PPAI’s Product Responsibility Summit is less than a month away and coming to Alexandria, Virginia, October 8-10.

Each year, promo companies send representatives to the Product Responsibility Summit to ensure that they are aware of any new compliance regulations and how the industry can stay ahead of guidelines. Leaders at PPAI 100 companies like Koozie Group, alphabroder and Geiger say that the event has become a must-attend for any promo companies trying to navigate compliance regulations in the industry.

The “Growth” of Product Safety

When marking the elevated priority status of product safety in the promotional products industry, look no further than Pierre Montaubin of Koozie Group. In January, he was named the company’s first chief product and sustainability officer. Then, in August, Koozie Group promoted Montaubin to the role of CEO, making him the first major supplier CEO to be elevated from such a role.

  • Montaubin is a member of PPAI’s Product Responsibility Advisory Group (PRAG).

“Simply put, the ‘product safety arena’ has grown,” says Montaubin. “From a historical perspective, product safety used to solely focus on the products themselves; making sure the product is safe and nontoxic.”

  • Those product safety concerns evolved to include factory safety and employee health.
  • These new measures increased the prevalence of audits in the promo industry.

“Those audits eventually included questions about corporate responsibility and sustainability – which has certainly grown in relevance in recent years – thus falling under our purview,” Montaubin says. “While I don’t necessarily know what’s next, I know the growth will not stop here.”

  • More than most trends and topics in the industry, compliance regulations shift regularly and quickly.
  • And unlike many of those trends, getting caught being anything less than up-to-date on compliance developments means more than just falling behind; it can mean enforced consequences.
  • That’s why the educational content at Product Responsibility Summit is so important in informing promotional products professionals about compliance.

“[Product Responsibility Summit] provides valuable information on emerging trends and challenges to help people stay up to date, which is particularly important when there are regulatory requirements that are ever changing,” says Teresa Fang, VP of supply chain at alphabroder and another PRAG member.

David Geiger, vice president and general counsel at Geiger and a member of PRAG, agrees that Summit is the driving force to keep the industry educated on compliance. 

“It is essential for companies to keep up pace with today’s increasingly more complicated compliance and responsibility standards in order to safeguard their company’s reputation and sustaining long-term success,” Geiger says. “That’s why I would urge and invite my fellow industry professionals to the upcoming Product Responsibility Summit.”

Rick Brenner, MAS+, president of Product Safety Advisors and co-chair of the event since 2011, will be participating in panels on recall readiness and foreseeable use/misuse of products.

“Products can easily be compliant but not safe,” Brenner says. “Foreseeable use/misuse is a nuanced look at products from the perspective of how a product is intended to be used, how it could potentially be used in a way not intended by its manufacturer but predictable based on human behavior. Congress has held that companies are liable for injuries resulting from foreseeable misuse.”

With over 20 expert speakers scheduled for the event, a few of the topics that will be discussed include:

  • Surviving an FDA inspection.
  • Implementing a recall.
  • FTC green guidelines.
  • Carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates.

For the second straight year, the event will hold a day dedicated entirely to sustainability education.

Responsibility Networking

Staying up to date on compliance developments means having to process a lot of information – some of it often dense reading for even the well-informed. That makes it a huge benefit to be able to come to the Product Responsibility Summit where that information is condensed to some of its most crucial aspects by experts who know how to put it in plain English.

“Summit plays an important role by facilitating information sharing, networking, and the exchange of best practices,” says Fang. “Companies of all shapes and sizes are able to walk away with actionable information that can lead to the improvement of their compliance programs.”

  • There’s also plenty to be gleaned from being around industry peers who have navigated similar waters and might have tips based on their experiences.

“It’s 2023 and hybrid work seems here to stay,” Montaubin says. “Getting facetime with others in any industry is so valuable! It’s so much easier for me to casually ask a question at a happy hour or dinner than it is for me to draft an email, wait a few days for a response, and then move on.”

Geigers says the full schedule was designed to have an effective balance between education and best practices-focused networking. 

“At this conference, we’ll engage with subject matter experts, thought leaders and fellow industry professionals to share best practices and case studies to help companies proactively address compliance issues and product responsibility concerns,” says Geiger.  “Whether you’re concerned about product safety, new sourcing regulations or seeking guidance pertaining to sustainability, this event will empower you to align your business practices with the highest ethical and legal standards.


Summit will be held at the Westin Alexandria Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia.

Visit PPAI’s education page to register for Summit.

  • The first speaker will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, October 8.
  • The conference will wrap up at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 10.