What led to the formation of CERTIFIED INC.?
After MADE in USA CERTIFIED identified the need for an independent third party source for certification of country of origin claims, the FTC and other Federal and state agencies started to prosecute companies that either erroneously or falsely claimed that their products and services were "Made in USA". That led to millions of dollars in fines and the closing of several branding firms that distributed labels without audit or other investigation of the claim. But just as importantly, firms outside the US were having similar problems, as well as a rampant counterfeit market that cost manufacturers millions monthly in lost sales.
CERTIFIED, INC. stepped in and acquired MADE in USA CERTIFIED and started the necessary steps to enhance the efficiency of the certification process so as to accommodate millions of customers nationally and internationally, and to create a tracking system that could capture the shopping habits of consumers worldwide. In this way, consumers could see if what they were buying was genuine, and manufacturers could learn WHO specifically is shopping for their products, their ages and location, and WHERE they are shopping.Given the technical expertise of the Founder, a technology was born and a app was created working with world class programmers, while working with technology companies like IBM and Google over their respected Cloud infrastructure, one day CERTIFIED will have world's largest database of consumer shopping habits.
Are there other companies that do the same certification as CERTIFIED and Made in USA Certified®?
There were initially a few businesses that attempted to offer "Made in USA" branding simply by selling labels and flags to manufacturers and retailers but the FTC and lawsuits, coupled with huge fines did away with all that tried to bend the rules and act dishonestly with consumers with "self-certification" and outright falsehood.
Now only CERTIFIED and its MADE in USA CERTIFIED® brand remain along with CERTIFIED Seals in multiple countries around the world. CERTIFIED is now the only company that does a full supply chain audit---so much so, that we have earned a reputation in the industry as the leader in certification for the "Made in USA", "Product of USA" and "Service in USA" claims. We have been endorsed by President Bill Clinton in his book "Back to Work", and by Democratic Whip & Leader of the Make it in America agenda for the White House, Steny Hoyer, along with Republican Senator,George LeMieux and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
Manufacturing logistics and resource supply can be fluid. How do you take this into account once a CERTIFIED Seal has been given?
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. CERTIFIED also sends a monthly email to each client proactively asking if any part of the supply chain has changed.
Do companies seek out this certification?
Yes. Many companies are looking for independent verification for government contracts and need to prove they are "made in the COUNTRY" to qualify them in the bidding process. 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 COUNTRY", "Product of COUNTRY", and "Service in COUNTRY" claims. This sets their product or service apart from their competition giving consumers another reason to choose them.
How does one become Made in USA Certified®?
We have a proprietary supply chain audit system we use to identify the percentage of U.S. components value, within a product, and the last place of substantial transformation. We also evaluate the cost of direct labor and the cost of direct manufacturing overhead.
What are the various Made in USA Certified® seals?
To help ensure transparency and clarification for consumers wanting to purchase “Made in USA” products; Made in USA Certified now offers (4) distinct seals available to manufacturers. The Product of USA Certified Seal, Grown in USA Certified Seal require 100% U.S.content. “Product of USA Certification” is for food products that are grown, raised or produced. The Service in USA Certified Seal requires 100% of the labor force be in the United States of America. “Service in USA Certification” is for service based businesses in the U.S. like call centers, customer support, software developers, accounting, etc. Companies that qualify are issued a unique identifying number for more complete traceability.
What benefits do companies receive by being certified?
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 and 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.
What benefits do consumers receive by knowing what products are certified?
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.
What is the process to obtain certification?
If a company wishes to obtain certification, they first contact our company via the web and request a free, no-obligation quote online. This form asks a short series of questions that give our company a general idea of the type of business, their size,products and number of components. We send a quote with 1-2 business days via email.
After the company pays via the online payment link, we issue initial documents that include a nondisclosure agreement and 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, 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 several weeks depending on how fast the suppliers respond to us.
Manufacturing logistics and resource supply can be fluid. How do you take this into account once a made in USA certification has been given?
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. Made in USA Certified also sends a monthly email to each client proactively asking if any part of the supply chain has changed.
Do companies seek out this certification?
Yes. Many companies are looking for independent verification for government contracts and need to prove they are “made in the USA” to qualify them in the bidding process.
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.
Do you believe the majority of Americans look for products and services made in the U.S. as a part of their purchasing decision?
Absolutely. We see it everywhere from ABC World News, to headline news almost daily. Our unemployment numbers that have hovered over 8% the last 3 years are 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”. Consumers are checking labels and making much more conscientious 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, it actually creates jobs. Now that is something we get really excited about.
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?
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. In fact, a recent Boston Consulting Group study shows that over 80% of U.S. consumers prefer to buy American, versus just 60% just 2 years ago.
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.