This code shouldn’t be a secret-PPB Published:)


Guest Columnist Karie Cowden, MAS, PPAI Vice
Chair Of Program Services

This Code Shouldn’t Be A Secret

Special thanks to Eric E. Ekstrand, MAS, PPAI 2011 chair of the
board, for giving me the privilege of sharing my thoughts with members through
his column.


When I Google (yes,
it’s a verb) “product safety,” I get about 237,000,000 results in 0.24 seconds.
When I Google “ethical conduct,” I get about 4,850,000 results in 0.10 seconds.
When I Google “child labor,” I get about 18,200,000 results in 0.11 seconds.

It’s a scary world out there. It’s
a fast world too, with information and changes coming at us from all directions.
Count yourself lucky to have an amazing organization looking out for us—PPAI. As
the only international nonprofit trade association serving the promotional
products industry, PPAI is doing everything it can to ensure that we are
educated in all areas, particularly in product safety, and protected from
things that could harm us, our clients and our businesses, including

In January, your Board of Directors
approved a revised Code of Conduct as recommended by the 14-member PPAI Product
Responsibility Action Group. PPAI recommends all members adopt the code, but it
is voluntary. The code reinforces your company’s intent to follow applicable
laws, operate in a responsible manner and adhere to ethical standards for the
safety, quality and integrity of products and processes.

If your company is a distributor, the
code is tangible reassurance that you are striving to meet your buyers’
expectations in the areas of product safety and social and environmental
issues. For suppliers, the code is also a statement of your company’s
principles and a commitment to excellence.

PPAI encourages all member
companies to adopt the online code by visiting the PPAI website at Once your company has
adopted the code, you can post the PPAI Code of Conduct on your own website,
catalogs and marketing materials to let your customers know you abide by all applicable laws and strive to conduct
business in an ethical and responsible manner.

In addition, PPAI is
leveraging the Power Of Two and working with SAGE to ensure adoption of the
PPAI Code of Conduct becomes a searchable field on the SAGE website.

The code covers nine
areas: Product Safety, Abuse of Labor, Child Labor, Freedom of Association,
Discrimination, Hours and Wages, Workplace Conditions, Environment, and
Subcontractors and Sources.

What does this mean to you? As industry
practitioners, it is our responsibility to stay informed and up to date on all
laws and regulations. Take a few minutes and visit the PPAI website. Click on
Inside PPAI and check out the vast resources available to you under the Product
Safety and PPAI Law tabs. You’ll find dozens of tools, articles, resources,
on-demand webinars, guides and links to keep you informed on product safety and
responsibility and assist you with navigating the Consumer Product Safety
Improvement Act.

On August 10, PPAI will sponsor the
first Product Safety Summit in Denver, Colorado. The first of its kind for the
promotional products industry, this day-long, education-and-awareness conference will explore product safety in terms
we can all understand and, more importantly, implement. You will connect
with other supplier and distributor leaders who are actively engaged in
understanding and addressing the emerging product safety regulations at their
own companies. We’ll be joined by several experts in product safety, including
Mary Toro
, director of Regulatory Enforcement Division at the Office
of Compliance and Field Operations with the U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC). 

And, wait, there’s more. Coming this
month is PPAI’s newest tool, the PPAI TurboTest, a clever auto-fill template
that helps you find the appropriate product safety classification for the
product you are selling or recommending.

Yes, PPAI is reaching out to us
with the resources. Now, you need to do two things to help this effort. Use the
resources to educate yourself, your owners, your managers and your salespeople.
Get to know the issues and make sure the products you are selling are safe. We
are all in this together. Product safety is not something you wake up knowing,
but it’s critical in your day-to-day business, and critical to our industry’s future.

Second, support PPAI’s efforts to
reach out and educate lawmakers about our industry. Legislators don’t have a
hope of making decisions that help us if they don’t know what we do. Congress
is in recess this month—it’s the perfect time to schedule a visit with your
local member of congress before he or she heads back to Washington, D.C. They are
now in their local districts connecting with constituents and learning about
the issues important to voters. Speak up. Again, PPAI has made it easy for us
to set up a meeting. Go to
and click on “Be A Squeaky Wheel.” Then follow the prompts to identify your
representatives and go to their websites for contact info. PPAI even provides
us with a sample e-mail meeting request.

Informing our legislators is
critical to the health and welfare of our industry. Don’t assume someone else
is taking care of this for you. Be assertive and on the cutting edge of
information, educate yourself with all the tools PPAI provides and be serious
about getting results. Adopting PPAI’s Code of Conduct is a step in the right

Cowden, MAS
is president of Phoenix, Arizona-based distributor Connect the Dots Promotions,
LLC (UPIC: ctdpromo).


Follow Me!

About Karie Cowden

Karie Cowden is the Founder and President of Connect the Dots Promotions and has extensive experience working with local and national clientele across all industries. She has sold every promotional product known to mankind in her over 22 years in the industry. Karie has worked in all aspects of the promo business including a 6 year stint with the Phoenix Suns and AZ Diamondbacks. In those many years she has developed extensive experience, industry knowledge, wonderful partnerships and strategic relationships. In 2008 she was the youngest person to be voted on to the Board of Directors for the Promotional Products Association International, by her peers. In 2009 she figured she knew enough to run her own company and hasn’t looked back. Karie is married with two beautiful daughters and one black lab named Betty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *