BIC Graphic Meets The Challenges Of Delivering Responsibly Sourced Merchandise By Focusing On The Safety Of End Users
As one of the largest suppliers in the promotional products industry, BIC Graphic offers a comprehensive product assortment from its BIC®, KOOZIE®, Atchison®, Triumph® and JAFFA® lines plus a number of retail brands such as myCharge®, Cool Gear®, HoMedics®, Cocoon® and Leatherman®. In addition to owning five manufacturing facilities across the United States (three in Florida and two in Minnesota), the company also operates a highly strategic product sourcing operation in Hong Kong and mainland China.
In this week’s Partners In Brand Safety conversation, we chat with BIC Graphic’s Francine Dupuis, vice president of legal, and Anita Campbell, compliance specialist, about their efforts to consistently deliver brand safety across such a vast number of products and the importance of putting the customer first.
1. What does brand safety mean to you?
While BIC Graphic’s brand reputation is very important us, we first think of the brand safety of our distributors and their end-buyer customers. They pay for our products and services because they trust that we will deliver them with the highest level of quality, safety and regulatory compliance possible using a thoroughly vetted supply chain for social responsibility, security and environmental stewardship. It is all about the customer!
2. How has QCA Accreditation benefitted/improved your company?
QCA Accreditation, and our constant efforts to maintain our accreditation, provide us with a solid foundation for our quality and compliance programs. While QCA’s audit requirements are rigorous in their own right, we do not stop there. One key benefit of the QCA program is that it never ends. Once we complete one year’s audits, we begin preparing for next year’s audits.
3. Did you have any misconceptions about QCA prior to applying that were cleared up through the process?
Our initial misconception about QCA is that we would be required to follow QCA’s requirements, which might not be the same as our internal program. We learned, however, that QCA’s program is flexible to address the circumstances of each supplier. A hard goods supplier’s operations will be different from an apparel supplier’s operations. QCA tailors its program to meet yours.
4. What did you find most challenging about the process and how did you overcome/address this?
Our initial accreditation was a real challenge. It took us about ten months to prepare for and successfully complete all of the self-assessments and audits. Once completed, however, we had a set of documents, checklists and SOPs ready for the next round of audits. Preparation for our first reaccreditation was much easier and less time consuming because we had a system and learnings in place from our prior efforts. Each year we refine our system, but we will never have to rewrite it.
5. What question(s) do you wish distributors would ask you about product safety/compliance but they never do?
For many years, we have tested all of our products very comprehensively and completed corrective actions before releasing the product for mass production and sale. We believe that compliance letters have limited value if you cannot provide the test reports that back them up. We wish distributors and end users would insist upon getting comprehensive test reports before placing an order. The second half of the test report equation is reading them to make sure that all of the product’s components are tested to all applicable standards.