2014 Trade Mission to Haiti

On Jan 28-31, AAPN took a delegation to visit apparel operations in Haiti. AAPN members included American & Efird; Academy Sports & Outdoors; Crowley Logistics; Customs & Trade Services; Cotton Council Int’l; Haggar; OSP Group; Protexsa; QST; and VF Americas Sourcing. As a guest, Highland Apparel of Honduras attended.

This complex trip was organized by AAPN member Gina Coles of Haiti’s Centre for Facilitation of Investments (CFI). I believe we made 9 factory stops with highlights on our two members there, Palm Apparel and Industrial Revolution II (IRII).

The group visited one of Alain Villard’s factories. Alain is a long time member of the AAPN in Haiti. Many of you may remember Alain being featured in the US press following the earthquake when he lost a large number of workers. He has rebuilt not just his own operation but other factories being leased to other operations. We visited one of these new sites that has been operating since Sep 2013. Alain also rebuilt his family hotel, the Hotel Villa Therese, where we all stayed for three nights. It is an amazing property.

Another fantastic experience was being given a personal tour of IRII by CEO Rob Broggi. For those who want highly embellished quality shirts in very small batches using the very latest digital printing technology, Rob is your contact. Seldom have we walked into a factory where, from first glance, it was clear the operation was FAR beyond just compliant. To learn more, we posted a current article about Rob on our home page. The link to it is http://pando.com/2014/02/03/why-i-invest-in-ethical-fashion/

One very special tour was of the port, arranged by Don Hire of Crowley Logistics. We had an overview of the master rebuilding plan and time table. In fact, at each stop, we got the same treatment – an overview, as much Q&A as we wished and a tour.

Typical of the comment was one from Tony Anzovino, VP of Sourcing for Haggar, who wrote, “Thanks for organizing the trip.  Could not have done that by myself in two days.”

Another executive wrote, “Always a pleasure to spend some time with both of you - and to be able to get a Haitian education at the same time - this trip could not be beat! I came back with some serious fresh eyes on the industry, and the meaning that Haiti can have to it. It actually energized me to be in Haiti, so thank you.”

We have taken delegations throughout the Americas, to Hong Kong, to Sri Lanka, to Europe but in this my 20th year here at AAPN, this was one of the best ever. In addition to the hand-holding by Gina and her team, we had fabulous chemistry among our membership, built over many meetings and reinforced to a personal level on this trip.

AAPN is extremely grateful to Crowley Logistics as well as Avery Dennison for sponsoring two amazing dinners.