Quality Certification Alliance was founded as an independent organization committed to the continuous and measurable improvement of product and sources in terms of safety, quality, social compliance and environmental stewardship through the implementation and use of standards recognized for their strength and effectiveness in achieving that goal among the membership, our industry and the end users.
The organization’s efforts focused around the objectives:
- Dedicate the Organization to providing quality and safe products to the end consumer.
- Develop a common standard against which the Organization may accredit member companies’ policies and procedures for certifying supply chains and testing products for compliance.
- Establish an independent accreditation body, whose focus is to uphold the integrity of the Organization’s standards through assessment and award of accreditation of members’ compliance efforts.
- Apply compliance processes and practices equally to domestic and international markets.
- Reduce compliance-related costs for the Membership through economies of scale.
- Market the Organization to the industry, trade, and Corporate America.
- Create brand equity and enhance product value with the Alliance’s Accreditation Seal in the marketplace.
- Continuously monitor for new and relevant safety and compliance information, updating the QCA Compliance Accreditation Program and communicating that information to the membership at large.
Founded in 2008, the Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), an independent 501(c)(6) not-for-profit, maintained the only third party-validated compliance processes accreditation program serving the ad specialties industry, also known as the promotional products industry. QCA’s membership ranged from smaller importers and domestic manufacturers to large multi-national companies. Over its 12-year history, QCA extended accreditation to 53 member companies.
QCA’s mission to elevate the manufacturing standards for promotional products suppliers and importers, as well as their contract manufacturing facilities where these products were produced ensuring merchandise was safe, high quality and manufactured in an ethical and environmentally conscientious manner touched over 500 factories in 23 countries and countless brands, from Wall Street to Main Street.
QCA granted accreditation to companies completing a process incorporating a self-assessment and gap analysis that was then validated by third party audits of a company’s North American operations and its sourcing base. The scope of the supplier Compliance Accreditation Program included product safety, quality, social accountability, supply chain security and environmental stewardship. A 4 man-day audit battery, the third party audits utilized were based on a combination of state and national laws, international standards and industry-accepted best practices recognized for their strength and effectiveness. Accredited members were required to complete accreditation renewals every two years, performing randomly-selected audits of the sourcing base in non-renewal years.
From 2011, QCA sponsored an annual ink testing initiative supported by QCA’s preferred testing partner, ANSECO (now QIMA), that grew from 4 ink manufacturers to include 10 manufacturers, testing 54 unique ink series and their additives.
From 2014, QCA implemented requirements for performing mock recalls. The environmental stewardship self-assessment was also expanded to include sustainability measures assessing consumption of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), power and water.
From 2016 to 2017, QCA designed, developed and benchmarked QCA’s proprietary social accountability audit protocol. The audit was validated for scope and methodology by Elevate. Benchmarking took place between the Fair Labor Association and Mars. Subsequently, QCA issued a request for proposal to the wider third party audit provider community, ultimately, appointing Bureau Veritas and Underwriters Laboratories as QCA’s approved third party audit providers from 2018.
In 2019, QCA launched the Distributor Compliance Certification Program in an effort to strengthen compliance processes in the promotional products marketplace through to the end-buyer.
QCA ceased operations in August 2020.
(At cessation of QCA operations)
Founded in 1919 as Broder Bros (now alphabroder) is the nation’s largest distributor of trade, private label and retail apparel brands and merchandise to the imprinting, embroidery and promotional product industries. alphabroder offers more than 43 brands including a broad selection of trade brands from Gildan, Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, Jerzees and Bella + Canvas plus an extensive assortment of retail brands including Adidas Golf, Ashworth, Champion, Russell Athletic, alternative and Dickies. alphabroder also offers industry-leading private label brands including Devon & Jones, Chestnut Hill, and Harriton. Alphabroder is proud to be one of the fourteen founding companies that launched the non-profit Quality Certification Alliance (QCA) organization in support of the industry’s advanced quality assurance practices for importing products overseas.
Prime Line® (Founder)
Prime Resources Corp. offers hundreds of products in 17 categories including backpacks, coolers, drinkware, eco-products, office accessories, notebooks/jotters, stress relievers, totes and writing instruments. Prime was one of the fourteen founding companies that launched the non-profit Quality Certification Alliance (QCA) organization in support of the industry’s advanced quality assurance practices for importing products overseas.
