QCA Members Vote to Wind Down the Organization
In April, accredited supplier members of Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), Chicago, voted to wind down the organization. No new applications are being accepted, and current members will continue to be supported through Aug. 1, 2020.
Several factors contributed to the decision to wind down.
“First, QCA has done an excellent job in educating accredited suppliers on product safety and compliance, enabling many to build and manage effective product safety and compliance programs,” said D.E. Fenton, QCA’s executive director. “Second, QCA raised the awareness of product safety and compliance for the industry. Comparing today versus 12 years ago, there is substantially more information available on this topic. Many promotional products suppliers have created their own processes around product safety and compliance. This is a testament to the great work and service QCA delivered, not only to its participants, but to the industry overall. Finally, industry consolidation continues to drive a reduction in the total number of supplier participants, placing additional pressure on our ability to maintain and grow QCA.”
From June 6, 2008, when a group of 14 suppliers agreed to work together to establish industry standards, much has been accomplished. QCA solidified its status as an independent body on May 29, 2009, when it filed articles of incorporation for not-for-profit status.
At QCA’s inception, there were no standards for product safety nor compliance, in general, within the promotional products industry. To address this need, QCA developed a comprehensive program based upon a combination of state and national laws, international standards and industry-accepted best practices that are recognized for their strength and effectiveness. These guidelines not only addressed product safety, but also product quality, social responsibility, supply chain security and environmental stewardship. These became the five pillars of compliance that served as the foundation of the organization.
While the initial QCA Supplier Accreditation Program was built 12 years ago, the organizations continually updated the criteria to align with new laws and any revised standards, so participants always had access to the most current information. Because of the comprehensive nature of the program and the fact that it was based on the most current laws and standards, it quickly became the gold standard of the industry.
Naturally, suppliers have made role in product safety and responsible sourcing, but distributors have a part to play as well. To meet the needs of distributors, QCA created the Distributor Certification Program, with the goal to further strengthen the supply chain and help distributors better meet the needs of their corporate clients.
Together, the Supplier Accreditation Program and Distributor Certification Program complemented one another to provide the highest level of collaboration between suppliers and distributors/decorators, and strengthen their relationships for an even sturdier supply chain.
Throughout the organization’s 12-year history, QCA worked with nearly 100 industry first to help them build their compliance programs, deliver safer and more responsibly sourced merchandise, and elevate the overall perception of the promotional products industry. Even though the organization believes there is still work to be done, there is much to be proud of in terms of the impact made on the individual companies as well as the industry as a whole.
“QCA drove the appetite for product safety and responsible sourcing with the idea that compliance wasn’t just good business, but it is good for business,” said David Clifton, chief marketing officer for QCA-accredited supplier alphabroder and president of QCA’s board of directors. “This appetite fostered innovation that made companies stronger. In a way, QCA is declaring victory on a job well done and leaving the industry in a much safer and more compliant state than when the organization joined it—and that was always the mission.”
For more information on QCA, visit www.qcalliance.org.