A certified woman-owned (WBENC) California corporation, MadeToOrder, Inc. (MTO) focuses on building long-term customer relationships through highly responsive sales and the sourcing of branded merchandise. The MTO team delivers cost-effective, high perceived value, customized and personalized products, service and technology to clients the world over to achieve the mission of assisting organizations with adding dimension to their brands in customized and memorable ways.

The company is always cognizant of the fact that clients have many choices when it comes to the selection of a branded products partner, and that it’s often difficult to determine what factors, beyond price, should influence their decisions. For MadeToOrder, one of those factors is brand safety and the ability to consistently deliver safe, high-quality, socially compliant and environmentally conscientious merchandise.

In this week’s Partners In Brand Safety conversation, we chat with Rod Brown, CFO and managing director, about the challenges of educating buyers on the importance of brand safety and why a long-term view is the key to success.


1. What does brand safety mean to you?

Rod BrownSelling brand safety means doing the right thing – the right thing for your clients, the right thing for consumers and the right thing for your business reputation, economics, and brand.  


2. What motivated you to seek out DAC affiliation?

I pushed QCA hard in the early years to have some role as a distributor. I believed it might help to create greater funding for the effort, a wider buy-in from the industry and lead to a modest competitive advantage.


The QCA mission, work and brand needs more financial support from many more participants in the industry. I felt we could help lead the way with some financial support and, in the process, learn more and be better. Eventually, I see QCA developing enough brand recognition that is similar to the Underwriters Laboratories UL brand.


3. How have you been able to leverage your DAC affiliation with end buyers?

Generally speaking, our clients are still of the belief that everything they buy is the same. Clearly, a few clients are demanding some level of testing or documentation, but a large majority still have not made the connection that they need to be more discriminating with their vendor selection.


It is perhaps a failure or at least a missed opportunity that we have done a poor job in communication with clients as well. I do believe there is progress, but it has been slow to make a significant brand identity that clients actually know the QCA brand and call out for QCA accredited companies products solely.


4. What would you say to an industry supplier that is on the fence about whether or not QCA Accreditation is worth the investment?

Do the right thing, get ahead of the curve and take every opportunity to differentiate yourself from the thousands of other vendor competitors out there. Invest in the QCA brand and the initiative, protect our markets from more legislation by demonstrating our industry is moving in the right direction.


5. How are end buyers’ requirements about product safety/compliance changing the way the promotional products industry does business?

Again it is a slow burn, but it is occurring. More and more clients are realizing they need to protect their consumers and business, and this will push more responsibility onto the distributors.


It will only take one large client relationship to quickly change priorities and recognize that QCA Accredited Suppliers may be the ONLY place to buy products for their brands. If our firm is not there participating, supporting and learning, we will not be ready to support or sell to this client. So we continue to invest modest time, energy and education into the process.


It is about progress, doing the right thing and being bettereven if it is slow and costly. We take a long-term view.



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If you are a promotional products supplier and want to learn how to make your sourcing program more robust, learn more about QCA here.

For industry distributors who want to add value and differentiation to their promotional products offerings, reach out to QCA Accredited Companies.

For brands who want to work with companies who go above and beyond to protect their reputation and image, work with promotional consultants who support the QCA mission and request that your vendors use QCA Accredited Companies.