Tabatha Bauer, Staples; Chuck Samuels, Mintz & Levins and Carlie Watson, Health Canada share their expertise on Canada’s reporting requirements in a Monday panel discussion.

More than 160 professionals responsible for ensuring the safety and compliance of the promotional products they sell have gathered in National Harbor, Maryland, near Washington D.C., over the past few days for the PPAI Product Responsibility Summit. As the critical need for understanding how to manufacture, source, ship and sell safe products has increased in significance, the conference, now in its sixth year, has continued to broaden its scope and this year it pulled out all the stops to fill the need.

Starting Monday morning and continuing through this afternoon, attendees are taking advantage of 18 comprehensive sessions focused on key topics such as Prop 65, product recalls, lithium-ion batteries, voluntary standards, intellectual property and mitigating risk, among many other topics presented by experts from inside and outside the industry. Leading the impressive list of presenters are two commissioners from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.


Members of the PPAI Product Responsibility Advisory Group celebrate the opening of Summit.

“The world of product safety and responsibility is constantly changing, and the Summit is the only place where promotional products practitioners can come together to learn from experts and share best practices,” says Gene Geiger, MAS+, CEO of Geiger, chair of the PPAI Product Responsibility Action Group and co-chair of the Summit. “Each attendee leaves with a manual of information and best practices that is easily worth more than the cost of attending the Summit itself.”

The conference began with a networking dinner Sunday night following a full day of optional product responsibility programming.

A highlight of Monday’s programming was the luncheon address by CPSC Commissioner Robert Adler who surprised the audience by presenting an enlightening, engaging and interactive discussion on ethics.


Summit registrants gather for networking and dinner at nearby Granite City on Sunday night.

Asked afterward how he chose the topic, Adler said, “By all counts PPAI is an extremely ethical organization and your folks care a lot about this. My plea to everyone is to have a rule of thumb by which they can make ethical decisions. Ethics is not something separate and apart from our daily lives. Ethics is something that fills all the decisions we make on a daily basis. Develop a mastery of ethical decision making. You’ll be a better person because of it.”

The session resonated strongly with a number of attendees including Nicki Staats of HALO Branded Solutions. ”Who knew that ethics could be so much fun?”

Pete Gleason of CPS/Keystone was also impressed. “What I loved most about it was that it gave me a glimpse into the chairman of the CPSC and made me feel they weren’t a foe but a friend. It was a great presentation.”

Andy Nelson of Gill Studios, Inc., agrees. “It made me think about how I conduct myself,” he says.

Other Monday sessions that captivated attendees were those that discussed battery transportation issues and power banks. David Tai with TWINTECH Industries says the former was helpful in thinking through the issues. “How can we develop solutions to have a better position in transportation regulations?”


Monday night’s dine-around brought attendees together for small-group dinners and lots of smiles.

Sharon Luo of Ariel Premium Supply most appreciated the session on power banks, saying it was very informative and the speaker was very knowledgeable.

Alicia Robinson, also of Ariel Premium Supply, says she came away with two favorite sessions: the panel discussion on product safety recalls and the session on lithium-ion batteries. “I learned things I didn’t know and it answered so many questions I had.”

Long-time Summit participant Larry Whitney of PCNA and member of PRAG summed up his participation this way: “The sessions have been great but even more important is the opportunity for professionals in our industry to sit down and discuss the important issues in an informal setting.”

On Tuesday, session attendees will hear from CPSC Commissioner Joseph Mohorovic as well as Neal Cohen, former small business ombudsman for the CPSC, among other speakers.

Watch for continued coverage of the Summit in Thursday’s PPB Newslink.