C-TPAT, Keeping Supply Chains Safe

C-TPAT, Keeping Supply Chains Safe
by Jake Woolley, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

When is the last time you showed up 30 minutes before a flight? It's probably been over 10 years, considering all the airport security procedures of the last decade. Shipping cargo is no different. As a result of 9/11, new security measures were introduced for supply chains of both private and public companies. To reduce the potential threat of terrorism, the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officially launched the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) in November 2001.

Since its beginning, over 10,000 companies have joined C-TPAT as a trusted source in the fight against domestic and international security threats. As a voluntary US government security initiative, the focus of C-TPAT is to improve the security of a company's supply chains. Our government continues to work with fellow nations to agree on common security practices, allowing us to trust shipments from those countries and vice versa.

A few years ago, Fire Mountain Gems and Beads put forth the effort and financial obligation to become C-TPAT certified and also to use service providers that are certified as well. We carry out weekly inspection checks to ensure our vendors, shipping lines, cargo companies and other providers that handle our products are C-TPAT certified. Overall, this helps in the delivery process to receive safe products from our vendors while giving us the advantage of getting jewelry-making materials faster than non-certified companies. Plus, it allows us to keep our warehouse fully stocked with the ability to quickly replenish customer back orders.

Cargo passes through several borders and checkpoints to move from foreign vendors to our warehouse. Thanks to C-TPAT, our company is in a partnership with Customs and Border Protection. In other words, as a trusted importer, Fire Mountain Gems' cargo is first in line with fewer Customs checkpoints to go through. This allows overseas product to be received in a more timely fashion--it's like a fast pass through airport security.

At Fire Mountain Gems headquarters in Grants Pass, Oregon, we abide by many security regulations to stay C-TPAT certified. Some of these practices include a secure building with enclosed fencing, an alarm system, onsite security guards and I.D. badges for all employees. Even when customers visit us for a public tour, they are issued a temporary I.D. badge.

We can validate that Fire Mountain Gems' facility and employees are following all these practices, but what about our international vendors and their facilities?

Members of our Product Management Department are trained auditors. They select vendors to be audited and verify that they are meeting C-TPAT security requirements. Since our largest vendors are in China, India and Thailand, we take the time to visit and personally train their staff. These training sessions ensure the vendors understand and follow the same security practices as we do. We make C-TPAT requirements relevant to our international counterparts and appreciate their willingness to take part in these security practices. It's just one more way to help the shipping process and get jewelry-making supplies through Customs in a seamless manner.

So, the next time you're asked to remove your jewelry as you pass through airport metal detectors, remember that the materials used to make your bracelet went through their own C-TPAT security regulations, keeping our country's borders safe and cargo shipments secure.

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "C-TPAT, Keeping Supply Chains Safe," as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"This article was very interesting and something I didn't know. I appreciate all the hard work you have put in to keep these products safe for our use. Thank you very much."
- Penel

"Thanks--I appreciate all your efforts. I am pleased to read the article and know of your involvement. I make a conscious effort to participate in businesses that are socially responsible. THANK YOU. Sincerely,"
- Jean

"Thank you for such an informative article! Actually I had never thought of the 'behind the scenes' of jewelry importing. You take such good care of us, your customers! Thank you"
- Elaine

"I really appreciated the information you provided regarding your company and the effort you go through to help maintain safety. I am very interested in the companies I purchase supplies from. Thanks for the great information and product!! Keep up the great work!!"
- Vickie

"Very interesting, and something one does not normally contemplate. Of course we want to be on top of all possible terrorism sites, and I am pleased that Fire Mountain participates in this program. Besides, who wouldn't want their bead orders a little faster, H-m-m-? I am glad my beads are free and clear and patriotic."
- Sylvia

"Terrific article. When I place an order with you it would never have occurred to me that security measures would be necessary. How naive am I? Of course, all kinds of neat contraband could be hidden within all those little packages. Had no idea the procedure was so complicated."
- Anonymous

"I've been ordering from Fire Mountain for decades and recall the days when your catalog only had a few stone shapes. My, how you've grown! Congratulations on having become such a large, successful business. A big part of your growth is the fact that your telephone staff is so knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful; a pleasure doing business with you! Many thanks,"
- Hedy

"Thought this was a good article, with good information for all of us! Thanks,"
- Barbara

"No question. Just a note to say how much I liked reading that informative little article explaining C-TPAT, what it is, what it does, and how it works. As a bead and gemstone buyer who has in the past had things held up in Customs for a periods of time with no eta given, I am pleased to learn of this and it may well factor in to my buying practices in the future. Way to go, Fire Mountain!!"
- lilcrow Ingrid

"Thank you so much! I appreciate it that you take extra precautions to keep us safe. I don't mind it at all when security ask me to remove my jewelry."
- Jeannie

"Thank you for that informative information. It's nice to know how the jewelry process began because the finish jewelry design is always a work of art."
- Ms. D

"Excellent article and looking forward to more. Had no idea!"
- Catherine

"Thanks for this info, good to know. I worked for a cargo airline and understand all the security and customs procedures. I am impressed that the China, Thailand, etc countries are also complying. Keep up the good work. I love your products."
- Joani

"Interesting article. Thanks for taking the extra step to supply us your faithful customers with our favorite supplies."
- Gena

"Wow, Fire Mt. peoples! I had no idea you had to go through so much red tape! Thank you,"
- Stacy

"Dear FMG: Thanks for this article. I appreciate knowing this. Just one other question: do you import jewelry-making supplies from China? Thanks. Yours truly,"
- Candice

"I wanted to thank you in your efforts being aware of what's going on in the international business world. Making great choices for your company as well as for your customers shows the quality of business owners you are. Sincerely,"
- Irene

"Whoooeee. I am so impressed. Didn't know anything like C-TPAT even existed. And thanks for fabulous products and exceptional courteous staff."
- P. C.

"GREAT INFO....as usual! Thank you so much. Vanessa"
- Vanessa-Carolyn

"Thank you so much for this information it is truly appreciated and we are glad that your company is so involved."
- Dawn