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global environmentalists gather to discuss sustainability in sourcing raw materials

Nazareth, Pa
June 19, 2019

The June 11, 2019, 7th Biannual Wood Summit, organized by C. F. Martin & Co.® (Martin®), included representatives from National Resources Canada, the World Resource Institute, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Investigation Agency. They came to provide a multifaceted view of the current state of responsible and sustainable sourcing of raw materials, specifically the exotic woods from which Martin Guitar crafts its acoustic guitars. Underscoring the commitment to the environment, Martin Guitar held the gathering at the Jacobsburg Environmental Center, less than three miles from its headquarters.

The opening topic reviewed Martin Guitar’s status as a Certified B Corporation®, a certification process comprising a 170-point review of business practices that includes its environmental impact. Chris Martin, Martin Guitar’s CEO, made it a goal to become the first business in the music industry to achieve the designation, especially since many of its provisions were already part of the manufacturer’s established policies and procedures. Martin Guitar was named a Certified B Corporation® in September 2018, joining the likes of Ben & Jerry’s, Warby Parker and Patagonia.

In his CEO Commentary, Chris Martin cited the industry’s long-term preference for “rare and exotic woods” such as rosewood, mahogany and spruce. He reiterated the company’s commitment to procuring these woods in a sustainable way, while also “...convincing the customers – both the consumer and the dealer – that there are other viable woods” suitable for guitars.

“All wood has a story,” he continued. “But what we're finding is that consumers want to know that story, the story behind each and every tree that we are involved with along the way. And as we tell those stories, I think it will help sell more guitars.”

Martin also announced plans for building a new 200,000 sq. ft. warehouse at the Chrin Commerce Centre off Route 33; it will eventually store both raw materials and finished product.

A panel discussion addressed the provisions of the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species (CITES), a 1970s-era multilateral treaty protecting endangered plants and animals. CITES provisions are clearly aimed at overseeing the import and export of raw materials; however, its tenets may also have applicability to the sale and transport of finished products. This wider interpretation has affected Martin Guitar (and all musical instrument manufacturers using wood) in terms of import/export trade and even shipping instruments offshore for performances. This latter point was discussed by Heather Noonan of the League of American Orchestras, NY.

The sessions wrapped up on the campus of Martin Guitar’s factory, where a tree was planted in memory of those who lost their lives in the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka. CITES has rescheduled the meeting for August 2019, relocating it from Sri Lanka to Geneva.

The next Martin Guitar Wood Summit is expected for 2021.