Taking the Lead

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | January 1, 2014

As the Consumer Specialty Products Association celebrates its centennial, it gives a nod to the important role that strong leadership plays in the Association.

There’s only one Father of the US, only one Great Emancipator, only one commander of Operation Overlord. But the same skills possessed by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Dwight D. Eisenhower have applications in business, noted speakers at the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, FL last month. Besides bringing together the leaders of the specialty products industry, as well as past recipients of the prestigious Allderdice Award, the event also served to kickoff the Association’s yearlong celebration of its 100th Anniversary. At this event, the Association looked back on CSPA’s past. The the midyear meeting will focus on the present and the 2014 CSPA Annual Meeting will look at the future of the association.

But, past, present or future, a common denominator is getting things done, according to Bob Scharf, chairman, CSPA.
“The work that this group does isn’t often recognized until years later,” he noted. “CSPA gets things done, working with other groups often behind the scenes.”

Several of those workhorses were recognized for their efforts with the CSPA Volunteer Recognition Award. Honorees included:
  • Aerosol Division: Scott Smith, Procter & Gamble;
  • Air Care Division: Diane Welling, Procter & Gamble;
  • Antimicrobial Division: Artie Lawyer, Technology Sciences Group;
  • Cleaning Products Division: Jackie Pytel, Stepan;
  • Industrial & Automotive Products Division: Ed Piszynski, Chicago Aerosol;
  • Pest Management Products Division: Rob Stewart, Technology Sciences Group; and
  • Polishes & Floor Maintenance Division: Jamey Gaston, Omnova Solutions.
The Chairman’s Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to Mark Cohen of NCH and Rick Kingston of SafetyCall International. Finally, the Association’s greatest honor, the Charles E. Allderdice Award, was presented to John G. Wood of Ecolab.

“I am honored to receive this award. CSPA is a great organization,” said Wood, who has served the Association in a number of positions within the antimicrobial division. “We are faced with onerous regulations and are making lemonade out of lemons.”

Leadership Personified
For Chris Cathcart, president, CSPA, Dwight Eisenhower personified true leadership. As Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Western Europe, Eisenhower had the final decision on whether to send 160,000 troops on the assault. The day prior to the assault, June 5, he gave the orders to proceed. But that same day, he also wrote a letter exonerating everyone else attached to the operation if it failed.

“It is character and leadership that you own the decisions that you make,” observed Cathcart.

And while it may not have been quite the same as building a coalition of US, British and Canadian troops for the Invasion of Normandy, CSPA has worked with disparate groups on a number of critical issues such as reform of Toxic Substances and Control Act (TSCA). CSPA worked to update TSCA that would support a risk-based EPA regulatory framework to ensure protection of confidential business information, and support innovation and growth.

“Senior Democratic Senators thought our work was so good that they ultimately supported it,” recalled Cathcart. (For a different view of the Bill, see the NRDC response in this article).

On the state level, CSPA has been very active in California, working with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on air quality and with stakeholders on Green Chemistry issues. The Association was so effective that Gov. Jerry Brown commended CSPA for its efforts.

Effective leadership on critical issues has made the association popular to industry companies. During 2013, CSPA added 23 new members, founded two new PIR groups and operated 30 websites where consumers, members and media visit to get the CSPA message.

“We own our decisions and our actions,” Cathcart reminded the audience, which is why CSPA formed the Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE), a number of years ago, to fight the misuse of its products.  In recent years, ACE has formed effective alliances with Marvel Comics, Major League Baseball and other groups to fight product misuse, which Cathcart called a “generational issue.”

“I urge you to support this program,” he said. “We know how to use our products safely.

Author Michael Beschloss closed the business meeting with a look at some of the unique personalities in the Oval Office.

Product Care: Not Just a Program, It’s Policy
The industry’s stewardship program, Product Care, moved front and center at the annual meeting when Cathcart announced it would expand to include all membership and become a cornerstone of the Association’s Mission Statement, which now includes the line: “Fostering best practices through Product Care to maximize the safety and sustainability of our members’ products and services.”

According to Cathcart, “Product Care is the manifestation of our stewardship to this industry and to the public.”

Moreover, Product Care will be a cornerstone on how the Association moves forward regarding regulations by retailers.

At a special session, incoming CSPA chairman Paul Siracusa and Cathcart explained to attendees the new role that Product Care plays in the Association. Basically, CSPA has taken a standalone program and put it into its mission statement for three reasons:
  • Unify membership around Product Care;
  • Recognize what the industry is already accomplishing; and
  • Strengthen advocacy.

“The industry already stands for everything in Product Care,” explained Cathcart. “Now we can represent the industry even better.”
Siracusa echoed those remarks, noting that his company, Church & Dwight, “spends an absolute fortune to make sure our products are safe and effective. Our suppliers spend a fortune to make sure the chemicals we use are safe and effective, yet we walk around with our heads down! I have a lot of passion for Product Care,” he added. “I don’t want to be on the defensive!”

