C-Slide Holdings Begins QCA Accreditation Process

The WebCam Cover supplier has applied to participate in QCA’s comprehensive compliance program. CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (February 25, 2019) – More and more companies—from Fortune 1000 corporations to local organizations—are only interested in vendors who understand the importance of safety and compliance and who insist on it as it relates to every component of the manufacturing and import process. Additionally, the public is demanding more accountability and greater positive impacts on society from the businesses they support. In order to meet these buyer demands for brand safety and responsible sourcing, Lehi, Utah-based C-Slide Holdings has applied to participate in the comprehensive Compliance Accreditation Program developed by Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), the promotional product industry’s only independent, non-governmental accreditation organization dedicated to helping companies provide safe and responsibly sourced products. Before applying for QCA Accreditation, Lori Metz, C-Slide Holdings’ operations manager, says the company had only done some limited testing within the supply chain but now realizes it is time for a more formal approach. “We have customers that require compliance documentation,” she says when talking about the motivation behind applying for QCA Accreditation. “We want to have peace of mind knowing we are doing all in our power to run a responsible company. Then once we achieve Accreditation and can market ourselves as compliant, we hope even more sales doors will open.” C-Slide Holdings has begun the initial self-assessment phase which is followed by the rigorous implementation of policies and procedures. Once these are complete, then the company submits its headquarters and supply base to multiple third-party audits. Finally, the QCA board uses a scorecard representing the performance of the applicant and its supply chain on the third-party audits as the foundation for granting Accreditation. “In January, QCA launched a new participation model to make the Accreditation program more inclusive and accessible to companies of all sizes,” said Tim Brown, MAS, QCA’s executive director of operations. “C-Slide Holdings was immediately interested because they understand that corporate responsibility, sustainability and brand safety are no longer secondary concerns for businesses, brands and organizations. Buyers want assurances that their business partners have processes in place to protect their brand reputations, workers in the supply chain and the environment. Applying for QCA Accreditation is the first step C-Slide Holding can take to meet these demands.” For more information about QCA Accreditation and to inquire about the process and benefits received, contact tbrown@qcalliance.org. About QCA:...

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Investing In Brand Safety And Customer Relationships

Investing In Brand Safety And Customer Relationships

Going Above and Beyond and Then Some. When Prime Resources Corp. became a founding supplier of QCA back in 2008, Jill Rogoz, senior director of compliance and quality assurance, says the company went into the program with eyes wide open. They felt much was being done correctly within their facility to consistently deliver safe, high-quality, socially compliant and environmentally conscientious merchandise. However, with a vast array of products—everything from bags, drinkware, tech accessories, gift items, desk products, stress relievers, apparel, headwear, executive toys and writing instruments—they knew there would be an opportunity for improvement. “While Prime has operated within defined product safety, quality and social accountability parameters, the initial process for QCA Accreditation revealed many opportunities for improvement,” Jill says. “Taking a long and honest look at our policies, processes and procedures to completely answer the initial self-assessment was actually the most challenging part of the process. The vast amount of information we needed to gather and verify from all departments within the company was daunting. However, it was this process of gathering information that truly showed not only the gaps and weaknesses in our programs but also the strengths!” That’s a great point. It’s never easy to hear feedback about things that could be done better. But the flip side is that you may get confirmation on things that are being done right. Moreover, to grow and prosper in today’s business environment, it’s important to know both. It’s also critical to understand that product safety, and compliance (social responsibility, environmental stewardship, product quality and supply chain security) is not like summiting a mountain and being able to say you got to the top and now you’re done. Rather, it’s a continuous journey that becomes integrated into the way you do business. Prime has taken this integration seriously, establishing a large budget for product testing, factory audits, and a dedicated quality-assurance staff. Moreover, for more than a decade, they have utilized a dedicated in-house laboratory armed with XRF technology. “For all shipments that arrive at any of our warehouses, we send representative samples to the XRF laboratory where a dedicated technician monitors them for compliance with heavy metals,” Jill says. As important as testing is, audits are what safeguard brand safety. “Our audits go above and beyond, ensuring we work with factories that operate with the same social, environmental and quality ideals that drive us every day,” Jill says....

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Brand Safety Is The New Standard

