How we do business, and why
When we started The Original Bug Shirt Company in 1991, as a response to the heavy infestations of biting flies and mosquitoes which plague our remote home in northeastern Ontario, we had very little business experience. As a result, much of our ‘business plan’ was based on our personal beliefs on how a business should be run as a part of a local and eventually a larger community, rather than on how best to “make money”.
Our ‘plan’, and our company were built on the following beliefs: our products should be durable enough to last through hard and/or continuous use; our products should be effective as advertised without using potentially toxic repellents; there can be no compromise in quality or effectiveness (our products may not be the cheapest but they will be the best and most effective on the market); we will manufacture locally in Canada; we will ship orders quickly; we will treat our customers fairly; and will personally respond to any customer concerns as quickly as possible.
The world has changed a lot since 1991. Business, thanks in large part to advances in telecommunication and connectivity, has become globalized. Globalization and the various trade agreements that make globalization possible have also led to serious social and environmental problems. As companies rushed to move manufacturing to Asia and other parts of the Third World they neglected or ignored the working conditions of the people responsible for making their products. As we now know some of the most recognizable names in consumer products have contracted their manufacturing to companies that underpaid and mistreated the workers as well as ignoring any environmental issues associated with both the manufacturing processes and the delivery of the finished goods to the consumer. All to maximize profit. And with little or no benefit to anything other than ‘the bottom line’.
Why should any of this matter to you, a potential customer? On the community level, you can be assured that we use a local contractor who employs 4-7 skilled sewers and pays a fair and competitive wage. This means more money is circulating locally improving our community by ‘spreading the wealth’. Because all of the materials we use are made in either Canada or the US (except our cotton which comes from China as does most of the world’s supply) the immense fuel consumption and the environmental effects involved in shipping either by air or sea are minimized. While we have no problem with companies manufacturing overseas we feel all workers, wherever they are, should be paid commensurate with their skill. At the very least workers should be able to bring home enough to cover the basic needs of themselves and their families. We also feel that companies from the developed world should be ethical enough to insist that their subcontractors in the developing world provide adequate wage, health, and safety standards in the workplace.
We intend to continue on with the ‘plan’. Although in the last 26 years it has not made us rich financially, it has given us immense satisfaction knowing that our many, many customers have reinforced our belief that the ‘plan’ was a good ‘plan’, by the many supportive letters (remember letters?), emails, and photos sent to us over the years.