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Team E wants to first thank the Board of Directors for giving us the wide range of authority to institute whatever strategic actions and operating changes we decided were appropriateEight years ago my colleagues and I were given the responsibility to take charge of Ethical Wares rapidly expanding athletic footwear business Through our actions we were expected to make the company a leader in the athletic footwear industry and build shareholder value via both higher dividends and a rising stock price Team Es plan was to develop this company into a global leader in the athletic footwear industry by using Ethical Wares most important strength Cost Leadership Cost leadership through low product differentiation Cost leadership through manufacturing and materials managementOur team began our process by considering the emerging markets in Europe and Asia We knew that the key to producing a high quality product at a low cost was low cost labor We also realized that our North American plant in Ohio was not allowing us to pursue our low cost strategy because of its incredibly high labor rate After careful financial assessment we came to the decision of shutting down our Ohio plant and began building a small plant in AsiaWe believed that the excessive finances needed to build a new plant outweighed the one time extraordinary loss of the shutdownThe cost benefits of the plant in Asia were felt almost immediately Our labor costs were reduced tremendously when compared to what we were paying in Ohio This plant helped us move closer to our cost efficient strategy but now that our teams tenure is over we realize that we underestimated the annual growth in all three major geographic markets for pairs demanded What we would do if we could do it all over is we would have built a larger plant in Asia instead of a small one We understand now that we were strapped in the amount of shoes we
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