Wov-In Brands Applied For QCA Accreditation To Meet Customer Demands As end buyers continue to demand brand safety through responsible sourcing, promotional products suppliers have an important decision to make: How will they meet the needs of distributors, and in turn their end-buyer customers, in terms of corporate social responsibility and product safety? While there are corporate responsibility statements, self-managed compliance programs simply aren’t effective. It’s kind of like the popular New Year’s Resolution to get more exercise. There’s excitement with the setting of a new goal. In January, gyms are filled day and night with people lifting weights and logging miles. Posts flood social media with people sharing their progress. However, come March, gym traffic is down. There are less and less social posts about fitness. People have gone back to their old ways. Why? The commitment to fitness is hard. You have to put in the work every day to make gains. That’s why there’s an entire industry around fitness trainers and coaches—to hold people accountable so they can reach the goals they set. Same thing with compliance programs. Companies want to meet buyer demands by providing safe products that are responsibly sourced. So they try to keep up with the changing regulatory environment and manage all of the third-party factory audits themselves. Turns out, it’s harder than anticipated. Moreover, like the gym goers, after a few months the enthusiasm wanes, distractions occur (a machine breaks down, a website update must happen, a big order comes in, and it’s all hands on deck) and the compliance program is forgotten. There must be a better way. Enter QCA Accreditation.   Partnering For Success WOV-IN Brands recognized the challenges of going down the compliance road alone, so they opted to apply for QCA Accreditation to help them develop the policies and procedures so they can consistently deliver safe, high-quality, socially compliant and environmentally conscientious merchandise that buyers demand—and have the documentation to prove it. Note: WOV-IN Brands has not yet received their Accreditation. The organization is in the program and working diligently towards completing all requirements in the coming months. “Brand safety is increasingly important, and this is not a trend that will reverse course,” says Joe Johnson, WOV-IN Brands’ director of operations. “The expectations that began with a few select brands are becoming the new standard for all brands. We must demonstrate to our distributor customers and their...

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Undoing Commodity Damage

Undoing Commodity Damage

How You Can Help Procurement Professionals Focus On Value Not Price Salespeople and procurement professionals tend to be diametrically opposed. Salespeople want to maximize profit and procurement officers want to minimize price. The result has been the commoditization of many promotional products—everything from drinkware, apparel, tech products and even rubber duckies. Because of the price pressures, our industry has responded by importing more and more cheap goods to meet the growing demand. While these procurement pros have received what they asked for, there’s also been a host of unintended consequences: Products that contain harmful chemicals, are not ethically made nor manufactured in an environmentally friendly manner. For Fortune 1,000 companies, these are critical issues that can seriously damage their brand reputations. At the 2018 ProcureCon Marketing conference held in San Diego, California, this is one of the topics that was eagerly discussed by both attendees and exhibitors alike.   Illuminating The Issues The process of employing RFPs and RFQs seems reasonable enough. Why not systematically be able to evenly evaluate vendors? Yet, has this procedure backfired when it comes to marketing and, specifically, purchasing promotional products? Procurement professionals value their brands, and they sincerely want to work with the marketing department to get the best value and performance from their vendors at the most reasonable price. “Yet there was a surprising takeaway from conference attendees in that they acknowledged how the RFP and RFQ have backfired in some ways when it comes to marketing,” says Tim Brown, QCA’s executive director, who attended the event. “Now there is a drive to right the way and look for more value adds and less commodity focused thinking.” So what changed? Why are these buyers reconsidering how they do business? Clearly, brand value is paramount for these organizations, especially the Fortune 1,000. They have put considerable time and even more money into building their brand awareness and reputation. They cannot afford for an inexpensive promo item to create a negative media storm when there’s a problem or a recall. Several of these companies have already had to deal with negative fallouts from different reputational hits to their brands from various forces. Thus, they are keenly aware of the impact on their brand from negative publicity, and they are now taking steps to reduce the risk. Moreover, that means looking deeply at the procurement process. So while some promo pros may see this as...

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New Participation Model Expands Engagement And Involvement

Since QCA was founded in 2008, much has changed. There are more regulations, greater consumer awareness and increased pressure from brands to provide products that are safe and responsibly sourced. However, some things remain the same. Keeping up with all the changes is just as difficult today as it was then. Moreover, going it alone seems like an insurmountable task. That’s why QCA was formed, to ease the burden promotional products suppliers experience when trying to meet buyer demands on product safety and quality, social responsibility, supply chain security and environmental impact. While suppliers shoulder much of the responsibility, they’re not the only ones who have an obligation to deliver on the promise of brand safety. The entire supply chain—including distributors and end buyers—must have a vested interest to transform the way our industry does business beyond a handful of forward-thinking companies. Enter a new participation model.   Becoming More Inclusive We spent much of 2018 taking a long, hard, in-depth look at ourselves, our current program structure and the industry so we could determine the relevance of the current path and where any course corrections were needed. We realized there is considerable opportunity for brand safety to have greater impact and meet buyer demands through expanded participation on both the supplier and distributor sides. So we got to work modernizing our organization. It started with building a restructured participation model and fee structure that is more engaging and inclusive with distributors and end buyers while keeping our overall mission and standards intact. The new participation model consists of four categories: Users Distributor Advocates Certified Distributors and Decorators Accredited Suppliers By revitalizing the structure, distributors are empowered to collectively have a greater say in their supplier expectations for brand safety and responsible sourcing. Currently, small distributors lack the voice to push suppliers to go above and beyond. However, the new participation model allows a greater number of smaller distributors to collectively have a voice while at the same time enabling distributors and decorators of all sizes to be held to a higher standard through more accountability via certification. Additionally, the inclusion of direct end-buyer engagement allows for organizations of all sizes to publicly communicate their expectations to our industry. By becoming a part of QCA, these organizations will become part of the solution by helping to make our industry better.    With the expanded reach of the participation model,...

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