PPAI’s Product Responsibility Summit Dives Deep Into Safety, Social And Compliance Issues
PPAI’s Product Responsibility Summit, held in Bethesda, Maryland on September 28-30, wrapped Wednesday after three days of insightful and extensive product safety and compliance programming. Formerly the Product Safety Summit, over the past five years the Summit has grown into PPAI’s most well-attended education conference and the must-attend program for safety and compliance professionals at companies throughout the promotional products industry.
“We’ve come a long way over five years of Summits,” says Gene Geiger, MAS+, president of Geiger, event co-chair and chair of the Product Responsibility Action Group. “In the beginning we worked to bring awareness of the importance of product safety. Now we are diving deep into compliance and responsible sourcing with sourcing and risk management professionals. This year we added the rapidly emerging issue of corporate social responsibility to the program. Consumers and large companies are increasingly concerned that products they buy have been made in factories where worker rights and safety are respected. Attendees were given the knowledge and tools to begin to put CSR policies and procedures in place in their firms. “
Sy Ereren, president at supplier TerryTown in San Diego, California, says, “I congratulate PPAI for making this great event happen. The Summit was well organized, bringing together distinguished speakers, and distributors and suppliers who are concerned about product safety and social compliance. The seminars by UL offered a wealth of knowledge on product safety and compliance, and the binder put together by PPAI regarding social compliance is a great resource.”
The Summit’s first day featured a series of tours of the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) National Product Testing and Evaluation Center in Rockville, Maryland. Opened in 2011 and located near the Summit’s Bethesda location, the testing center houses the CPSC’s state-of-the-art testing labs and equipment, and engineering staff, and gave attendees an up-close look at the types of tests run by the CPSC and insights into what they’re looking for.
“I think PPAI did an exceptional job this year on the Product Responsibility Summit,” says Teresa Fang, director of supplier chain management at Jetline in Gaffney, South Carolina, and a Summit panelist. “I feel like the quality of the experts this year was through the roof. The content was amazing and the notebook to take home is appreciated every year. I would highly recommend this event to anyone in the industry.”
Susan Kowelman, vice president of special projects at distributor GatewayCDI, says, “Summit provided a high level of interaction with some of the top product safety experts in the U.S., including the chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The dual focus on product safety and social responsibility provided added value to those attending and presented clear road maps for organizations to follow, and the Summit was an excellent opportunity for distributors and suppliers to share ideas.”
Its second day kicked off a two-day lineup of speakers and experts only possible due to Summit’s proximity to Washington, D.C., and the regulatory bodies headquartered there. A series of presentations, panel discussions and interactive conversations explored the regulatory structures facing businesses and how to manage them and the rules they follow, best practices and strategies for mitigating risks and handling recalls, and how to establish and run social responsibility programs. Highlights were the keynote presentations delivered by CPSC Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle on Tuesday, and CPSC Chair Elliot Kaye on Wednesday.
"I am very proud of how PPAI has been a national leader in product responsibility,” says Geiger. “To that point, when CPSC Chair Elliot Kaye told us that he considers PPAI’s efforts to be the model other industries should follow. There’s a lot more to do, but we sure have made a lot of progress.”
Assessing the Summit’s accomplishments, Rick Brenner, MAS+, president of Prime Resources Corporation and co-chair of the Summit, says, “If anything was apparent at this year’s Product Responsibility Summit, it was how the compliance practices required for success in our industry at the highest level have changed drastically in just a few years and how they are continuing to evolve very quickly. A show of hands indicated that almost all of our 180+ attendees have the word ‘compliance’ in their job title. The talk among attendees was how they continue to toughen the requirements for the suppliers and factories they do business with, and the education they're providing to their coworkers. What a sea change for an industry that had almost zero compliance professionals just five years ago. Thanks to PPAI, our attendees shared best practices, were treated to guidance by senior leadership of the Consumer Products Safety Commission and tutorials from many of the most esteemed compliance and sourcing experts in the nation.”