Survive & Thrive
Early this year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) passed a stay of enforcement for certain requirements of the CPSIA, and another bill just recently went to Congress that will attempt to refine and amend CPSIA (see sidebar). However, even with these measures in place, suppliers and distributors must prepare themselves for some turbulence ahead. “It is going to be a process for any company, but for some it will be particularly difficult,” said Jonathan Isaacson, president of Gemline, Lawrence, Mass. He added: “Beyond the problem of defining what exactly ‘compliance’ means in a very vaguely defined law, companies [need] to have a strong process in place to be able to respond to the requirements.”
But it’s not all bad. Though it might require some front-end investment and a little more homework, contrary to some opinions, there are ways the industry can work within the system to maintain profit margins.
Invest in testing.
Soep noted that as part of Gordon Industries’ testing procedures, particularly for the company’s drinkware line—a category that, for any supplier, has been hit hard by both BPA and lead—every single product SKU is being sent out for third-party testing. Each test costs a couple thousand dollars per item, and must be done annually. “We’re also making an investment in technology that allows us to examine and test product as it comes in from our factories overseas,” he said, adding that there will be benchmark points throughout the testing process at which items will be examined to ensure “there’s no deviation between the approved and tested product.” Gemline has also invested in testing equipment both here in the U.S. as well as in Asia, Isaacson said.
What you can do: Understand that with all the testing and re-testing going on, there might be some unforeseen limitations in terms of product availability.