Cutter & Buck Views Every Audit Or Assessment As A Useful Opportunity To Improve Brand Safety, Not A Burden To Be Avoided

Inspired by the pioneering spirit, active lifestyle and innovative nature of its Pacific Northwest roots, Cutter & Buck designs, manufactures and distributes premium, versatile apparel that meets the demands of an active lifestyle. With an expanding line of products for the golf, collegiate and professional sports, specialty retail and corporate markets, the company’s products are available worldwide in golf pro shops, fan shops, resorts and specialty retailers as well as through premium promotional products distributors.

With this vast number of garment SKUs and numerous distribution outlets, you’d think consistently delivering safe, high-quality, socially compliant and environmentally conscientious merchandise would be challenging. Moreover, while the QCA Accreditation program is rigorous and thorough, it provides a framework that guides the company toward success.

In this week’s Partners In Brand Safety conversation, we talk with Brad Moxley, corporate business development manager, and Tam Brine, Sr., merchandise planner and compliance coordinator. Read what they had to say about how QCA Accreditation has improved Cutter & Buck, why on-site audits or internal assessments are actually useful opportunities to identify process gaps instead of a burden to be avoided and how they use this information to seek continuous and dynamic improvement.

1. What does brand safety mean to you?

Brad: Our most important resource at Cutter & Buck is our network of trusted distributors who champion our brand and sell our products on a daily basis. To us, brand safety is a commitment we make to these distributors that we will do everything in our power to ensure that their brand is never tarnished by products supplied by Cutter & Buck. For that reason, we have made QCA Accreditation a priority to ensure that we can remain committed to protecting their brand when selling our products.

2. How has QCA Accreditation benefitted/improved your company?

Brad: Becoming a QCA Accredited Supplier has given us the opportunity to provide apparel options for some of the most well-respected companies and organizations in the country, as the QCA seal assures both distributors and end users that our products will exceed their standards for product safety and compliance. It has also increased the number of large orders that we are able to bid on, as our distributors are more likely to trust Cutter & Buck with their most valuable opportunities because we are Accredited by the Quality Certification Alliance.

3. How difficult/rigorous did you find the program to be?

Tam: During the initial process of attaining QCA Accreditation, we found the program to be quite rigorous and thorough. The detailed framework included many areas we had not previously addressed, but the structure of the program and resources provided by QCA helped guide us toward that initial success. The effort required a dedicated internal working group and resulted in several new policies and procedures. The annual maintenance work is less intensive, yet continues to highlight areas for continuous improvement to our social and quality compliance practices.

4. What was the biggest lesson(s) learned about product safety, social responsibility, etc.?

Tam: Administering our QCA Accreditation has repeatedly provided an opportunity to synthesize the efforts of several different functional areas of our company into a combined picture of the good practices we have in the areas of product safety and social responsibility. Something that has become clear is that every on-site audit or internal assessment can be viewed as a useful opportunity to identify gaps in our processes instead of a burden to be avoided. The goal is not to someday reach a perfect compliance status but to seek continuous and dynamic improvement.

5. What type of company would benefit most from going through the Accreditation program?

Brad: We truly believe that every supplier in our industry would greatly benefit from achieving QCA Accreditation. During the accreditation process, we learned so much about our own supply chain that we were able to make some critical changes that will have a lasting effect on improving the quality of both our products and our operational procedures. There is no doubt that this will result in more satisfied distributor customers, who will then end up with more satisfied end users. Other suppliers will benefit from going through the same process, and I am certain that they will uncover opportunities for improvement in their own operations that they would have never seen otherwise.

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