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to define possible legislation and

industry standards that may

apply to your product. Most

importantly, it allows you to

anticipate the standards and

testing your customer may want,

and guides you on how to discuss

these with customers from an

informed position.

Know your



the brand values of your

potential customer. Does the

brand have anything to do with

the environment, health or

children? If so, chances are their

compliance requirements will be

much higher and you’ll want to

pitch them products that have

high compliance standards. Also,

consider if they have had recent

issues with products in the

marketplace, as this usually

affects their risk tolerance.

Set a compliance


Take stock of

your bigger customers and make

sure your standard testing policy

is up to their expectations.

Testing to the legal minimum

should be the starting point and

helps ensure you aren’t

introducing regulatory risk to

your customer’s supply chain. A

few years ago the “legal

minimum” would satisfy most

customers, but this is rapidly

changing. Many industry

standards are now considered a

minimum requirement even if

not legislated. On top of that,

compliance to many laws, such

as California’s Proposition 65 and

Illinois’ Lead Poisoning

Prevention Act, can be tackled in

different ways.

Segment your

product line.


strategy that many companies

have adopted is to split up your

product offering based on

compliance. For example, if you

have a big-brand customer that

treats everything as though it’s a

children’s item, it may be worth it

to test a larger portion of your

product line to the CPSIA

standard to capture more

business. Another tactic is to

provide Proposition 65

protection to a line of products

for those customers that ship to

California but don’t like to apply

a warning label.

Scrutinize your

lab proposals.

It’s as

important to know when to say

“no” as it is to say “yes.” Many

labs may blur the line between

testing that is mandatory and just

a best practice. You might end up

with a Cadillac testing plan when

all you need is one suited to a

Kia. Make sure you get an

itemized list of each test method

and understand what law or

industry standard it is designed

to meet. This will help keep costs

down as your testing activities

become more complex.

Guide your


Often client

companies have a compliance

standard that they don’t really

understand. In some cases,

they’ll appreciate some pushback

and updates if there is good

reason to do so. In many cases

this can help save on testing costs

as well as widen the types of

products they can include in

their program. In the end, you

may be able to lead your

customers to a different place

from where they started, as well

as giving you an opportunity

to impress.

Consider screening


Having quick, in-house testing

technologies can give a company

a way to quickly prove that their

products are safe. In some cases,

when a customer has a

compliance requirement not

based on legislation, a quick scan

by an XRF analyzer or portable

FTIR testing equipment may be

enough to satisfy the

requirement without the need for

expensive and time-consuming

third-party testing.

Over time you may develop

compliance strategies for each

customer and end up with a

complex web of requirements.

And we haven’t even discussed

social compliance yet, which

also brings another level of

audit formats, documentation

and expectations.

In the end, we may be

setting up small, separate

supply chains for each major

customer that produces

products to specific standards.

To do that well, a company

needs in-house compliance

expertise, close factory

partners and a culture of

transparency. Companies that

are successful at this should

be well positioned for the next

five years as the promotional

products industry evolves.

Josh Kasteler is director of product

integrity at distributor BAMKO.

Reach himat

It’s as important

to know when

to say “no” as it

is to say “yes.”

Many labs may

blur the line

between testing

that is mandatory

and just a

best practice.