[...] in a changing industry full of uncertainty—one begging for someone to take an ethical stand on how to conduct business, and facing a barrage of new product safety laws—where does the industry look for guidance, a solid knowledge base and products that offer peace of mind? Perhaps the Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), a nonprofit group founded by industry leaders, can provide that assurance. With a solid mission statement, “to raise the bar in providing consistently safe, high-quality, socially compliant and environmentally conscientious merchandise to clients and their constituents,” the organization is attempting to offer as much certainty as possible without a calculator and Schedule C or one foot in the grave. At the PPAI Expo in January, Promo Marketing sat down with three of the organization’s founding members, Jay Deutsch, CEO of Bensussen Deutsch & Associates (BDA), Woodinville, Wash.; Trevor Gnesin, president of Logomark, Tustin, Calif.; and Andrea Engel, vice president of merchandising for BroderBros., Trevose, Pa., in order to learn more. The QCA is really a group of 14 founding members coming together and saying we are going to put together a quality program, a safety program, surrounding products and social compliance inside of the marketplace. The great thing about this organization is that you’ve got suppliers who are in different categories ... [and distributors who] really care about doing the right thing for the industry. There are so many laws, so many things that are procedures that really aren’t standardized, we thought it was important to do this as a service to our customer base, so they would feel comfortable knowing that no matter what product they bought from this group, they could be sure it met all the requirements, it was safe and there were no worries. First of all, we’ve been having conversations with our clients over the past five years. What we are really focused on is getting our founding members ... accredited. Consumers want safe product and that’s not too much to ask. [...] that should be the standard of this industry. ... [...] you have to [answer] prequalification questionnaires. Dee with third-party testing companies [goes] into your facilities, both here stateside—any domestic decorating, any overseas factories, and to a representation of your factories to ensure that your SOPs are alive and breathing. Product quality, product safety, social compliance, environmental stewardship and supply-chain safety. The overall basis of the self-assessment is [to ask the questions] “Do you have policies in place?” and “Do you have ways to enforce those policies?” It’s very intensive. If you have been in this business a long time and you have been doing the right amount of testing—you’ll find mistake opportunities in the manufacturing process. No one can test every single piece of every single consumer product sold or given away ... it’s impossible. In the olden days, one could start a business, you could bring in product and you could sell it. Hopefully, there is going to be a natural attraction for people who take product safety and social compliance seriously.
Trevose, Pennsylvania-based BroderBros. announced innovation and major style trends are likely to take a backseat to value-based, quality brands, as the summer selling season approaches.
Something very exciting is happening. Or, at this point, it's already happened, but on the first day of PPAI, when it hadn't happened yet, I had that static electricity feeling that something big was about to happen. My esteemed colleagues and I were on tap to help announce the creation of the industry's first Quality Certification Alliance. And I was excited.