Stay Connected

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | January 21, 2013

CSPA members meet in Florida to join forces and leverage relationships between one another, associates and, in many instances, adversaries.

The geeks were right—the network is the solution. Creating a network of seemingly disparate groups was the overarching theme of the Consumer Specialty Product Association (CSPA) annual meeting, Dec. 3-7 in Fort Lauderdale, FL, which attracted 500 attendees.

“This association is about developing networks,” explained CSPA chairman Lisa Alexander. “It’s about the connections we make through retooling and leveraging relationships.”

CSPA’s network includes such disparate groups as the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Major League Baseball, CropLife, National Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Protection Agency, observed CSPA president Chris Cathcart, who noted that the Association’s network enables it to lead industry on a number of issues.

Keynote speaker Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity.com,
chairman of Kayak.com and managing principal of Essential Ideas.
For example, in the area of transparency, CSPA worked with EPA and its Design for the Environment (DfE) program to showcase the environmental aspects of its members’ products. At the same time, CSPA has relayed the safety of its members’ materials through its ingredient communication program, a directory that now includes more than 1,000 trade names and more than 2,000 ingredients.

In the area of chemical policy, CSPA has teamed with EDF and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families to work toward solutions. And in important areas such as Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform, the Association has good relationships with key lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. In fact, Cathcart noted that Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) called CSPA “a great partner” in TSCA reform, a subject that will soon be revisited now that the elections are over.

Elsewhere, CSPA worked with Natural Resource Defense Council, CropLife America and FarmWorker Justice to pass PRIA III legislation. The new statute extends Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA) for five years, giving industry predictable timelines and the ability to innovate and bring new jobs to market, according to the Association. Also during the past year, CSPA and the Humane Society of the United States came together over antifreeze legislation regarding the mandatory inclusion of bittering agents. CSPA made sure that proposed legislation addressed industry’s concerns.

“It is extraordinary,” said Cathcart. “We work with people and good results come out of it.”

More work remains regarding air quality issues. Members of the Air Quality Committee, along with CSPA staff members Kristin Powers, Doug Fratz and Joe Yost, are working with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to find solutions to air quality issues. SCAQMD’s 2012 Air Quality Management Plan sought to eliminate low vapor pressure compounds in the California Consumer Products Regulation and proposed further reductions of VOCs in architectural coatings, and adhesives, solvents and lubricants.

To ensure that its position was clear, CSPA worked with the Alliance for Responsible Regulation, another broad industry coalition, to oppose the four consumer product VOC reduction measures and challenge the notion that consumer product VOC and Low Vapor Pressure (LVP) reductions would contribute to ozone attainment.

CSPA’s affiliated programs also benefit by connecting with other groups. For example, the Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE) is working with Marvel Comics, Major League Baseball and the Minnesota Twins, and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) to spread the word about the dangers of inhalation abuse.

“Each of us needs to support ACE,” Cathcart challenged the audience. “It touches everyone’s lives.”
These and other networks have helped CSPA bolster its membership. In 2012, the Association added 25 new members.

CSPA chairman Lisa Alexander presents William D. Gullickson Jr. with the Charles E. Allderdice Jr. Annual Memorial Award.
“As our voice gets stronger, our presence gets greater on Capitol Hill,” Cathcart reminded the audience. “We’re strong and getting stronger every year. There will be challenges—the tension on Capitol Hill will continue. But we are an honest broker to all.”

During her opening remarks, Alexander recognized the winners of the 2012 Volunteer Recognition Awards, which honors CSPA members in each of the Association’s seven divisions for their efforts.

Division winners were:
  • Aerosol—Michael Pleus, regulatory affairs manager, Reckitt Benckiser;
  • Air Care—Dallas Stokes, VP, creative center manager, Mane;
  • Antimicrobial—Ronald Derbyshire, manager, North American biocides product maintenance, Ecolab;
  • Cleaning—Joe Scheblein, lead applications scientist, Croda;
  • Industrial & Automotive—Douglas Raymond, president, Raymond Regulatory Resources;
  • Pesticides—Steve Spalding, senior director, regulatory affairs, Central Life Sciences;
  • Polishes & Floor Maintenance—Lewis Gray, VP-R&D, Fuller Brush Co.
Turning on Innovation
Connecting with others and building a network is one thing. Using those connections and that network to innovate is quite another. Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity.com, chairman of Kayak.com and managing principal of Essential Ideas, warned attendees that they must keep up with change and find solutions to reach consumers who are more empowered than ever when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Rather than accepting what’s on store shelves, consumers are researching products, asking questions and even becoming an impart part of the product design cycle.

“Marketing is a two-way street,” explained Jones. “It has shifted the balance of power to the buyer.”
Nowhere is this more evident than in the travel business. In the 1980s, 90% of travel went through agents. Today, the internet has put travel agents out of business, noted Jones, as more than 65% of travel is booked online. The unemployment line is similarly filled with record store retailers, video store retailers and others who never reacted to the Technology Tsunami that overwhelmed their businesses and made them obsolete. How can today’s businesses thrive in this new age? By embracing change and creating a culture of innovation.

“Innovation is like baseball,” he insisted. “Even if you fail 70% of the time, you’re still doing very well.”

With that in mind, Jones urged business leaders to kill the project—not the employee—when an initiative fails. Innovative companies, he explained, allow for failure and harvest learning from it.
Corporate leaders should promote innovation through words and actions, building teams that thrive on optimism and openness, rather than playing “Devil’s Advocate,” he said Jones said effective teams should come from a blend of “suits” and “nerds” who can teach old dogs new tricks and new dogs old tricks. But once key people are put in place, the speaker said they should be left alone to make their own hiring decisions.

“Rock stars hire rock stars,” he explained.

