Public Speaking

Throughout his career, Robert Sarner has taken part in numerous conferences, symposiums, panel discussions, workshops, and courses focusing on a wide range of subjects. This in addition to sitting on award juries and participating in many TV and radio programs, writing letters-to-the-editor of newspapers, and being interviewed countless times for print and broadcast media.

Here’s a selection:

  • Speaker, University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Commerce, 2012 Power of Branding Symposium, Toronto, March 2012
  • Speaker, Ryerson University, Professional Communication Department panel discussion, Toronto, Nov. 2011
  • Lecturer, Schulich School of Business, (IMBA program), York University, Sept. 2011
  • Lecturer, 10th Public Affairs Conference, Federated Press, Toronto, Sept. 2011
  • Co-Lecturer, Corporate Brand Communications Course, Toronto, Sept. 2009
  • Moderator, UJA Evening on Israeli elections, Toronto, Feb. 2009
  • Speaker, American Express Advisory Council Meeting, (Speaker), Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Sept. 2008
  • Panelist, Retail Council of Canada Conference, Toronto, June 2008
  • Panelist, CBC-TV, The Big Picture, Toronto, Oct. 2006
  • Judge, Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, Graphex National Design Competition awarding the best in visual communication, and panelist/presenter at related public panel discussion, Vancouver, Nov. 2005
  • Featured guest, Roy Green Show, 640 Radio, Toronto, Dec. 1996
  • Panelist (in French), Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France, March 1990
  • Panelist (in French), TF1-TV, Droit de Réponse, Paris, Nov. 1982

Letters to the Editor

Robert has also published numerous letters to the editor, especially in his capacity as Director of Communication and Public Affairs at Roots Canada. Here’s one example, as published in the National Post on Jan. 7, 2011

We’re proud of our Canadian Roots

In your Dec. 16 edition, columnist William Watson took umbrage at CBC-TV’s recent news feature on the positive economic impact of Canadian manufacturing and its use of Roots to illustrate the topic. He accused the CBC of being “jingoistic” and encouraging “morally-coerced, consumer driven protectionism.”

Methinks he doth protest too much. At Roots, we, of course, don’t presume to be economists or to speak on behalf of the CBC and its editorial decisions. Still, we feel Mr. Watson’s attack on the CBC, particularly its Senior Business Correspondent, Amanda Lang, who did the piece, is unwarranted.

Mr. Watson depicts the promotion of buying Canadian-made products in a pejorative light. What’s wrong with supporting your own companies and industries, assuming the quality and price are competitive? Every country takes pride in what it produces and Canada is no different. The benefits are many, economic and otherwise.

Domestic versus offshore manufacturing is a more complex issue than most people realize, one not conducive to a five-minute TV piece or a newspaper column.

Mr. Watson suggests there’s little difference for our economy between buying a Canadian-made product compared to one made in China. We beg to differ.

We believe a healthy manufacturing sector contributes greatly to the financial state of a country, even enhancing its own self-image. Beyond the economic dividends, manufacturing contributes to a country’s culture and social fabric. That’s why we’re proud of our factory in Toronto and the other manufacturing we do in Canada with various suppliers. That’s why, whenever possible and feasible, Roots makes products in Canada.

When the CBC contacted us, they said they wanted to do a behind-the-scenes look at the manufacturing, distribution and retailing of a successful product made in Canada, and its ripple effect on the national economy. They chose to spotlight the Village Bag. It was timely as the holiday gift-buying season typically results in an upsurge in consumer spending on which the economy, especially the retail sector, depends so much.

Mr. Watson cites the fact that for the Village Bag we use leather from Italy and machinery from overseas. For the record, if the same quality leather and machinery were made in Canada, we would be only too happy to buy it here.

When Roots began in the early 1970s, we used Canadian leather for most of our products. Sadly, since then, the Canadian leather industry, especially the tanneries from which we used to purchase our leather, has been largely decimated, like so much of the country’s manufacturing sector. Likewise for the machinery needed to make leather goods.

As a proudly Canadian company, we love making products here, especially when they enjoy international success. Only last week, we shipped $500,000 in Roots leather goods made in our Toronto factory to Asia for customers to purchase in our stores there.

We take pride in our ability to compete on the world stage against top brands. Without any pretense of objectivity, we maintain that Roots leather goods, based on a price/quality basis, compare favourably to any other international brand and that includes Prada, Hermes, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. It’s not unusual for our competitors to charge two or three times more than Roots for a comparable product.

Clearly, many people in this country relate to purchasing Canadian-made merchandise. After the airing of the CBC report on the Village Bag, the response was profound. We experienced a substantial increase in sales of this bag with many shoppers commenting to our retail staff and in email to the head office about how much they love buying great products made in Canada.

Robert Sarner
Director of Communication and Public Affairs
Roots Canada, Toronto





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