More and more organizations are implementing corporate responsibility programs into the products and services they offer—and these same stringent compliance standards are becoming mandatory for any branded merchandise used to support their brands. In order to continue meeting buyer demands for brand safety and responsible sourcing, Woodinville, Washington-based Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, LLC (BDA) has applied to participate in the QCA Distributor Certification Program.
Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), the only coalition dedicated to ensuring accountability and independent validation of corporate responsibility throughout the promotional product industry’s supply chain, launched the Certification Program at the end of July, and BDA was one of the first companies to immediately apply.
“Our clients come to us because we provide the best and most reliable product from inception to production, and the independent and authoritative voice of QCA is instrumental in communicating this standard with our clients,” says Jay Deutsch, BDA CEO and co-founder. “Going through the QCA Certification process has provided yet another opportunity to closely examine every detail and ensure every step in our processes is outlined, understood and rightfully executed. By examining our procedures with a new lens, we can continue to adapt and meet our clients’ needs.”
QCA Certification: Why The Time Is Right
Global brands such as AT&T, Bank of America, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, ExxonMobil, FedEx and Major League Baseball are but a few of the household names that rely on BDA to bring their marketing campaigns to life through merchandise. With this kind of clientele, BDA has had to be at the forefront of product safety and responsible sourcing because these firms take no chances with their brand equity.
“When a client chooses BDA as their brand partner, they are trusting us to offer the best products at a great value,” Jay explains. “Before QCA was founded, there wasn’t much focus on product safety in the promotional product industry. As an independent organization, QCA is able to validate a company’s policies and processes, which guarantees systems are in place to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from entering the supply chain. With BDA’s commitment to leading best practices in all facets of the industry, obtaining QCA Certification aligns seamlessly with our values and we’re excited to be among the first distributors to apply for certification.”
Beginning The Process
Built upon the existing Advocacy Council, the Certification Program is designed specifically for the needs of distributors and decorators, allowing them to further their commitment to brand safety and responsible sourcing. Thus, BDA will begin the process by completing a thorough self-assessment, which includes a gap analysis to identify process and procedure voids and requires supporting documentation for review by the QCA Compliance Committee.
From there, the company will build upon the self-assessment by developing a comprehensive compliance manual that ensures it has an effective program for detecting and deferring unsafe or non-compliant product before it enters into the supply chain. Upon successful completion of this process, a series of audits are authorized for the company’s headquarters, where corrective action may be required before Certification is granted.
“While we have a strong understanding of product safety, we are hoping to gain additional insights into our preparation processes by participating in the QCA Certification process,” Jay says. “Achieving QCA Certification will validate our efforts to stay true to our values as a company by ensuring safe, high-quality, socially compliant and environmentally responsible merchandise for every client.”
Saving Time—And Money
There’s talk throughout the promotional products industry that having a comprehensive compliance program is too time consuming and expensive. While there is a time and financial investment, having an independently verified compliance program can actually save time and money—and help distributors compete for more lucrative opportunities.
“Participating with QCA has saved time and money when working with one particular client because it expedited the process of verifying our company’s policies and procedures,” Jay says. “Without our forthcoming QCA Certification, clients would have to spend time to verify the quality of our processes and service offerings (i.e proper working conditions, production that is environmentally friendly and compliant with product safety, etc). As a result of our QCA participation, this Fortune 100 company was able to confidently trust us, our products and our commitment to upholding ethical and sustainable standards.”
At the end of the day, one of the main reasons companies such as BDA devote resources to becoming QCA Certified is to instill confidence that promotional products are a safe, legitimate advertising medium that has true branding power for end buyers’ promotional campaigns.
“There is only value to be added to your overall business by participating in the QCA Certification program,” Jay says. “For sustainable growth, every company should be making ethical decisions. As the industry demands more transparency in every stage of a product’s life cycle, the accountability no longer falls just on suppliers. By having checks and balances throughout the entire process, customers are assured they are buying from a company that values them and embraces safe and sustainable practices. As BDA expands its presence globally, we will continue to operate in the best interest of our clients, ensuring that both supply and distribution are held to the highest ethical and environmental standards.”