21 December 2023

Stephen Sothmann confirms he is stepping down

The President of the Leather and Hide Council of America (LHCA), Stephen Sothmann, has confirmed that he will leave the role on December 22. Report by Leatherbiz.

He will stay in Washington DC and move to another position in government relations, continuing to specialise in trade and agriculture. “I am excited knowing that I have the opportunity to continue to work with the industry in my new capacity,” he said, “so this isn’t necessarily goodbye but rather, see you down the road.”

Stephen Sothmann became Vice-President of the former US Hide, Skins and Leather Association (USHSLA) in 2012, taking over as president in 2013. He was pivotal in driving the merger between USHSLA and the Leather Industries of America (LIA) in 2020. It was this that resulted in the setting up of LHCA, with Mr Sothmann as its first President.

As part of his contribution to wider efforts to lift the profile of the global leather industry, he was instrumental in the launch of the ‘Real Leather; Stay Different’ programme in 2019, describing it as a campaign to encourage designers and consumers to “choose and celebrate real leather”.

He also played a lead role in compiling figures to calculate the extent of the problem of US hides going to waste and in communicating the significance of this in the US and beyond. He repeated this in 2021 when research from Montana State University presented objective economic analysis that shows that demand for hides is not a driver for cattle slaughter.

Armed with these facts, Stephen Sothmann led an industry-wide initiative to demand fairer treatment for leather and other natural materials from the organisation behind the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI).

“At every step in the supply chain, I have seen that there are smart, educated, and passionate people all trying to do the right thing to move the industry forward in a positive direction,” he said. “To that end, I leave my post feeling very confident that leather’s best days are still ahead of it.”

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