PPAI’s Product Responsibility Summit is taking place this week in Bethesda, Maryland. Formerly the Product Safety Summit, the highly popular event was rebranded this year to broaden its educational scope and has become the must-attend program for safety and compliance professionals at companies throughout the promotional products industry.

“For the fifth year in a row, PPAI Product Responsibility Summit is providing the industry with unprecedented access to CPSC leadership and exceptional programming from the most knowledgeable and influential product safety leaders in the nation,” says Rick Brenner, MAS+, president of Prime Resources Corporation and co-chair of the Summit. “These renowned experts come year after year because our ever-increasing attendance number demonstrates the commitment of our members to provide safe and compliance products.”

More than 170 industry professionals are registered for two days of education which includes nine sessions on the most pressing product safety issues, along with panel discussions led by industry thought-leaders and subject-matter experts, and a number of networking opportunities. On Monday, early arrivals also got an inside look at the CPSC’s product safety testing lab during one of two sold-out tours. Additionally, attendees could take part in a trio of pre-conference sessions focusing on Product Safety Aware (PSA) required courses. The conference officially opened on Monday evening with a networking dinner.

Gene Geiger, MAS+, president of Geiger, event co-chair and chair of the Product Responsibility Action Group, adds, “Recognizing we are stewards of our customers’ brands, our industry has worked impressively to preempt product safety issues. At the Summit, we’ll begin to tackle the emerging social responsibility concerns. This is the right thing to do—and very smart business.”

Not only did this year’s registrants turn out in strong numbers but they arrived with high expectations for solid takeaway value.

Joanne Molina, DARD vice president of operations and procurement, says her company is committed to supplying compliant and safe goods to its distributors. “The PPAI Summit is a great resource of information when it comes to current governmental requirements on product safety. We also want to hear from other sources about different views concerning product safety so we can make good and well-informed decisions as a company.” She adds that the company views product safety as part of the life cycle of a product. “We take this subject very seriously and it is another service that we provide to our clients and the entire marketplace.”

Cheron Coleman, director of global sourcing, corporate compliance and logistics for supplier alphabroder, acknowledges that the compliance arena is quickly changing and challenging. She is looking forward to coming together with a number of industry stakeholders to explore ideas, challenges and best practices. “I would like to come away from the Summit with an improved perspective of compliance and implemental tools to advance alphabroder’s current compliance platform,” she says.

One of the distributor attendees, George Brymer, chief creative officer for The Image Group, says he participated in last year’s program and was surprised at how few distributors there were. “Low distributor participation confirmed for me that our early commitment to product safety sets The Image Group apart from competitors. I’m interested to see more distributors attend this year, and to gauge whether distributor commitment is growing.”

Janie Gaunce, president and CEO of distributor Grapevine Designs, was excited to tour the CPSC lab, and says she wants to “… talk with suppliers about how their processes protect my customers, and share stories with other distributors about how they build product safety training and other initiatives into their organizations. This seminar is so important to our industry.”

Another distributor, Tommy Lee Lewis, VP of procurement for Bob Lilly Promotions, says he’s most interested in learning how to further protect his company and his clients. “The takeaways I seek from the Summit lead with how we can better educate our clients regarding protecting their brand, employees and clientele followed by an understanding of how to clearly communicate the specific requirement to our supplier partners.” He also would like to confirm that he is using the best and most cost-efficient testing facilities.

The Summit continues through Wednesday afternoon. Watch for more session coverage and attendee comments in Thursday’s PPB Newslink.