The Quality Certification Alliance (QCA) has introduced a certification program for distributors and apparel decorators. The program builds on QCA’s Advocacy Council and allows distributors and decorators to further their commitment to brand safety and responsible sourcing.

“Today, large companies are interested in vendors who not only understand the importance of safety and compliance but also insist on it as it relates to every component of the manufacturing and import process,” says Tim Brown, MAS, QCA’s executive director of operations. “Certification allows distributor and decorator companies to take the next step toward greater, more lucrative opportunities by working with larger companies because they not only understand the issues, but also have third‐party verification of the processes and documentation necessary to meet these buyers’ demands.”

The QCA Compliance Certification Program begins with companies completing a thorough self-assessment, including a gap analysis to identify process and procedure issues, and requires supporting documentation for review by the QCA Compliance Committee. From there, they develop a comprehensive compliance manual that ensures they have an effective program for detecting and deferring unsafe or non-compliant product before it enters the supply chain. Upon successful completion of this process, a series of audits are authorized for the company’s headquarters, where corrective action may be required before certification is granted.

QCA’s Certification Program is completely separate from its accreditation program for promotional products suppliers, and the organization stresses that it is in no way intended as a means for distributors or decorators to go-direct with their sourcing or circumvent the traditional supply chain. The program is designed to work in conjunction with the accreditation program and strengthen relationships between suppliers, distributors and decorators.

“Being accountable doesn’t only rest on the shoulders of suppliers,” says Brown. “Our industry is about partnership, and distributors/decorators share in the responsibility of providing safe and responsibly sourced products. We created the Certification Program because of industry demand and look forward to not only offering greater assurance and peace of mind to corporate brands but also to improve the industry’s reputation. The level of accountability and transparency required to achieve certification will help the industry get past the ‘trinkets and trash’ image of old and prove that promotional products are a valid, respected advertising medium that gets results.”