omr…i do live in a hut type structure, it is called a house. if you ever move out of your condo i recommend checking one out. i grow and raise as much of my own food as i can. i buy local whenever possible, despite the cost. i listen to my conscience and remember that it is not WHAT WE DO BUT HOW WE DO IT that makes all the difference in the end.

    BD isn’t doing it right, IMHO.

  25. 25 Andy Jan 27th, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Only a tiny portion of the American public will pay even $0.10 more for something just because it’s made in the U.S. People vote with their wallets, and they’ve voted overwhelmingly for price.

  26. 26 Chris Jan 27th, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Lots of faulty logic and mixed arguments here. This is a complex issue influenced by nations’ histories, trade agreements, nations’ demographics, etc. To act like this is a simply right or wrong is silly.

    Regarding energy/being “green” – fuel is expensive, and manufacturers are very good at minimizing fuel use as much as possible. While container ships use a lot of fuel, they benefit from huge efficiencies of scale. I suspect that the Semi trucks that take these products from port to retailers consume much more fuel per product. However, buying chinese products does tend to just shift pollution from our country to china’s coal power plants. The greenest thing to do is probably use all your gear as long as possible.

    These jobs are a sought after in china, and while the pay is low compared to the US, it is often big money in china, and allows one family member to support a whole rural family. How many american’s really want these jobs? How many unemployed american’s have degrees that make them too overqualified?

    There is no intrinsic reason chinese made products are less safe or lower performance than american ones – that depends on QA policies. That BD highlights their practices shows that consumers do care to a degree about the working conditions and how things get made. If you don’t like it, buy american.

  27. 27 'merican Jan 27th, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Faulty logic?
    A + B = C
    A = any company I support
    B = questionable ethics/business practices
    C = I take my business elsewhere

    The issue is black and white. All issues are black and white, yin and yang, good and bad. Color and shades of grey are added by people trying to justify their actions. (Christ, GWB and Cheney justified torturing people)
    All you ad men out there try to color it to fit the world view that best suits who ever is writing your checks. Do the paychecks justify the guilt, I hope you feel at the end of each day, of coercing people to purchase things they don’t need?

    You either turn a blind eye to a person/corporation’s ethics or you stand up for what you feel is ethically wrong.

    Anyone could make cams given the right resources, what set camalots apart from the rest was how they were made and who made them.
    Now it seems that the company that is successful is not the one with the most innovative designs but the company who is better marketed.

    The greenest thing to do…reduce, reuse and recycle. Not move your manufacturing plants to a country with some of the laxest, mostly non-existant, environmental policies in the world.
    The next step you can take on your path to Greendom is to boycot companies that do not attempt to utilize green energy.

    I will say that BD’s quality control definitely set the bar for all other climbing/skiing manufactures.

    About the unemployed, why is everyone who has a job convinced that they know what mr. unemployed would do? Most people I know would work at mcdonalds if they could get hired.
    My aunt, laid off for almost 2 years now, can’t find a job because…she is too old.
    My cousin laid off about a year ago, can’t find a job because…she is too young.
    My sister can’t find a job because there are around 500 applicants for every job opening in her area.

    “…low compared to the US, it is often big money in china”…i damn near fell off my chair when i read this.

    $140/month in china compared to 1,799/month here in the states.

    According to one study the average cost of living in china is $400/month and, according to the study, this is to just eek out a bare-bones existence in china.

    The average cost of living in the US is right around $1000.

    This is outsourcing jobs to a foreign country for cheaper labor costs.
    Rule number one in increasing profits is to reduce labor costs. That looks like a 90% reduction in labor cost to me, somebody is sure enjoying their raise right now.

    Answer this BD stooges:
    Show me an itemized breakdown of the production costs of one #1 C4 made in China.
    Then show me the same itemized list of costs of one manufactured here in the states.
    Show how much money you really saved from moving to China?
    That’s transparency.

    Like I said, it is not WHAT you do that matters….it is HOW you do it.

  28. 28 'merican Jan 27th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    “I agree with the president. If we’re going to make America number one again then it is the personal responsibility of every American… to invent something groundbreaking that will then be manufactured by children in Indonesia.” — Stephen Colbert

  29. 29 Chris Jan 27th, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Look ‘merican, I support the logic of “i want to buy american, so I won’t purchase chinese made BD products”.

