Q:What’s the background to Made in USA Certified?
A: Many U.S. manufacturers were upset there was no regulation when it came to claiming a product was made in the USA. They complained many of their competitors were actually importing products and a large percentage of their components and then “claiming” they were made in the USA on their product and packaging.
There was no regulator or anyone checking this claim, so, these companies were able to falsely make the made in the USA claim and under price the true made in the USA manufacturers. A system was needed to help protect the truthful claims of these U.S. manufacturers from the mis-leading ones.
Q: What is your certification company’s definition of Made in USA Certified®?
A: We have a proprietary supply chain audit system we use to identify percentage of U.S. components within a product. In general, “all or virtually all of the components need to be of U.S. origin, and a product needs to be substantially transformed or manufactured here in the U.S.” Our audit process gives us a very clear view of a products supply chain.
More specifically, we have 4 basic levels of certification. The highest level is the Made in USA Certified seal (without qualification) – this is for products with 75% or more of their components of U.S. origin and is substantially transformed in the U.S.A. The next level is our “Qualified” seal – Made in USA Certified (of Domestic & Foreign Components). This seal is recommended for products with 50% – 74% of their components of U.S. origin and the product is substantially transformed in the U.S.A.
For products grown, raised or produced (like food products) we generally recommend our Product of USA Certified seal and this is truly the highest standard as we require that 100% of the components or ingredients of the product are from the U.S.A. and it is grown, raised or substantially transformed in the U.S.A.
Service in USA Certified applies to service driven businesses like call centers, accounting firms, software developers and we require that all service type functions are 100% performed here in the U.S.A.
Q: What is being certified exactly?
A: To be Made in USA Certified® means you have met our standards for making the claim “Made in USA”. It reflects you have undergone a rigorous supply chain audit verifying percentage of U.S. components as well as last place of substantial transformation.
Certified companies have proved to a third party, independent group that their claim is true and verifiable. They have shown 100% transparency with their supply chain and have rightfully earned our coveted certification to brand their products.
These companies don’t just “say” they are “Made in USA” or “Product of USA” or “Service in USA”- they have proved it to an independent third party. That is huge.
Q:What are the certifications received?
A: We have four different certifications that we grant companies. “Made in USA Certification” with or without the “Qualified Statement” for most manufactured goods. “Product of USA Certification” is for food products that are grown, raised or produced. “Service in USA Certification” is for service based businesses in the U. S., like call centers, customer support, software developers, and accounting, etc.
Q: How does a company, product, or service qualify to be certified?
A: They qualify through a full supply chain audit using our internal audit structure. Once this process is complete, our company determines if a company, product or service qualifies for our certification. Companies that qualify are issued a unique identifying number and all logos, seals and licensed wordage.
Q: What is the process to obtain certification?
A: If a company wishes to obtain certification, they first contact our company via the web and request a free, no-obligation quote on-line. This form asks a series of questions that give our company a general idea of the type of business, their size, products and number of components.
From there we are able to generate a basic quote based on the size of their company, how many products they wish to certify and the number of components required for us to audit. If the company accepts this quote and wishes to proceed, we issue initial documents that include a nondisclosure agreement and an understanding of our licensing agreement.
We also issue a request for a complete list of the company’s supply chain for each product to be certified. All this documentation is done electronically with a highly efficient digital signature and notary program.
Once our company receives all the completed documentation and payment, our team begins the process of verifying the country of origin for each component and supplier. This process can take anywhere from three hours to eight weeks depending on a variety of factors.
Q: Manufacturing logistics and resource supply can be fluid. How do you take this into account once a made in USA certification has been given?
A: We recognize these ongoing factors. We address this issue clearly in writing in our initial documentation requesting supply chain information.
Each certified company signs an agreement that if for any reason their vendors should change, it is their obligation and sole responsibility to immediately notify us with the information. If a company does not update us on a supplier change, they risk having their certification temporarily or even permanently revoked.
There is a clear understanding of this with all our certified companies from the onset, and we get this in writing. All of our certified companies have done an excellent job of keeping this information accurate and current. So far, no company’s certification has been revoked for this reason.
Q: Do companies seek out this certification?
A: Yes. Many companies are looking for government contracts and need to prove they are “made in the USA” to qualify them in the bidding process. Our certification does that.
Many companies also recognize the powerful marketing tool our seal is for their brand and product line. We lend third party instant credibility to the verification and certification of being “Made in USA”, “Product of USA”, and “Service in USA” claims.
Q: Does your company seek out U.S. products for certification?
A: Yes, our company is always looking for passionate companies that manufacture here in the U.S. with products that qualify for certification. The more products we have certified out in the marketplace, the better it is for our company, but, most importantly for our country and consumers.
Q: Why is a “Made in USA”certification important?
A: Our certification is extremely important because currently we are the only company that truly verifies country of origin for a products entire supply chain. There is no real regulation in the use of the “made in the U.S.” claim and it is very easy for anyone to slap a flag on their product or type the words “made in USA”. The consumer has no way of telling if this claim is true, they literally have to take the companies word for it.
Companies need to be aware that there are a few businesses that have popped up to ride on the “made in USA” bandwagon and now say they “certify” made in USA claims. But, our investigations have found that their application process is lax and it is simply an on-line form.
Our company actually goes in and verifies country of origin for every single component. Every supplier is contacted by our companies Audit Department. There is no other company that does this to the extent we do. But, that is why our certification is so extremely valuable. We do the work required to verify that a products claim truly is valid. We don’t just take their word for it – we take the time to actually verify it.