CSPA’s mission has been updated to include—CSPA is the premier association representing the household and institutional products industry, by providing exceptional member values by engaging the membership in:
  • Fostering best practices through Product Care to maximize the safety and sustainability of our members’ products and services;
  • Offering education and training initiatives for our members and other stakeholders that build confidence and increase awareness of our products and services;
  • Influencing and proactively addressing legislative and regulatory challenges at state, federal and international levels; and
  • Providing business-to-business opportunities.
Product Care, according to Association leadership, dovetails with CSPA’s statement of values for its products and services:
  • We strive to continually improve and promote our efforts to protect our employees, our customers, the community and the environment;
  • We seek and value public comment regarding our products and services;
  • We encourage consumers and our customers to partner with us by promoting safe and responsible use of our products and services;
  • We promote our values to our suppliers and other business partners;
  • We strive to be transparent and provide information on safe and effective use of our products;
  • We manage the health and environmental risks of our products while encouraging their disposal in a safe and appropriate manner;
  • We seek collaboration with governments, NGOs and other stakeholders in the ongoing review and development of responsible laws, regulations and industry practices; and
  • We are committed to working in partnership with government and other stakeholders to encourage sustainability and product stewardship practices to benefit the environment and the economy.
“Product Care’s mission is to help each other become even better product stewards for our industry,” explained Cathcart.
There are three levels to the Product Care plan. At its most basic, Stage I, every member of CSPA is now already a member of Product Care. There is no formal work plan that a company must complete; rather, the company simply endorses the Product Care principles when it joins CSPA.

Stage II is Product Care Steward. All members can, and are encouraged to, become Product Care Stewards by performing self-assessment or via reciprocity with existing stewardship programs. Similar to the existing program, there will be an emphasis on sharing Best Practices. There will also be improved pathways to Product Care for the primary business of the company, whether it is a consumer product formulator, I&I formulator, supplier, service provider and even consultants or law firms. All paths have steps or requirements that lead to becoming a Product Care Steward. A company’s Product Care program remains self-defined and the company evaluates its own progress via self-audits. In addition, companies participating in other comparable stewardship programs can meet the requirements of Product Care via reciprocity. At this level, members must sign a commitment agreement, attend training and conduct self-assessment. All CSPA board and division board members must be at Stage II, unless division board membership predates the program. The requirements for the final stage, Stage III, are still being finalized.

Priority Issues
Product Care shows regulators, NGOs and other interested parties the steps CSPA members take to ensure the safety and integrity of their products and their companies. But sometimes, it’s not enough to show stakeholders—sometimes you have to tell them too. CSPA has a robust regulatory department, which in 2013 made key advances on several issues including FIFRA and PRIA, TSCA, clean air and ingredient disclosure. At a special priority issues update, CSPA staff members, regulators and stakeholders brought their disparate views to special session designed to bring meeting attendees up-to-speed on what happened in 2013.

For example, regarding the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, as well as the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act Steven P. Bradbury, director, EPA Office of Pesticide Programs, noted that after meeting with the new EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the Agency was to be transparent to the consumer and is building its work on three pillars: sound science, rule of law and transparency.

“To ensure safety for humans and the environment, we want to partner with all stakeholders,” he told attendees. For now, EPA is focusing on new product evaluations, working with Canada to go “paperless;” and working with the FDA.

Regarding the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), while the Lautenberg-Vitter reform bill was praised as an example that bipartisanship is still alive in Washington, DC, not all stakeholders said they were pleased with the bill, which remains mired in Congress and has yet to come up for a vote. Daniel Rosenberg of the National Resources Defense Council called TSCA “broken” and insisted that it hasn’t worked well since its debut in 1976. He called TSCA the “greatest failure of the environmental laws of the 1970s.”

“People don’t think there is a credible national program, which is why we have state by state regulations and retailers’ programs,” he told the audience. “We need a strong Federal program, a credible Federal program and we can work together to achieve it.”

While industry hailed the proposed TSCA reform bill, Rosenberg condemned it, noting that while the bill calls for EPA to review all chemicals, there is no deadline for the Agency to complete its review, no money to fund the review and no extra protection for vulnerable populations such as pregnant women.

“There are an enormous amount of hoops and hurdles that EPA must go through,” he insisted. “It could take five to seven years for EPA to actually do anything.”

On issues of clean air, while the air in the US has been cleaner than its ever been since the 1980s, more work remains, according to Ali Mirzakhalili, director of division air quality, Delaware DNREC. Just last month, for example, eight downwind states, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, asked EPA to add Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia to the Ozone Transport Regions.

For more on the CSPA annual meeting, visit www.Happi.com