Shape Up or Ship Out
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.
Actually, for full dork disclosure: I felt a little like Tony from West Side Story. Right before the dance, when he sings "Something's Coming," he knows he's going to meet Maria and his spidey senses are at full tilt.
Yeah, I said it.
Anyway, the first day of PPAI, we had the pleasure of sitting down with board members Andrea Engel of BroderBros., Jay Deutsch of BDA and Trevor Gnesin from Logomark to discuss the QCA, its development and plans for its future. It's been in the works for about a year now, and the goal of the operation is basically to ensure that member companies uphold the highest standards of product quality and safety, social compliance, environmental responsibility, and supply-chain safety.
I'm always kind of wary of these types of organizations—the cynic in me wonders how rigorous the standards really are and if it's just a shrewd business move to get people to pay to have a sticker slapped on their product—but QCA struck me as the real deal. Not only because of the time commitment the entire board has put in to develop the Alliance, but also the financial obligation required to practice what they preach—each company is going through the extensive certification process and are throwing out and changing practices that aren't up to par. "We're the guinea pigs," said Engel, vice president of merchandising at BroderBros. Each board member's company has a June 2009 deadline to be deemed compliant.
And since they're being that tough on their own governors, I think it's safe to say they'll put you through the paces, too. What's more, member companies can't buy their way in. The first round of sign-ups is by invitation only.
For those who are just tuning in, I've hopped on my soapbox numerous times over the past year regarding product safety, and I consider it an issue that is particularly close to my heart.
Needless to say, I'm stoked about QCA and I'll be interested to see how things progress. Hopefully, it'll send just the right message for an industry that, as a whole, was maybe a little too casual about the whole responsibility thing in the past.