Which is not to say that hiring should go on forever, as “big teams don’t innovate,” Jones charged. He recalled Amazon.com’s Two-Pizza Rule; i.e., if you can’t feed your team with two pizzas, it is probably too big.

And where do ideas come from? Everywhere from within organization, but especially from the ground forces that are in the trenches every day and know what customers want, need and aspire to.
“Innovation from the top down is orderly, but dumb,” he explained. “Break through the Bozone Layer; which is that layer of middle management who are afraid of change.”

The most important element, of course, is the customer. Jones set up a phone booth at his company where employees had to listen to customer complaints. In fact, consumer complaints were emailed to programmers in order to “send the pain to the people who caused the pain,” explained Jones.

Once all the data is collected, it must be analyzed and the customer (consumer) brought in to help create a solution. Jones’ ideas on innovation might make some squirm, but that’s the point.
“In real innovation, being comfortable isn’t good,” he explained.

And while he spent 99% of his presentation urging CSPA members to embrace change, Jones did offer one caveat: Beware the “Dopeler Effect;” i.e., stupid ideas that seem smarter the faster they come at you!

California Screamin’
CSPA staff and members say they are ready and willing to work with all stakeholders on a variety of difficult topics. But few issues cause more headaches for the industry than air quality in California.
During the summer, California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) issued its draft 2012 Air Quality Management Plan that seeks to eliminate the current exemption for low vapor pressure compounds in the California Consumer Product Regulation.

“We have to draw a line in the sand; this is a game-changer” said Doug Raymond, president, Raymond Regulatory Resources, during the aerosol division program. “If we lose (LVP exemption), it will make it very difficult to formulate new products.”

Raymond urged division members to throw their support behind the Association’s Air Quality Committee by getting involved and attending hearings.

To get their message heard regarding LVP, CSPA is working with the Alliance for Responsible Regulation, a broad industry coalition. ARR has challenged assertions that consumer product VOC and LVP reductions would contribute to ozone attainment.

According to research conducted by the ARR science team, most LVPs are non-volatile, explained Steve Bennett, director scientific affairs, CSPA. Those that do evaporate do not reach ambient air. In fact, according to ARR’s modeling results, most LVPs end up in the soil.

CSPA president Chris Cathcart delivers his annual state of the association address to annual meeting attendees.
CSPA and its members are also troubled by proposed regulations in product categories beside aerosols. At the antimicrobial division meeting, Teresa Moore, regulatory affairs, Procter & Gamble, thanked the Environmental Protection Agency for the September 2012 release of the 810 Product Performance Test Guidelines. According to Moore, the guides capture much of the updated science in a user-friendly format. But she called for more to clarification and guidance from EPA. Among other product categories, the 810 guides are for sanitizers and disinfectants on hard surfaces and fabrics.

Moore noted that implementation may impact product timelines and differences in the guidance could lead to changes to existing registered products. In addition, Moore said a lack of guidance on specific claims may lead to an uneven playing field.

“For example, suppose the marketing department wants to add product claims where there is no corresponding 810 guidance,” suggested Moore. “What do you do?”

Jennifer McLain, acting director, EPA antimicrobials division, provided an overview of efficacy testing modernization activities, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Test guidelines, which will be adopted in the Spring. EPA is forming a Scientific Advisory Panel and urged CSPA member companies to become active, noting that stakeholder involvement is critical to the guidelines’ success. Diane Boesenberg, manager, regulatory and government affairs, Reckitt Benckiser, provided details on how recent AOAC changes and updates to disinfection methods will impact product testing, labeling and marketing. Although she cheered the collaboration between AOAC International, CSPA and biocides panels, she worried that the new methods may lead to new label claims and ultimately, confusion on the part of the consumer.

Retailers and You
Perhaps the best example of how CSPA is expanding its network was a special session devoted to VOC compliance and how marketers, suppliers and retailers all have a role to play in this increasingly expensive issue. CSPA’s Joe Yost opened the session by noting the California Air Resources Board’s fines for consumer products have risen from $500,000 in 2005 to $3 million in 2010. Some of the most problematic product categories include windshield washer fluid, hair spray and degreasers.

“CARB casts a broad net that includes manufacturers and retailers,” he told the audience.

To help keep its members from becoming entangled in CARB’s net or any other regulator’s scheme, CSPA has developed an action plan to work with Walmart and other retailers to make sure all of its products are in compliance. A key part of that plan is the creation of a VOC Compliance Assurance Database for retailers, which is under the direction of Wercs, a software tools and service provider.

“We are not experts, but we have to make sure that our products comply with the regulations,” explained Mallory McCormick, Walmart’s senior manager of product safety and compliance. She noted that Walmart operates 4,427 units in the US and needed to find a partner to help it with all the data necessary to ensure VOC compliance.

Transparency is a key component of compliance and the Wercs’ software enables CSPA members to plug in their data, which is then provided to retailers—all without comprising any intellectual property. The software doesn’t judge whether or not a product complies with VOC regulations; it merely enables stakeholders to post and view data in a single format. Retailers that rely on Wercs’ database include Walmart, Sears and Bed, Bath and Beyond. A new improved Wercs system is debuting this month.

“We want to minimize the burden for suppliers and retailers, while ensuring accurate and reliable information,” explained Doug Fratz, CSPA. The Wercs system can handle changes as new data emerges and is applicable in all 50 states. CSPA will continue to provide input to Wercs to ensure that the information requested and provided is accurate. Later this year, CSPA will work with the Retail Industry Leaders Association to develop webinars that will assist stakeholders’ efforts to provide accurate data.

Whether it’s working with the federal government, state legislators, regulatory agencies or retailers, it’s clear that CSPA is expanding its network.