In mid-September, with the unanimous approval of both of their respective memberships, the U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association (USHSLA) and Leather Industries of America (LIA) merged at a joint annual meeting in Chicago. As of Jan. 1, 2020, they will be known as the Leather and Hide Council of America (LHCA), under the leadership of Stephen Sothmann, USHSLA's current president. John Wittenborn is retiring after 15 years as LIA's president and about 34 years in the leather industry. Sothmann described the merger as a “step forward” in light of “soft global market demand, international trade disruptions and an increasingly consolidated industry.”