So much so, that we have earned a reputation in the industry as the leaders in certification for the “made in USA”, “product of USA” and “service in USA” claims, and have been endorsed by President Bill Clinton, Democratic Whip & Leader of the Make it in America agenda for the White House, Steny Hoyer along with Republican Senator, George LeMieux.
Q: What benefits do companies receive by being certified?
A: Many of our certified clients have seen tremendous growth in their businesses that they directly attribute to the fact that they are certified. Many have acquired large export contracts and other have expanded their facilities and hired many more workers.
Truly our goal is to help companies maximize their authentic “Made in USA” brand equity so, they can flourish, grow and create more jobs. We proudly stand with our member companies to 1) promote “Made in USA” products & brands 2) raise awareness of the importance of Buying American 3) advocate on behalf of U.S. manufacturers, producers and service providers.
Additionally our certification; enhances and builds brands, expands customer base, differentiates brands from their competitors, influences purchasing decisions, strengthens brands for exports and allow companies the opportunity to tell their “Made in USA” story.
Q: What benefits do consumers receive by knowing what products are certified?
A: Consumers that see the “Made in USA Certified”, “Product of USA”, or “Service in USA” seals or logos instantly know an independent, third party verified the claims to be true. This gives consumers’ a recognizable symbol to easily identify products that have been certified, and it gives them added assurance the claim is truthful.
Q: Do you believe the majority of Americans look for products and services made in the U.S. as a part of their purchasing decision?
A: Absolutely. We see it everywhere from ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, to headline news almost daily. Our unemployment numbers that have hovered over 8% the last 3 years is a constant reminder of the 2.8 million jobs that we have shipped overseas over the last decade.
Now more than ever, consumers are actively looking to buy “Made in USA”, they are checking labels and making much more conscientious consumer decisions. Buy Local movements are springing up everywhere.
Without a doubt the country of origin differentiates U.S. goods from their competition. Multiple recent studies have shown that countries of origin have an impact on the willingness of customers to buy a product.
This finding suggests that consumers have a relative preference to buy products from their own country. A survey by FIND/SVP found “83% of respondents said they would buy “Made in America” products as their first choice if given the option between goods made in the U.S. and those made abroad.”
Additionally, according to Moody’s Economy.com, if every American spent an extra $3.33 on U.S. made goods every year, it would create nearly 10,000 new jobs. So, the good feeling of buying “Made in USA”, not only supports companies to stay in business, but, it actually creates jobs. Now that is something we get really excited about.
Q: Especially in today’s world of prices increasing weekly it seems on many staples, do you believe most Americans will put aside the preference, if one, for products made in the U.S. for a lower price point for products made in other countries?
A: Now more than ever consumers see the connection between U.S. jobs and buying American. There is this false notion that if it is made in the U.S., it must be more expensive. That is just not always the case.
We believe there is a rise in “conscious consumerism” resulting in consumers making less but more thoughtful purchases. We all have seen what the flood of cheap goods has done to our jobs and our economy. We believe consumers are consciously moving away from that purchasing behavior.
The United States has always been able to compete on quality, innovation and design. There is a pride resurfacing in America and the smart companies will take this opportunity to fully capitalize on this patriotic new wave we are experiencing across the board.
Q: What impact do you see on U.S. consumers coming from the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) recent final ruling against the use of the U.S. mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL Act) on agruicultural products like meat, poultry, fruits and vegetables?
A:We have been very outspoken in regards to this final ruling and have written several articles addressing our concerns. The consensus from consumers on this is total outrage. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL Act) was a hard fought law that was only instituted in 2009.
Our strong belief is that consumers have the right to know where their products are made and the components that go into those products. We want to empower consumers to make informed, educated choices. But, we believe this is even more important when it comes to the food that we eat and provide to our families. This is a safety issue that has huge implications across the board.
That said, we see this also as a huge opportunity to become the solution provider for many companies, farmers and producers. Our Product of USA Certified seal is a non-mandatory, voluntary marketing label that can still communicate the Country of Origin to consumers.
So, while this is a deeply disturbing move by the WTO, we see this as an opportunity for Made in USA Certified to provide a solution.
Q: It is notable that the Made in USA certification would allow valuable branding and marketing for a consumer direct product. Do you work with companies that produce more industrial or non-consumer products also?
A: Our certification clearly has a valuable effect at the point of purchase with consumers; it really is a powerful marketing tool for products and companies. We do work with many industrial, non-consumer based manufacturers, and what we have seen across the board is just receiving the “Made in USA Certified” seal is not enough.
There has to be an active commitment on the part of the company to use the seals, logos and messaging as a part of their overall brand strategy. That is where we see the most benefit with all our clients. A good example of this is with our client, Aeronautica Windpower.
Aeronautica makes wind turbines domestically in the U.S. which is not a consumer product, but they will be the first to tell you our “Made in USA Certified” seal was the deciding factor on an export contract they won with the Cape Verde Islands for a $22 Million project. They are an example of a company that did not see the value at first of a “Made in USA Certification” or the seal, yet after less than six months of being certified, they were granted this huge export contract.
It should be noted Aeronautica had the seal engraved on the actual blades of their turbines. So, the moral of this story is just getting certified is not enough for anyone. Certification, marketing, and branding are not passive exercises. The certified company needs to fully embrace the marketing and branding aspect of what we do and be actively engaged in promoting it. Time and time again, we see that it pays off and pays off big time.