Announcing the 2007 winners of the BMJ-sponsored Golden Leaf Awards
TR Staff Report
Tobacco Reporter is proud to announce the winners of the second Global Leaf Awards competition. The winners are ILTD, the Uncommitted Tobacco Auction, GCH, Colin Mear Engineering and Andromeda Forwarding. Sponsored exclusively by Indonesian paper manufacturer BMJ, the Golden Leaf Awards were created to recognize professional excellence and dedication in the tobacco industry.
We’ve granted awards in five traditional categories—most impressive public service initiative, most promising new product introduction, most exciting newcomer to the industry, most outstanding service to the industry and the BMJ Most Committed to Quality Award. For the first time, we also handed out a people’s choice award.
The judge panel included Rick Lewis, whose company, Winter, Bell, won the BMJ Most Committed to Quality Award in 2006.
The awards were presented on Nov. 27 during TABEXPO 2007 in Paris, in Les Cariatides restaurant. In addition to a commemorative trophy, the winners received $1,000 for donation to a charity of their choice.
This is the second year of the contest. The first ceremony took place last year in Bali Indonesia. The next Golden Leaf Awards will be presented during TABINFO Sâo Paulo in October 2008. Entries can be submitted starting in March 2008.
Following is a series of short descriptions of the companies and their winning entries.
ITC’s Leaf Tobacco Division (ILTD) won two Golden Leaf Awards in this year’s contest, a first in the short history of the competition. The Indian company was recognized in the “Most impressive service initiative” and “Most committed to quality” categories.
The judges were particularly impressed by ILTD’s international quality rating system (IQRS). IQRS is a business excellence model designed to steer organizations to grow their maturity levels in total quality management. It has 10 levels, with No. 3 being equivalent to ISO 9000. ILTD has achieved level 7.
IQRS covers all aspects of business, including management controls, primary processes, and feed-forward and feedback loops. Management controls comprise areas such as leadership and strategy, employee involvement and communication and management systems and documentations. Primary processes covers marketing and sales, design and development, purchasing and contracting, etc., while feed-forward and feedback loops include monitoring and measurement, quality audits, and stakeholder satisfaction and relationship management.
The system helps ILTD provide its customers with a common approach to quality and related processes. It also enables company managers to find answers to questions through self-assessment and initiation of actions.
In the ultimate analyses, the system translates into operational excellence, people alignment and cost savings across the value chain, leading to improved quality of ILTD’s products and services.
ILTD’s community projects in Chirala, Andhra Pradesh, were recognized as the most impressive public service. Motivated by its “commitment beyond the market,” ILTD has always felt a larger societal purpose on top of its commercial objectives. Even as the company attains new milestones in wealth creation, it remains eager to enlarge its contribution to Indian society.
As a big employer in Chirala, ILTD takes a keen interest in the well-being of its community. Many of its initiatives have targeted women and children, aiming to improve the community’s overall quality of life. This has had powerful incremental benefits contributing to better nutrition, health and education. Helping to build family incomes and assets, women are emerging as a positive force for social change and community enterprise.
ILTD’s initiatives cover 20 villages, with more than 100 micro-credit groups, 1,000 active members and more than 200 female entrepreneurs.
In addition to the Chirala initiative, ILTD is helping India’s rural communities by campaigning against child labor. The company is also investing in water-conservation and harvesting projects.
The Uncommitted Tobacco Auction (UTA) won a Golden Leaf Award in the “Most exciting newcomer” category. Like death and taxes, uncommitted tobacco stocks are hard to avoid. Contracts, political considerations and the whims of nature mean leaf traders sometimes end up with more tobacco than confirmed orders. While uncommitted stocks are nothing new, they are increasingly hard to justify. Operating on thin profit margins, leaf merchants are under pressure to control cost. What’s more, with overall business fundamentals deteriorating, tobacco companies no longer enjoy the easy access of credit they once had.
UTA provides tobacco companies with an additional avenue to sell their stocks. By connecting companies who weren’t trading previously, UTA hopes to fill a gap in the system. The company stresses that it’s not out to change the existing leaf trading system but merely to add to it. The first UTA auction took place in late 2006 at the warehouses of Tabaknatie in Antwerp, Belgium. During its most recent auction, in September, customers viewed more than 20 million kg of tobacco from 17 origins. UTA’s mission is to be accepted as a serious cost-effective facilitator and provide a neutral platform to the trade.
GCH’s fully automated burley harvester won a Golden Leaf Award in the “Most promising new product introduction” category. The machine was developed to eliminate some of the grueling manual tasks that have been a way of life for more than two centuries. The burley harvester can harvest between four and five acres per day and reduces labor requirements by approximately 80 percent—a welcome development in a time when many farmers are facing labor shortages.
The machine cuts, conveys and inverts the leaves, which are then hung down along the stalk to prevent breakage. Because the only mechanical contact occurs near the base of the stalk, the only leaves at risk of detachment are the least valuable ones.
The harvester dispenses and fills portable curing frames, which are offloaded in the field and then moved to a nearby area by tractor. After approximately one week of wilting, the portable frames are covered by waterproof material. The tobacco remains in the covered frames until curing is complete.
In addition to labor savings, the machine eliminates the need for storage and curing barns.
Colin Mear Engineering
Colin Mear Engineering finished first in the “Most outstanding service to the industry” category. In today’s highly regulated tobacco market, creative packaging presents an opportunity to support marketing efforts and boost sales. Changing cigarette pack styles at regular intervals keeps brands relevant and in the forefront of the consumer’s mind but also carries risk. Existing packaging machinery is not always sufficiently flexible to accommodate frequent style changes, creating additional cost and lead times.
CME has structured its business to help its customers develop special pack styles. Using a combination of creative approaches and proven technologies, the company is not tied to one particular solution but has the ability to use whatever is best to meet the customer’s needs. Among other projects, the company’s engineering efforts enabled British American Tobacco to produce its famous wallet pack.
CME is continuously looking for ways to work through its processes more efficiently. By thoroughly analyzing a proposed solution upfront, it can bring ideas and answers into the process early, thereby preventing delays later.
CME believes its technical knowledge, flexible manufacturing capability and willingness to work intimately with customers put it into a league of its own and qualify as “outstanding service.”
Competing for the “Most outstanding service” award, Andromeda Forwarding of Rotterdam, Netherlands, was nominated by so many customers (32) that we decided to create a new category—the people’s choice award. Andromeda won handsomely in that category.
With international trade booming, shipping has become a scarce “commodity,” and Andromeda has clearly created a following among its clients. To service its customers in the tobacco industry even better, the company has recently created a specialized tobacco forwarding department, which sets itself apart through its flexibility and attention to detail. While many shipping companies and air freight companies have grown to the point that they are no longer in a position to provide specialized service when necessary, Andromeda retains its personal touch.
When customers contact Andromeda, they will be connected to their dedicated service representative, who will arrange everything. Andromeda provides a one-stop shop for door-to-door delivery, including warehousing, fumigation, customs formalities and other services, allowing its customers to focus on their core business: tobacco.
Andromeda recently moved to a new building in Rotterdam, close to every major shipping company. The move enables the company to obtain solutions quickly and offer even better service.
Rick Lewis, whose company, Winter, Bell won last year’s BMJ most committed to quality award, was one of the judges this year. Commitment to quality starts and ends with people, according to Winter, Bell, which is based in North Carolina, USA. And it’s not a mindset that you can turn on and off; Winter, Bell encourages its employees to think quality day and night. “We don’t ship product out of the door unless we are positive it is what customers ordered in all respects,” a company representative said during last year’s awards ceremonies.