American Ad Bag
For 26 years American Ad Bag has been DELIVERING SOLUTIONS by providing the best products and services and outperforming the competition with value and a superior customer experience. Every day our team knows that we need to earn your business. We recognize that our strength and our competitive advantage are, and will always be, people. People working together. We ship our reusable bags — washable Kraft paper bags, non-woven, cotton canvas, paper and plastic bags from either Illinois or Arizona. Our printing processes include dye sublimation, screen printing, foil stamping, flexo printing and full color heat transfers. Being QCA accredited validates our commitment to quality and safety delivered. Visit www.adbag.com to learn more.
Bag Makers Inc.
BAG MAKERS has been a leading printed-bag supplier in the promotional products industry for 40 years. We partner with distributors to sell more than 97 million bags annually. BAG MAKERS specializes in non-woven, PET non-woven, paper, plastic, polyester, laminated, cotton/jute, and mesh bags, as well as ribbon, bows and tissue. We offer a wide variety of creative bag styles and versatile imprint methods to meet customer needs. We also offer custom design capabilities, rush service, and outstanding on-time shipping performance. BAG MAKERS is honored to be a Counselor Top 40 Supplier, 5-Star Rated ASI Supplier, A+ Rated SAGE Supplier, Counselor Distributor Choice Award Winner, and PPAI Supplier Star Award Winner. We are also proud to be a Certified Women’s Business Enterprise and Quality Certification Alliance Accredited Supplier. Learn more at www.bagmakersinc.com
BIC Graphic is a leader in product safety, quality assurance, social responsibility, supply chain security and environmental stewardship. Nearly all product SKUs are Prop 65 compliant and do not require a Prop 65 label when shipping to California. As one of the largest suppliers in the promotional products industry, BIC Graphic offers the most comprehensive product assortment with the widest variety of decoration methods. In addition to its well-known brands, such as BIC®, KOOZIE®, Atchison®, Triumph® and Souvenir®, they also have partnerships with prestigious retail brands such as myCharge®, Tervis®, HoMedics®, Titleist®, and Leatherman®. BIC Graphic operates five manufacturing facilities across the United States with three facilities in Florida and two facilities in Minnesota. The Company also operates a highly strategic product sourcing operation in Hong Kong and mainland China. Visit www.bicgraphic.com to learn more.
Chameleon Like Inc.
Established in 1998 in Northern California, Chameleon like, Inc. (formerly known as Chameleon Books & Journals) designs, produces, and markets a comprehensive line of Journals, Notebooks, Binders, Folders and other Desk related products. From its entrepreneurial humble beginnings to date, the company has grown its revenue and expanded its operations every year (except for one) and continues to innovate in design and to provide customer service excellence. It produces the majority of its line in its Gilroy, CA factory and counts over 65 employees.
Cutter & Buck, Inc.
Inspired by the golf lifestyle, Cutter & Buck provides men’s and women’s sportswear under the Cutter & Buck, Clique and New Wave brands. Offered in a wide range of colors, the garments feature classic styling combined with innovative fabrics and careful detailing to create a collection that appeals to an upscale consumer.
An industry leader for over 50 years and named 2017 “Family Business of the Year,” Fey specializes in products that keep you and your business organized. From exclusive Techfolios to our renowned U.S.A. Made custom 3-ring binders, specialized holders and Peel-n-Stick® calendar collection, we proudly offer a wide variety of industry leading business accessory products with the decoration capabilities to ensure your message stands out from the crowd.
Manufacturing creatively since 1996, Foamworx is a family owned North American supplier and the industry leader in foam promotional products. The company offers over 1000 stock products and the ability to custom create unique items with low minimums or high volumes while providing quick turnaround times.
Gemline has grown its core product line—which consisted of portfolios, business accessories, backpacks, sport & travel, totes & coolers—to include gifts, writing instruments, and Eco-Choice, an earth-friendly line made with organic and recycled fabrics. In addition, the product line focuses on niche markets including women’s, all-weather and checkpoint-friendly products. Gemline was one of the fourteen founding companies that launched the non-profit Quality Certification Alliance (QCA) organization in support of the industry’s advanced quality assurance practices for importing products overseas.
Hit Promotional Products, Inc.
Hit Promotional Products, Inc.
Hit Promotional Products Inc., with over 1400 employees, is a top 10 Promotional Products Industry Supplier. Hit seeks to be the industry leader in service, quality and value on the more than 1300 products that it offers occupying the value sector of 16 major promotional item categories including caps, bags, totes and cooler bags, writing instruments, drink ware, and leisure items as well as a recent emphasis on new lines of personal care and portable, on-the-go electronic items.