    I don’t understand the idea that items made in china are necessarily of lower quality or of higher environmental impact (most US electricity comes from coal, and we drive more cars than the chinese do), or that companies are evil for trying to make a profit by reducing production cost – that is capitalism.

    The best proof that it’s cheaper to make a C4 cam cheaper in china is the fact that they now make them in china…

    It is specious to suggest BD is now making huge profits because they reduced their labor costs. More likely they are simply remaining competitive in the market because other manufacturers moved their labor to china, and had lower resulting prices. This isn’t BD’s fault – it’s a huge geopolitical circumstance.

    These jobs do make a difference in China – a whole generation is moving from rural china to the cities to work these jobs and give their families back in rural china a leg up – where $400 a month is a huge difference in standard of living. I believe a worker can earn ~5 times as much in a factory as they can back in their rural village.

    Yes this is marketing, but that doesn’t make it irrelevant, a lie, or dishonest. It was silly to post and give you more to respond to.

  30. 30 Ryan Jan 27th, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Sigh…

    I think the last comment at the end of the post from Chris summed it up. I also think that opinions differ and sometimes what we think of as facts are actually based entirely on our perspective. ‘merican believes what he believes and that’s fine. He can vote with his dollars and we can vote with ours.

    ‘merican my assumption that you leaned to the right was based on a number of factors and clues from your posts. This assumptions doesn’t make me an ass in any way shape or form. Just because a word has a clever saying that goes along with it doesn’t mean you need to bust it our at every opportunity.

    There are plenty of people out there looking for work and yes many of them haven’t found it for many reasons and the easy place to point the finger is overseas production. Unfortunately for your arguement, many corporate jobs are still here because of overseas production. Sure there are less manufacturing jobs for your neighbor Ted, but it could be worse. Ted could have a job working in an assembly plant for a company from overseas, making far less for a product that’s shipped back overseas for consumption. We’re still on the better end of this equation but I fully agree it’s something we need to be aware of and make our buying decisions carefully as a result of.

    There was an interesting study I saw that I’d love to be able to find for you but can’t and don’t care enough about influencing you to look that hard for. It was about how strawberries from South America actually had less of a carbon footprint than those grown locally and sold at farmer’s markets. The local strawberries were loaded and unloaded and driven all over the region, attending local markets. The average strawberry traveled great distances before it’s actual sale and many would rot before sale. The South American strawberries were harvested, processed,shipped and sold via very sophisticated systems involving massive quantities of scale. They knew how many to produce to control price and keep wages stable. The buyer knew how many to buy based on consumer demand. The berries were never passed around to multiple retailers incurring more freight impact and potentail spoilage. They went straight to where the consumer would find them and buy them.

    You’ve also made a few comments about the lax local standards and that BD could just defer to those. Well fortunately for the environment, BD has a very large watchdog in the form of REI that occasionally drops in on them. REI has done very great things in holding their vendors accountable and influencing things for the better in labor practices, materials sourcing, enviromental regualtion and more.

    I know, I know. You want to hate REI and “shop local” but don’t worry. Soon you can shop local because an REI will eventually be in your neighborhood replacing the specialty shop that didn’t innovate and evolve. BD would’ve met this same demise if they didn’t as well.

    Again, vote with your dollars however you choose but recognize that there’s always more to it than meets the eye. I’m not saying you’re completely wrong and I’m sure those of us arguing this side of it aren’t completely right either. Seems like sort of a grey area? Oh wait…

  31. 31 can't afford new skis b/c I have to eat Jan 27th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Wow… it’s not very often you see a ski blog resort to marketing speak for mass corporations. Just how much is Clarus Corp. paying you to post this?

    Since the loss of American jobs and revenue spent on marketing has already been mentioned I thought I’d bring some other things to light.

    For starters there’s the sentence “Wages must equal or exceed the minimum wage or the prevailing industry wage”. A quick google search for “Zhuhai, China minimum wage” shows that the minimum wage for that region is 920 Yuan Per Month. That’s $139/month. The average work week is 44 hours – although in many factories workers typically work 10-11 hours a day. Let’s assume (although it’s a really big assumption) that these workers aren’t being forced to work overtime and they’re putting in only 44 hours a week and bringing home $139 month. That’s $1669 year.

    Now let’s compare that $1668 dollars to the gear that Steve’s skiing. New BD Justices ($700), New Dynafit TLT5 ($100). Throw in a whippet, skins, beacon and pack and the price climbs up another $600. That’s a total of $2300 in gear.

