Each month, this site will feature a Fur Industry VIP – someone whose contributions have had a permanent impact on the industry. To be awarded the Man of the Month title, the individual will be a well known mover and shaker within the fur industry, selected by our editors for this prestigious designation.
Our first MAN OF THE MONTH is Andreas Lenhart, Chairman of the International Fur Trade Federation. Mr. Lenhart joined IFTF thirty-eight years ago – in 1972, representing Germany. He was elected Chairman a decade ago and continues to balance his focus between his family business and IFTF. He has been at the helm of the highly successful Rosenberg & Lenhart, one of the largest firms in the fur industry, for the past 50 years.
A LIFE IN THE FUR TRADE
Andreas Lenhart was literally dropped into the fur business in 1961 at the age of 19, when his father died suddenly. The junior Lenhart (together with is brother) took his familial responsibilities seriously, following in the footsteps of this father, grandfather, great and great, great grandfathers at the helm of the family’s business Rosenberg & Lenhart.
50 active years in a business, gives someone a unique perspective on a trade’s history, journey, and future. The fur trade is one of the most discussed and scrutinized trades in the world. The opinions on its products, behavior and place in society are highly polarized, which makes holding a constructive debate difficult.
“The biggest challenges I have experienced are without a shadow of a doubt the actions of animal rights organizations,” says Lenhart. “It shocked me deeply to see how they attacked our trade, in a very disrespectful and non-negotiable way. The violent attacks on people as well as businesses were an absolute downside of my life in the fur trade. It still saddens me that the attacks had no ethics, no dignity, no room for conversation or respect. Despite the hard work and love for their industry, the reputation of countless family businesses was contaminated. Feeling that you almost had to apologize to belong to your trade was hard to bear and is fundamentally unjust.”
“On the upside, it is heart-warming to see that lots of people, in and around the industry stayed loyal. Family driven businesses, great retailers, distributors, dynamic and refreshing designers, editors of countless magazines, and –let’s not forget- loyal clients have kept this industry thriving. The passion, skill, and dedication of these people have made the fur trade a better, responsible industry that has a firm place in today’s society. The loyalty of all people concerned, and the support we got even in the most difficult times kept me going, especially when times were rough.”
I never had the impression I was working…
“Even on the roughest seas, I never had the impression I was working” Lenhart continues. “The fur trade is truly my life. That and my family are my most prized possessions. It really means a big deal to me. That’s why I still do it: it’s what keeps me ticking. As long as my health supports it, and as long as I can make a valuable contribution, I will continue my involvement in the fur trade. There is still much to do. We see geographic shifts, new markets, new implementations and new trends. But evolving makes us stronger, better.” The next generation
“What makes me very proud is that we can hand over the fur trade to the next generation. There is a next generation. And the fur business is here to stay, also for the future generations. Oh, I’m sure it will have to continue to change, adapt, evolve…. But it always has. And always will. The ability to pass on the passion for fur, that delicate soft gorgeous natural fibre, to the next generation proves me that over all, this industry will be all right. People of my generation have been working hard, and invested means and energy to guarantee the freedom of choice for the next generation. That is how the wheel of time turns… “
“It is so refreshing to see the next generation at work, with their ideas, their passion. It’s a good generation. They have not been so much exposed to all the negatives, and are still fresh enough to inject their creativity and bubbling ideas into innovation. New thinking will come out of these people; they’ll be innovative without being told what to do. They will adapt. And they will communicate and interact even better than the generations before them.”
I hope tomorrow’s society will be based on respect and dialogue
“I see also the same refreshed thinking in the media, on the markets. People can talk about fur, use fur, and integrate fur. The new generation does not let itself be steered by the animal rights groups’ crying wolf, but is mature enough to make up its mind on its own. And that is all I’m asking. I have nothing against an open debate culture, on the contrary. We need to exchange views, opinions and current and future trends together. Based on arguments, respect and dialogue: that’s how tomorrow’s society is going to be, I hope.”
From the Editors
We believe that Andreas Lenhart is an excellent candidate for our very first Man of the Month designation. With over 50 years in the business and 10 years as Chairman of the IFTF, his impact on the fur industry at large has been epic. We applaud his many accomplishments and are grateful for his tremendous leadership. We are proud to welcome him into our esteemed Man of the Month family.
Koral Kanca & Michael Consiglio
RB Media Group