PPAI Summit Wraps Up Another Exceptional Learning Experience
PPAI’s ninth annual Product Responsibility Summit concluded Tuesday afternoon in Alexandria, Virginia, after two full days of industry-specific education focused on the issues and challenges of manufacturing, sourcing, shipping and selling safe products. This year’s conference, held September 15-17, drew almost 170 professionals from companies across the industry who came to take part in the keynotes, roundtables and panel discussions designed to deliver education, answer their questions and send them home with valuable information to improve their processes and businesses.
“This was my fifth time attending and I always wonder before I attend, if it is going to be worth the time and money spent to be there. However once again, I left there with plenty of information that was relevant and valuable,” says Rachel Noland, compliance coordinator for distributor Goldner Associates in Nashville, Tennessee. “It was definitely worth it, and I have felt that way every time.” There were many elements of this year’s programming that she found valuable. “The panel discussion about the struggles facing compliance officers was really great. The end-buyer panel was a great session as well—I enjoy hearing from the end users about their programs and their expectations. While Prop 65 has been discussed many times, I really liked that session and felt the speaker did a wonderful job giving everyone a clear picture of what has been happening with Prop 65 and where the trends are. Lastly, the roundtable discussions are always great as well. It’s nice to have a few minutes to discuss freely about a topic with a group of people who have different perspectives on the same issues you face.”
Terry Brizz, MAS, president of supplier Galaxy Balloons, Inc., in Cleveland, Ohio, says Summit was exceptional on many levels. “The content of the seminars was excellent (CPSIA basics, Prop 65, social responsibility, sourcing beyond China, intellectual property, tariffs, etc.). I came home with over five pages of notes and follow-ups. The presenters of the different topics and the panelists were very good. To have CPSC Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle talk to our group was wonderful. The networking opportunities with fellow suppliers, distributors and professionals was very insightful and fun. PPAI did a great job with this Summit.”
Becky Thesing, vendor relations coordinator at distributor American Solutions for Business in Glenwood, Minnesota, plans to pass on the information she learned this week to ASB associates and home office teams. “One of my main takeaways this year was how compliancy protects the brand standards for our end users as well as American Solutions for Business. Once we start sharing more information with our ASB associates, they can share how important it is to their end users and why we need to do what we do.”
In addition to a dozen education sessions on topics from Prop 65 and modern slavery to button cell batteries and sourcing beyond China, attendees were treated to keynote presentations from CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle and newly elected CPSC Vice Chair Robert Adler. They also received a comprehensive workbook, Corporate Responsibility In The Age of Uncertainty.
“I’m really proud of the work being done by our Association,” says longtime Summit participant Debbie Abergel, chief strategy officer for distributor Jack Nadel International in Los Angeles, California. “The workbook was so well done—easy to understand and so on target for our industry. The sessions were great—not too much info where you feel your head would burst. The speakers really understood our challenges and networking with the industry compliance professionals was great.”
Eva Ji, sourcing and compliance coordinator at supplier Terry Town in San Diego, California, says she was glad to have attended. “PPAI Summit was so educational and helped me learn how to apply the standards. It was also a good networking opportunity to meet people in the promotional field.”
Scott Denny, vice president sales and marketing for supplier Garyline in Bronx, New York, attends Summit every year and thought the session on button cell batteries was especially insightful. “What can go wrong and how we can anticipate it and prevent it—that’s why we go to the conference.” He also found value in networking with other attendees at breaks, meals and during the roundtable session. “If you put people together, they’ll learn something from the others,” he says.
JP Stratton, director of merchandising and vendor relations at Bel USA in Medley, Florida, has been responsible for product testing and compliance for two years. Compared to many others at Summit, he says he’s a rookie, but the content at this year’s program was spot on. “When the inevitable questions about Prop 65 or product testing protocols arise, I still have to take a deep breath and let the anxiety fall away. I still do not think of myself as the compliance guy at our company, but I have learned that I know more than I give myself credit for. The Summit and the people who attend, like Rick Brenner (he’s my go-to), are the key contributors to that knowledge. There were a bunch of key takeaways as well, but one of the biggest, which was my favorite session and the most eye-opening, was on plastics and how the benefits are being outweighed by the end-life waste of the products.
“The other key takeaway is just how passionate this industry is about improving compliance and safety—from the first-timers who are taking in as much information as possible, to veterans who have been to all nine Summits and want to share their learnings with the rest of the group. For those couple days, it is not about the market share competition, it’s about creating an industry that customers can count on being as safe and responsible as possible.”
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Listen to what these attendees say about this year’s conference: