An important benefit from this is that importing products  from leading chemical suppliers exposes Budi Makmur and other Indonesian tanneries (there are currently 67 in  operation) to innovation. “This is about being exposed to creative ideas, ”Mr Sutanto says. “We are not exposed enough to fashion and future trends”. He is attempting to pioneer the local leather industry’s journey towards a broader view of the world. As well as opening its doors to the Tannery of the Year team, Budi Makmur has engaged with ISO (see  panel), meeting standard 14001 in March 2009, and standard 9001, initially in 1997 and later, for the extended version, in November 2010. It’s also involved with the Leather Working Group, achieving bronze status in both the audits it has undergone so far, in 2009 and 2010. The tannery has also engaged with the International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (IULTCS) and Mr Sutanto has recently been elected chairman of the Indonesian Tanners Association, APKI. He says the focus of tanners in Indonesia has traditionally been internal. “We are individualists,” he continues, “and we are therefore less exposed to outside ideas. Many tanners here feel no need to see how what they are doing compares with what happens in the outside world. But organisations such as IULTCS and some of the chemical companies are sharing ideas and we have decided that we want to be part of that. I will share those ideas with other APKI members. Does this make Budi Makmur a pioneer? Well, I hope so.”

He explains that Indonesia is “a bit isolated” from the global leather industry, but having always worked with overseas customers the country, his company has exposed itself to outside influences and international regulations. “I believe these things mean customers can have confidence in us,” he says.