In April, accredited supplier members of the Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), a coalition dedicated to ensuring accountability and independent validation of corporate responsibility throughout the promotional product industry’s supply chain, voted to wind down the organization. No new applications are being accepted and current members will continue to be supported through August 1.

The QCA cites several factors that contributed to the decision. D.E. Fenton, QCA’s executive director, says, “First, QCA has done an excellent job in educating accredited suppliers on product safety and compliance, enabling many to build and manage effective product safety and compliance programs. Second, QCA raised the awareness of product safety and compliance for the industry. Comparing today versus 12 years ago, there is substantially more information available on this topic. Many promotional products suppliers have created their own processes around product safety and compliance. This is a testament to the great work and service QCA delivered, not only to its participants but to the industry overall. Finally, industry consolidation continues to drive a reduction in the total number of supplier participants, placing additional pressure on our ability to maintain and grow QCA.”

The QCA was established in an agreement made June 6, 2008 by 14 suppliers to work together to establish industry standards. It solidified its status as an independent body on May 29, 2009, when it filed articles of incorporation for not-for-profit status.

The QCA’s standards for product safety and compliance are based upon a combination of state and national laws, international standards and industry-accepted best practices that are recognized for their strength and effectiveness. These guidelines not only addressed product safety but also product quality, social responsibility, supply chain security and environmental stewardship. While the initial QCA Supplier Accreditation Program was built 12 years ago, the organization continually updated the criteria to align with new laws and any revised standards.

To meet the needs of distributors, QCA created the Distributor Certification Program with the goal to further strengthen the supply chain and help distributors better meet the needs of their corporate clients. The Distributor Certification Program works with the Supplier Accreditation Program to support collaboration between suppliers and distributors/decorators.

Throughout the organization’s 12-year history, QCA worked with nearly 100 industry firms to help them build their compliance programs, deliver safer and more responsibly sourced merchandise and elevate the overall perception of the promotional products industry.

“QCA drove the appetite for product safety and responsible sourcing with the idea that compliance wasn’t just good business but it is good for business,” says David Clifton, chief marketing officer for QCA Accredited Supplier alphabroder and president of QCA’s Board of Directors. “This appetite fostered innovation that made companies stronger. In a way, QCA is declaring victory on a job well done and leaving the industry in a much safer and more compliant state than when the organization joined it—and that was always the mission.”