Founding an Independent Accreditation Organization
The Quality Certification Alliance (QCA) grew out of multiple roundtables, in July of 2008, where promotional products industry thought leaders were discussing the growing number of social responsibility concerns, product safety issues and related recalls associated with goods primarily being manufactured in China. These discussions centered on two main issues:
- The absence of a standard for compliance and product safety within the promotional products industry
- The potential risk that product safety issues and recalls from foreign manufacturers can damage not only end-buyer/consumer brands but also the reputation of the industry as a whole
Recognizing that any credible standards must come from within the industry, these forward-looking companies decided to create and fund an independent, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to elevate the standards by which industry firms that import and/or manufacture promotional products provide consistently safe, high-quality, socially compliant and environmentally conscientious merchandise.
The founders developed a comprehensive industry standard based upon a combination of state and national laws, international standards and industry-accepted best practices that are recognized for their strength and effectiveness. Additionally, they built in non-biased validation through required independent third-party audits that confirm the compliance programs are in place and have the ability to detect and deter unsafe or non-compliant products.
The result is an all-inclusive program that keeps inferior goods from entering the U.S. marketplace and mitigates risk not only to end-buyer brand equity but also end-user client health. Today, QCA continues to provide ongoing education for manufacturers, distributors and their clients on compliance programs, state and federal requirements, and the need for organizations to further develop their supply chains in the promotional products industry.
In May 2012, the QCA Distributor Advocacy Council (DAC) Charter was created to formalize the relationship the organization has with distributors who understand the value compliance programs have in building stronger relationships with suppliers, creating competitive advantage in the marketplace and building loyalty with their end-buyer clients.
In an effort to more fully meet the demands of a changing industry, in January of 2019, QCA added a Certification Program for promotional products industry distributors and decorators, and an Affiliate level category for end-buyers (the users of branded merchandise).
Why the Founders Got Involved
“This trend will only continue to grow, and suppliers with the proper business practices and procedures in place to meet and/or exceed these requirements will be the companies distributors and their end buyers choose for promotional purchases. QCA provides the tools required to help companies put the necessary processes in place."
“QCA accreditation helps members design processes and procedures to insure their products meet appropriate standards today and in the future. Accreditation gives end buyers the ability to purchase with confidence as it relates to quality and compliance. This kind of initiative is good for the industry, member companies and our customers.”
“We’ve seen too many cases in the promotional products industry where product safety is compromised for cost or time savings, and it must stop now. It is our hope that QCA accreditation will be the first major step in creating a sea change in the industry and holding companies accountable for the products that end up in consumers’ lives. Product safety is of paramount importance to BDA and we salute QCA and the member companies for taking a stand and making a difference.”
“Companies that successfully complete the process will find themselves among a select group of suppliers that can offer safer product and peace of mind. They will improve operations, gain efficiencies and solidify competitive advantage. This isn’t just a company saying it headquarters’ practices are safe. Instead, the company goes through an exhaustive and complete process to confirm those safe practices.”