    If a Chinese worker at Black Diamonds factory was going to pay retail for a new ski set up he or she would have to work for 16 months (assuming they don’t have to buy anything like food, clothing or shelter) to afford this gear.

    As for the references to “Freedom of Association”, “Health & Safety”, “Environmental Requirements” etc. etc. – all one has to do is read the papers to see that codes like this are nothing more than sedatives so people peddling these wares can sleep a little better at night. Educate yourself by searching for “Zhuhai China labor unrest”. If the right to assemble and safety conditions were as good as Clarus Corp claims then you wouldn’t be seeing massive unrest and strikes throughout the province. To pretend that Black Diamond is different than Honda or Walmart or Apple is ridiculous. They are all multi-national corporations where the bottom line is profit. Black Diamond is no different.

    For those of you defending the practice of shipping jobs overseas I hope you’re taking cooking classes – because if we keep allowing companies like BDEL to ship manufacturing overseas we’re all going to be working service jobs in the next 20 years.

    That is unless you’re able to swallow your pride and work in the marketing department where you can draft BS marketing speak like the drivel above.

  32. 32 stackemtight Jan 27th, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Folks,
    Finally, some interesting thoughts and passion for ones ideals on this site. Passion is what stimulates the sole and drives us to explore and find answers the next day. All, I have enjoyed the reading and the thought processes….
    To be honest I am now i SLC and have been for some time. Several of my cohorts in life are in the upper echelons of BD….I won’t go there. I will take this “diatribe” to them over a beer, etc…and learn what I can then chew-the-cud and extrapolate what I think from what is presented. Thanks for the stimuli! I will be back….

  33. 33 OMR Jan 27th, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I must be the only one here who works for a living. I bc ski to escape the world and this debate just seems like another day in the cubicle farm. Ski more, think less!

  34. 34 Brian Hessling Jan 28th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    The ‘merican is right. Cranky, but right. At some point B.D. made a choice to “go big”. They made their goals, to compete on a larger scale, and have done what they need to do to meet those goals. Skiers have choices to work with smaller scale mfrs. (Colorado has a few) and ideally find what they want/need. Someone mentioned most folks choosing price first. While I don’t think that applies to gearheads too much, it is the prevailing stink with a lot of other stuff. Mindful, ethical, living is a full time gig and most folks don’t have the stamina for it.

  35. 35 J freeze Jan 30th, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Haven’t checked this in a few days, glad to see the debate rages, Merican-right fuckin on…we should ski sometime. Interesting background info concerning Clarus corp. I’m sure this will raise some eyebrows at bd. As for voting with my hard earned cash, I already have and I’m on my fifth 100 day year on some igneous skiis, which I helped glue. My old fritchis are made in Switzerland. You get what you pay for and my most recent bd purchase, a headlamp, broke within days. Oh and ryan, you should try some teton valley strawberries sometime, they may not be brazilian factory farmed genetically spliced with herring, but they’re better than a mouthful of pow and I doubt eating a strawberry from a plant at a local farm has much of a carbon footprint.

  36. 36 X-Reed Jan 30th, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    How do next year’s carbon flex Justices compare to the older generation? Does the progressive tip really make a difference?

  37. 37 randosteve Jan 30th, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    X-reed…there is mostly just a weight difference. Next year’s carbon justice might be a little softer laterly…but stiffer torsionally. You have megawatts….so i think you know the benefits of an early rise tip.

  38. 38 Matthew Traver Jan 31st, 2011 at 2:00 am

    I think it’s great to see a level of transparency being shown by BD. As was stated, they primarily were seeking to reduce costs by moving to China, however I am sure there were other logical reasons for the move apart for financial reasons such as increased production capacity and access to more skilled labour (that is NOT to say the U.S. is lacking in skill, but that it is more readily available and easier to access in China).

    I can see why people view this as taking away labour from the country of origin, however I also see this as a natural cycle that many businesses must (and choose) to go through in order to remain competitive in the market. I think BD and other similar companies are value-creators in other aspects of a local economy (including the U.S.) and that value does not have to mean generating money. An example of this would be BD inspiring a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs in the U.S. to one day lead the way and who knows, maybe they will become responsible for developing a model of more sustainable, localised manufacturing that many readers on here hope for. Also, I’m sure BD has been responsible for inspiring its Chinese work force to engage in outdoor sports, giving other people around the world, who otherwise may not have had the chance, to enjoy the passion that we have also had the privilege to have in the West.