Admints & Zagabor
Admints & Zagabor is a USA manufacturer of candy, mints, food gifts and personal care items such as lip balm and hand sanitizer.
Founded in 2001, iClick is a leading supplier of promotional products to the advertising specialty and promotional marketing industries. The iClick product offering consists of USB Flash drives, computer tech and accessories, mobile tech, mobile accessories and writing instruments. iClick was the recipient of the prestigious Supplier of the Year award in 2014 from Counselor Magazine and the Counselor Magazines Distributor’s Choice Award, 6 years in a row, in iClick’s product category for best customer service among suppliers.
Crown Products, Inc.
Crown Products stocks more than 400 items in 15 categories such as automobile accessories, business and desk accessories, coolers, drinkware, gift sets, golf, keychains, padfolios, sports and recreation, travel and personal care, technology, tools and safety, totes and bags, and writing instruments. The company also offers a variety of imprinting methods, including silkscreen, pad, laser engraving, debossing, and color surge—a multi-color digital printing process.
Vitronic, with over 100 years of experience, is a top 40 Promotional Products Industry Supplier. Vitronic focuses on 7 core categories:leather, totes and bags, plush, lifestyle products such as coolers and kits, headwear, umbrellas, business and calendars. The company is proud to represent the following brands: Coleman® Coolers, totes® Umbrellas, Isotoner® smarTouch® Gloves, Gund® Plush, Andrew Philips® Leather. The company offers a variety of imprinting methods including 4-color processing, screen print, Image Lock, embroidery, deboss, hot stamp , Glitz Rhinestones, neon, glitter and reflective. Visit www.vitronicpromotional.com to learn more.
Logomark, Inc. (Founder)
Logomark is recognized for its distinctive collection of awards, bags, clocks, drinkware, eco-products, high-tech items, housewares, padfolios, pens, personal care products, recreation items, stationary, tools and watches. Logomark is proud to be one of the fourteen founding companies that launched the non-profit Quality Certification Alliance (QCA) organization in support of the industry’s advanced quality assurance practices for importing products overseas.
Polyconcept North America
Bullet Line, LLC
Bullet Line takes a unique approach to its product line, which includes a diverse range of bags and briefcases, clocks, coolers, desktop items, drinkware, flashlights, private-label headwear, key rings and tags, sports and fitness gear, tools, umbrellas and writing instruments.
Known for its product innovation, Leed’s brings a contemporary retail look to a comprehensive line of awards, bags and totes, blankets, coolers, desktop items, drinkware, eco-friendly products, electronics, flashlights, health and wellness items, outdoor products, pens, safety goods, towels, travel gifts, watches and umbrellas. Leed’s was one of the fourteen founding companies that launched the non-profit Quality Certification Alliance (QCA) organization in support of the industry’s advanced quality assurance practices for importing products overseas.
Journalbooks / Timeplanner Calendars
Journalbooks® specializes in decorating and imprinting journals and notebooks. It’s line of Made To Order journals features 100% Post Consumer Recycled paper and environmentally safe vegetable-based printing inks.
Family-owned and operated since 1971, Seattle-based SanMar is an award-winning supplier of nearly 20 retail, private label and mill brands. SanMar supplies apparel and accessories to screen printers, embroiderers, promotional products distributors, athletic dealers, industrial launderers and more – to outfit everyone from Fortune 500 corporations to small businesses to the local bowling team. Learn more at www.sanmar.com.
Spector And Co.
Spector and Co. is a leading North American supplier of promotional products for over 50 years. Employing approx. 400 office and factory staff, Spector & Co. ships from its modern 105,000 square foot facility and offers over 500 products; including writing instruments, journals, tech, travel and business accessories, along with its newest categories, Ashbury Bags and SpecFit. All promotional products are decorated with their state-of-the-art branding techniques.
Universal Strap/WOV-IN Brands
WOV-IN® is a third-generation family-owned and operated business that has been a fixture in the promotional products industry for over forty years. We are an award- winning supplier that specializes in over 200 custom woven products proudly made in the United States. Our high-quality, innovative woven products include lanyards, key fobs, patches, labels, travel accessories, apparel accessories, and more. It’s your image. It’s worth being WOV-IN®.
Promopet® is the first and only supplier in the promotional products industry to focus exclusively on pet-related products. It’s our mission to provide our customers with the very best selection of quality pet products in the industry. A few of our best sellers include pet bandannas, toys, dispensers, and bowls. Find out how Promopet® can help you unleash your potential!
