Jin Luo - Executive Vice President of Laboratory Recognition & Asia Pacific Operations
After everything that has happened this year, 2020 will be an unforgettable year in our history. It has been the year to reflect, to transform our mindset, to be grateful, to be kind to others, and most importantly to stay safe and healthy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everybody’s life globally. There has been news coverage about the pandemic on every news outlet every day since the beginning of the year. This situation can be overwhelming. We are not going to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives here, but rather about what we at IAPMO R&T have done to help our clients navigate through this pandemic.
As North America’s premier conformity assessment organization for many years, we have seen and experienced many challenges that the world has brought to us unexpectedly — SARS, 9/11, and the 2008 stock market crash just to name a few. Through it all, we have learned that the businesses that are innovative, versatile, and responsive are the ones best able to endure such challenges.
Based on these experiences, we know that in our role we need to assist our clients so they are able to focus on being innovative, versatile and responsive in their businesses while not having to worry about any delay to obtain and/or maintain their certification. We see our clients as our partners, and we need to do our part to help them navigate through this difficult time.
IAPMO R&T has built our processes and systems in a way that would allow us the ability to seamlessly transition between working in the office to working remotely. Therefore, when the government mandated stay-at-home order was issued in March, we were able to transition to working-from-home without any downtime. The ability to make such a transition is critical; it gives us the ability to continuously support our clients in maintaining the validity of their certification so they can continue selling their products without any delays or other issues.
As for our services in Asia, we quickly developed new measures to address the impacts of the new coronavirus when it first started to affect all travel in the region. These new measures were implemented to ensure our clients in Asia are served through remote access, so that they can continue to fulfill all requirements while maintaining their certification. With the continued refinement of these measures, we continue to serve our clients in the region smoothly.
To all of our clients, we at IAPMO R&T understand that this has been a difficult year for many of us. We want you to have a restful mind that we are here for you and we will get through this together. We want you to focus on your business and let us take care your certification needs. We believe this pandemic will be over soon and we are certain that we will be with you all the way. We wish for everyone to stay safe and healthy.
Please be assured our team is always ready to assist manufacturers with their certification needs. As always, if you have any questions, please call us or send us an e-mail at email@example.com.
Executive Vice President
of Laboratory Recognition
& Asia Pacific Operations
Ohannes Dembekjian - Executive Vice President of Continuous Compliance
It is time once again to look back and reflect on the challenges and successes that 2020 has brought us, and to say 2020 was challenging is an understatement. Looking back on all the events that have transpired during this year, we should have known that starting with the untimely death of basketball great Kobe Bryant the year was working up to be one that we will never forget. Soon after this tragic event, news of a strange virus called COVID-19 began surfacing. Very quickly, this virus became a global pandemic that would bring the entire world to a half. As the world was learning to live with travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders, face masks, quarantines, practicing social distancing and extra disinfecting measures, the country was also faced with social unrest and demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
IAPMO R&T was by no means exempt from these events. Early in the year, because of the statewide mandate, were forced to close our doors and operate entirely from our individual homes. This was thankfully made possible due to our efficient process and the robust IT infrastructure that was already in place prior to this pandemic.
The effect of the global pandemic was felt quickly within the industry as manufacturers around the world were forced to close or operate under minimum-staff conditions in order to control and minimize the spread of the virus. In early March, the IAPMO R&T Continuous Compliance department took rapid action to adapt to this new reality and to ensure our valued clients would not have a negative effect on their current certifications. IAPMO R&T’s accredited certification program requires all manufacturing and warehouse locations to be inspected annually by our qualified inspectors; the immediate closures and travel restrictions imposed by local governments posed a serious risk that our listees would not be able to satisfy their certification duties. As a result, the Continuous Compliance department implemented a new method of conducting remote inspections. Our team of qualified inspectors was immediately trained to conduct remote inspections using video conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, WeChat, Google Meet and other acceptable methods. Additionally, in order to maintain and provide real-time communication with all our team members, special virtual groups were created where our inspectors received and provided immediate feedback; this proved to be invaluable as the quickly changing environment demanded a quick and effective means of communication.
Remote inspections also demanded that we make changes to our inspection software to allow for processing of the extra photographs and documents now required to successfully conduct the inspection. To address this situation, with the assistance of our incredible IT team we updated our software to allow the inspector to directly process all the material received into one form, and also to allow for virtual signatures, a necessity that became evident as we were no longer on site to obtain the signature. As a result of these measures, we were able to successfully conduct the required inspections for the great majority of our listees, effectively allowing them to maintain their listing in good standing for the remainder of the year.
The current social conditions also affected the surveillance of listed products. The global closures of suppliers and manufacturers have placed many manufactures in survival mode; this means, among other things, that listed product is at a minimum or in some cases not existent. To address this situation, we have worked with manufacturers, allowing them to inform us when product is available so they can satisfy their annual retesting requirements. The Continuous Compliance retesting program ensures that certified products, even after their initial certification process, and even more important now that supplier availability is scarce, continue to be in compliance with their applicable plumbing code and standard, whether it is for the U.S., Canadian, Mexican, Australian, or Indonesian markets. We take pride as the only certification program in North America that truly certifies plumbing products in Canada, the United States and Mexico!
The Continuous Compliance department places great importance in providing excellent customer service and strives to attain the highest customer satisfaction ratings in alignment with IAPMO R&T’s 97% customer satisfaction goals; even more so during these challenging times. Our professional staff and highly trained team of field inspectors ensure our goals are met by engaging in honest and continuous communication with our customers, assisting them directly or by providing a point of contact with IAPMO to assist their needs.
As this year comes to an end, we look forward to better times ahead and our hearts go out to the thousands of people lost as well as those everybody affected by this global pandemic. To our clients, we want to take this opportunity to say “Thank you!” We sincerely appreciate your business and continued trust; we couldn’t have done this without your support! Thank you for allowing us to be your certification agency of choice. We look forward to servicing you again and we are only a phone call away to attend to your needs.
As we look into next year, with the experience and knowledge gained from this year and years past, we are confident we will continue to excel and most importantly, continue to maintain the excellent customer service that our clients expect and deserve. We thank you for your continued support and we appreciate your business.
Executive Vice President
For more information on having plumbing and mechanical products certified, please call (877) 4-UPC-MARK.