  39. 39 Ryan Jan 31st, 2011 at 9:57 am

    J freeze
    I’m sure Teton strawberries are to die for. I’m not saying factory farmed strawberries from Chile are better. I’m not saying they’re worse. I’m not saying that BD skis are the greatest and that the locally made brands are rubbish. There’s a place in the market for players at many different levels of distribution. There’s big companies and little guys. Ultimately as long as people are getting outside, having fun, being safe and not damaging others experiences then I don’t care.

    I do fully agree that we have to take into consideration where our toys are produced and influence brands to do right by the workers, environment and the marketplace. BD is 100% doing this. How much has a brand like Igneous contributed to Avalanche groups in dollars and product? How about the American Alpine Institute? How about climbing and skiing grants? How about the Access Fund? I’m not saying the folks at Igneous are douche-bags for not matching what BD can do in that arena, but BD should be commended for being “one of the good guys” at their level, not blamed for the demise of all that’s pure and Holy in outdoor recreation.

    Get off your high horse because it’s hooves are f-ing up the skintrack.

  40. 40 can't afford new skis b/c I have to eat Jan 31st, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    @ Matthew: you write “logical reasons for the move apart for financial reasons such as such as increased production capacity and access to more skilled labour”
    The idea that skilled labor isn’t readily available in the US is bogus. For decades the US had a huge labor force of skilled laborers – they haven’t just disappeared. The number one reason manufactures move overseas is to reduce labor costs. Chinese workers are paid less than $200 a month – American workers – even if they work at minimum wage ($7.25) would make more in a week than BD has to pay Chinese workers.

    You applaud transparency yet you fail to see that the corporate move to reduce labor costs and increase marketing is destroying the middle class in America and causing other countries to implode (i.e. Tunisia).

    As for the idea of Chinese BD employees enjoying the passion of outdoor activities… did you miss my post above regarding the price of gear vs what they make in a year?

  41. 41 randosteve Jan 31st, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    i doubt asian bd employees pay full retail for the bd products they buy. hell, if i had to pay full retail, i couldn’t afford all this rad gear on my retail employee paycheck either.

  42. 42 Josh Feb 3rd, 2011 at 4:35 am

    (Josh A. BTW) DAMN Steve! solid work and thanks on coming through with some good info, same goes to BD for their efforts they’ve put into this. (and no, Steve hasn’t deleted any of my comments)

    Hoping I don’t get nailed for being negative here, because BD has gone much further than most to improve conditions. I wouldn’t say it’s without room for significant improvement though.

    1)Words are nice, but the language is pretty soft and fluffy in important spots “Black Diamond will seek business partners that share this value”

    2)Hard numbers, in international dollar equivalents (adjusted for cost of living), pegged near US/Euro fair wage standards need to be given instead of “Wages must equal or exceed the minimum wage or the prevailing industry wage, whichever is higher”

    3)Environmental regulations in China aren’t much of a standard to hold up to… A third party audit to the ISO 14001 standard (which I know little about) would be a lot stronger statement.

    These things should all be shown by third party audits anyways, because anyone can fill out their own 4.0 report card. (But that doesn’t take away from the steps they’ve taken). Not to mention, where is this info on their website? Seems like it would be a good thing to put up (Unless it would fall apart under scrutiny).

    I do respect and appreciate BD for staying afloat financially (I think), and as far as people bagging on BD quality in asia… meet 3 sigma, the gold standard for climbing gear testing… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_sigma_rule
    BD uses it… http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/about-us/company/quality

    Other companies, namely CCH (Aliens) Do Not, and have a much worse track record. http://www.aliencamsbycch.com/testing.html but I still think their new stuff is trustworthy for what that’s worth.

    @Omr “Face it, capitalism will find a way to shave every last red-cent from the equation. If you don’t like jobs going to Chinese, stop consuming and go live in a hut.” What don’t you get about the fact that we have decided that capitalism is an imperfect system, and we are trying to perfect it by voting with our $$ and voices? (Inbetween working ~68hrs/week + school BTW)

    Judging by a coolant pump I purchased yesterday, I’d say I’m willing to spend ~33% more for goods Made In USA. I know I’m not the only one. Why does a discussion about ethics always put someone on a high horse anyways? Can’t we have a rational, productive discussion?