FootprintsUSA® is an award-winning supplier of custom footwear, yoga and fitness gear, and marina accessories. We offer a fun assortment of flip flops for every occasion, as well as several unique product options and accessories for resorts, marinas, beaches, athletic groups, special events, and more. Make sure to leave your mark with our custom flip flops.
QCA’s Impact to the Industry
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. 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.
Creating A Culture Of Compliance
“QCA created a new mindset and higher standard for what is expected in terms of quality, safety, social and environmental compliance in the promotional product industry. By encouraging members to build their brand image and reputation in superior compliance, QCA helped us bring product safety and responsible sourcing into our everyday culture.”
“QCA Accreditation helped Hit develop the backbone of our product development, quality control, product safety and responsible sourcing programs. Be it the development of programs, processes and controls or the ongoing maintenance of those programs along with the expectations in our supply chain, this has become how Hit as a company does business.”
“Effective compliance programs require a solid foundation and leadership that values what these processes contribute to the overall business. You can’t manage what you don’t track.”
“QCA completely changed our commitment to product safety and compliance. Our participation elevated our knowledge and formalized processes, plus it brought the issues to life and made compliance real for our team members. The discipline and consistency it took to become Accredited is now a permanent and lasting part of our operations.”
“QCA enhanced our commitment to safety and compliance by giving us a tremendous masters-level course, which increased our knowledge as well as provided benchmarks and best practices. QCA gave definition and actions to our commitment, which allowed us to make significant advancements. QCA helped us learn how to live compliance and product safety every day.”
SHORTENING THE LEARNING CURVE & ACCELERATING GROWTH
“The (QCA) process caused us to give our compliance programs a hard look and challenge the status quo. It highlighted all the things the company did well yet did not hide the things that needed to be worked on. Even though it was stressful, having completed the process within the year of my joining sped up what I had set out to do and mitigated the challenges the company faced—by at least two years! We are a better company because of it.”
“When Chameleon Like started the Accreditation process five years ago, the company was half of the size it is now. As a small supplier ($5M revenue then, $10M now), it was a real undertaking. The biggest impact of becoming Accredited was that the QCA requirements led us to redesign our entire inventory management and, to some degree, our production process. By introducing traceability and quality control at all levels, it facilitated our growth, in essence minimizing the typical growing pains.”
OFFERING A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
“Most certification processes are one-way communication where existing information is either accepted or rejected. From the start of the QCA assessment process, we found QCA to be something different. Through weekly conversations our plans, policies, procedures and documents benefited from insights, comments and information that went both ways. This approach gave our company an operational and compliance blueprint that not only works now but will continue to work in the future.”
Revolutionized THE WAY BUSINESS IS DONE
“QCA has played a big part in where we are today. The gap analysis helped us discover the holes in our programs. Where we had policies and procedures in place, QCA helped us get everything documented. Where policies and procedures were missing, QCA helped us get them written and in place. Anyone can say their products are compliant, but we know that we can back up our claims with the right documentation because of QCA.”
“QCA completely changed the way we procure product. We have made a commitment to maintain these procedures as ongoing not only for us but for our vendors as well.”
“Throughout the years, QCA has proven to be a huge asset to our company. The organization has provided exceptional training and guidance, putting our company on the right path to not only social responsibility but product safety as well.”
“The QCA Accreditation process helped us codify documentation to support our practices. The value in documenting our procedures is far-reaching and has enabled us to scale and grow. The QCA Accreditation process was well worth the effort.”
“Taking the factory to this level of compliance would not have been possible without the guidance of QCA. We are a stronger company having gone through the QCA Accreditation process.”
“The biggest value PCNA realized was that QCA acted as an independent set of eyes. The audits provided us with an independent look into the effectiveness of our compliance program, highlighted areas that we could further enhance and validated the effectiveness of our current programs. The audits keep a heavy focus on the compliance program, enabling us to remain vigilant, make corrections and maintain our high level of compliance year after year.”
QCA’S LASTING LEGACY
“QCA originated out of a need within the industry to address growing product safety concerns. It was at a time when the industry had no clear standards nor any central organization to promote and drive awareness of compliance issues. QCA has permanently raised the bar on the compliance standards across the industry as well as building a supplier, distributor and end-user awareness of the importance of compliance and brand protection.”
“Because QCA took the leadership role in setting robust compliance standards, establishing an effective compliance program became the new normal and developed into a necessity in conducting business in the promotional products space.
Since laws and regulations continually change, compliance is a constantly evolving process. Yesterday’s risk may differ from today’s risk. Working with QCA elevated alphabroder’s compliance program and increased our effectiveness at minimizing risk. We will continue to benefit from this knowledge for years to come.”