    The funny thing about all these well meaning “it’s good for the Asians” supporters is that they are right, BUT, by buying their goods with no social/enviro regulations, we are sucking them down the same road we’ve gone down… Industrialization, Metropolitan Buildup, Environmental Disaster. And here we are, 200 yrs later, trying to relocalize, rebuild, and grow our small communities. Yes it will eventually raise their “quality of life” but not until after they wreak havoc on their land and people. (Hopefully they can develop strong(er) unions quickly). I don’t claim to have all the answers, but localized production would seem a smart move socially & environmentally.

    Thanks again Steve! (and BD/Clarus Corp, hopefully they will listen to our voices, send them these comments!!!)

  43. 43 Sam Feb 16th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    As an expat living in China – some of these comments make me laugh so hard…

    “…keep manufacturing jobs in ‘merica!…” Do you know how funny that sounds to someone from a country like Australia (me) where virtually no outdoor gear is manufactured! oh, snap, our dollar just got parity with America’s, snap, our minimum wage is like $18/hour – i.e. the fact that the Aussie economy has done ok recently has *nothing* to do with whether we have manufacturing inland or not….

    Think for a moment what a Chinese person’s perspective of this debate might be?
    1. “…the money being paid by factories like BD is good money”
    2. “…from the looks of the photos – I’d rather a job at BD, than some other random factory”
    3. “…American/Western wages & lifestyles are too indulgent, lazy & wasteful”
    4. “..it’s great to have a quality climbing company making goods in China.”

    1 & 2 are basically what Chinese person who would consider working in a factory would feel (i.e. their education & backgrond preclude them from white collar opportunities),
    3. is felt by pretty much all Chinese to a lesser or greater degree. They may be wrong in feeling/thinking this way, but that’s the reality…
    4. is what any Chinese climber would feel about the BD factory, proud of BD & proud that an American company would go to the effort of creating a high quality factory on their shores…

    “dirty energy”, “carbon footprint”, “think of the children” cliches…
    Critism’s of China’s *current state* of energy production are valid – but don’t get too cosy – they won’t last for long. They’re going to start leading the way with clean energy solutions soon, *unless*, western country’s accelerate wind & solar, alt-fuel transport &, horror of horror’s – sort out the nuclear issue…
    http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/02/01/047232/China-Starts-Molten-Salt-Nuclear-Reactor-Project#comments

    “…I’ve calculated the wage comparison, they’re still too low…”
    Information: it’s typical that chinese jobs include accomodation, meals (sometimes, all 3), health care (of sorts) as part of the employment aggreement. I don’t think this would be factored into any pay calculations because its *that* standard – just as coffee machines, carparks & breakrooms are standard in most western companies. It’s the norm, its what most Chinese expect from their employers. Its value-added & that may not mean much to a foreigner but is standard for factory employment in China

    Human rights concerns…
    I wouldn’t think the Dalai Lama has a problem with BD doing business in China. Or maybe we could just wall China off, close our eyes & go back to “the good ol’ days”, whatever they were. Sorry, normal Chinese people want a piece of the modern world, time to share the plenty.

    “…China is nasty/China=Bad/Let’s bash China/China is our enemy…”
    Not specifically in the posts, but its a sentiment (racism) that often lurks behind discussions of this type (& it’s answer serves a purpose)
    A: The millions of Chinese that idolise the American way of life *’thank’* you for stereotyping them with a cliche that’s about 40 years outdated…

    Sorry, long post – but I froth at the blinkered approach to China that is totally skewed… the reality of the situation is *extremely unsexy* – China is a *developing* country, meaning that they’re ‘on the way’, but not ‘completely there yet’… yes – rail against abuses, yes – engage debate over issues, but don’t for a minute think that their faults discount them from being allowed to do business internationally (people in glass houses, throwing stones, something like that…)

    I personally support BD for their move to China, they’ve been deliberate, ethical & wholistic, it’s no small thing what they’ve done, bravo
    – wake up nay-sayers, you’ve had it too good, for too long… (& guess what, for you, your 1st world lifestyle isn’t going to change much. Rather, with this trend, a few million people in the developing world will enjoy a better quality of life & climbing/skiing will find an even larger, global audience)

    apologies for coming on strong, happy to clarify any point,
    sam

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