“QCA’s legacy will be in the improved product safety and testing available throughout the entire promotional product industry. QCA brought promotional products companies together to elevate the best practices of our industry, allowing companies to grow and keep up with consumer demand.”
“QCA came at a pivotal moment in our history, providing the necessary guidance and framework to advance our compliance package into the 21st century. QCA was a groundbreaking effort to harmonize so many separate efforts into one cohesive compliance program that could be understood within and outside our industry.”
“QCA helped set up many companies’ supply chain responsibility programs and shape many others. This will live on as companies that were part of QCA continue to follow these principles. The best practices and guidance we received through the Accreditation Program were tremendous, and I encourage everyone to continue looking at these practices and model their own program after them.”
“QCA changed this industry and helped bring change to the leaders in product safety and compliance. It was a great bonding experience with companies that cared about saving the promotional products industry.”
“QCA has elevated the concepts of social compliance, environmental stewardship, and product safety in our industry.”
“QCA’s Accreditation Program brought compliance and safety to the forefront. It was all encompassing in its guidance—not only addressing sourcing, product development, product compliance review and product safety but also championing natural resources, the environment and reusable/recycled products, workers’ rights and codes of conduct. Without QCA, there will be a void. Those who were members can continue along the path that QCA laid out.”
QCA Webinar Archive
Top 10 Mistakes Importers Make: Q&A
Mark Tallo – Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is stepping up its efforts to ensure compliance with trade laws, regulations, and directives, including recent developments such as import tariff increases. This webinar reviews the most important, and potentially costly, mistakes importers make and demonstrates ways to either avoid them altogether or mitigate their effects.
How to Read a Test Report
Sue DeRagon – QIMA
QCA’s preferred laboratory partner reviews testing reports.
Customs Enforcement Under Trump: Q&A
Larry Ordet – Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg
The Trump administration is further tightening its import enforcement efforts in light of an ongoing trade war.
Defining Sustainability for the Promotional Products Industry
Whitney & Whitney
Key frameworks for understanding sustainability and definitions are discussed, highlighting equivalences between those frameworks and the scope of the QCA Pillars of Compliance.
Implementing the New & Strengthened CTPAT Criteria: Q&A
Lenny Feldman – Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg
CTPAT members must implement CBP’s new and strengthened minimum security criteria throughout their supply chain security programs. Discussed are specific examples and procedures for seamless implementation of the new and strengthened standards.
Challenges and Changes for Compliance in 2020
David Clifton (alphabroder) & Andy Blahnik (Gemline) w/ D. Fenton
Post-Expo 2020 Discussion w/ QCA President & QCA Compliance Chair
An Update on Regulatory Changes – US & Canada
Maria Marecki – Compliance and Risks
Federal, State / Provincial and local regulatory changes and anticipated changes reviewed.
Evolving Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability Standards
Joe Chanin (Logomark) & Matthew Hare (Hit) w/ D. Fenton
Interview with Promotional Products Industry Sustainability Officers.
Consumer Safety Through Process Control
Former CPSC Dir for Regulatory Enforcement discusses risk assessment.
Audits & Reporting: The Impact of Shifting Supply Base
D. Fenton – QCA
Management of risks associated with continued compliance in the uncertain landscape of a trade war discussed.
What’s Keeping You Up At Night in 2019
Larry Whitney (PCNA) & Andy Blahnik (Gemline) w/ D. Fenton
QCA Compliance Committee members discuss how they are managing compliance as the impact of tarrifs are felt.
The Art of the Trade Deal
Larry Ordet – Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg
U.S. importers and manufacturers are looking for ways to mitigate the impact of the 10 to 25 percent additional tariffs the U.S. has levied on tens of billions of dollars’ worth of imported goods. There are a number of proven and legitimate ways to avoid or reduce these duties that have been used for many years with great success.
Marijuana and the Promotional Products Industry
D. Fenton (QCA) w/ Nathan Cotter (Hit)
As states relax laws prohibiting the sale of Marijuana, the promotional products industry looks to support the new industry legally.
Prop 65: Addressing the New Challenges of Complying with the Amended Regulations
How to Read a Test Report (2018)
Sue DeRagon – QIMA
QCA’s preferred laboratory partner reviews testing reports.
Consumer Product Safety: Is Your Product Safety Program Adequate?
Former CPSC Dir for the Office of Compliance and Field Operations Investigations discusses elements of an effective compliance program.