Insights from industry

Overcoming the Challenges of Compliance and Supplying Products and Services

In this interview, Ian Doggett, Global Compliance Manager at Goodfellow, talks to AZoM about the many aspects that the compliance department has to withstand.

Please tell us about your role at Goodfellow?

I am the Global Compliance Manager at Goodfellow. Compliance covers many aspects of our business and cannot always be confined to a single department. Compliance tasks were historically carried out by various experienced people within Goodfellow, but due to the growing size of the business and associated regulations, coupled with demands from our customers, the need for a dedicated compliance team was evident.  The compliance team is, therefore, a relatively new department within the company, but contains experienced staff who typically deal with areas such as

  • Trade compliance (e.g. export licenses, end-use statements, tariff numbers, export documentation, origin of materials, etc.)
  • Product compliance (e.g. RoHS, REACH & Conflict Minerals reporting, control of poisons, etc.)
  • Regulatory and customer-specific compliance (e.g. Non-Disclosure Agreements, GDPR, contractual agreements and tenders, etc.)

Compliance has become an integral part of doing business for us. Whilst much of it may appear to be a paper-filling exercise, the reality is that a growing number of customers would not be able to trade with Goodfellow without us ensuring that our products and procedures meet strict compliance requirements.

Regular audits and inspections from external parties keep us focused on maintaining and improving our compliance work. This can sometimes be challenging, but it is also hugely satisfying to use our strengths in compliance to open up sales opportunities which would otherwise be difficult to access.

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How has Goodfellow dealt with the uncertainties of Brexit?

From the day the Referendum result was known, Goodfellow has been determined to ensure that our customers worldwide, and particularly within the EU, continue to enjoy the level of service they are used to from Goodfellow, without any disruption.

We immediately formed an internal Brexit committee which began meeting on a regular basis to discuss the potential implications of Brexit on our business. The instructions from our Directors were clear – we should prepare for every possible scenario, even if this meant investing time and money in preparing for an outcome which many never materializes. Our focus has therefore been on preparing for a possible “no deal” situation, as this would potentially result in quick changes that could affect our business, rather than a gradual transition.

Goodfellow already have a long-established legal entity in both France and Germany. Our high proportion of export sales also means our staff are already familiar with many of the requirements for international shipping. This gave us a good base to work from, but specific areas we still needed to address included:

  • Reviewing regularly used products and ensuring sufficient buffer stock to cope with any possible disruption
  • Liaising with suppliers to determine if they anticipate any issues with supply
  • Reviewing our internal systems to ensure that any new tariff regimes or regulatory changes could be implemented
  • Informing and assisting our EU staff (which comprise around 25% of our workforce) with regard to the Government Settled Status scheme
  • Considering how Goodfellow could deal with any regulatory changes so that our customers are not subject to extra burdens and experience no difference in service levels post-Brexit.

We have also engaged with local and national Brexit events to ensure that we stay abreast of any updates and to exchange ideas and tips with other proactive businesses who are making their own preparations.

Please tell us how Goodfellow trades with other countries when it comes to their products and services?

Goodfellow is a truly international organization. Although our headquarters are in the UK, our products are predominantly exported to all regions of the world. Having a presence in France, Germany, China and the United States gives Goodfellow local knowledge and experience in these areas which may otherwise be hard to acquire. We deal with customers in most countries directly but are also represented by a number of agents and distributors in key territories such as Spain, Italy, India, Canada, Korea and Japan. Our agents are supported by our teams in the UK so that technical and compliance queries can be answered quickly and accurately.

Our online catalog is also available in multiple languages so that customers can order products with the confidence that they match the specifications they are seeking. Goodfellow also participates in many trade shows and other international events, which offers an opportunity for customers to meet with key Goodfellow staff and discuss requirements and applications face to face. Our membership in both The Institute of Export and GAMBICA (the laboratory technology trade association) allows us to participate in trade events and have a voice when government departments seek input from the industry to formulate or amend regulations.

Shipping products to so many different countries means that we also need to have an awareness of individual country regulations and requirements to avoid our shipments being delayed or even refused. This may include aspects such as the choice of packaging materials or needing special licenses for certain products. Some of our suppliers are also based internationally, so we need to keep track of factors such as free trade agreements which could impact the cost of materials and ultimately the sales price to our customers.

Why should a customer in another country choose Goodfellow’s services and products rather than a local supplier?

If there is no Goodfellow office or distributor/agent in a particular country, customers may still purchase directly from Goodfellow. Our combination of high-quality products, wide product range, technical support, and large inventory often means it is difficult to find comparable suppliers elsewhere. When international customers place an order with Goodfellow they can be assured that they will receive a first-class product in the quickest possible time. Many of our products are of a small size and so are shipped by express courier services.

Our packing processes are set up so that we can continue to despatch parcels as late into the day as possible whilst still being able to catch overnight flights that will deliver to many of our customers on the next working day. With many multi-lingual staff, it is likely that we will be able to converse with our customers in their native language to better understand their needs and requirements. Simply put – our international customers will feel that it is just as easy to buy from Goodfellow as it is from a local supplier!

Does Goodfellow currently face any challenges with other countries and trading? How does Goodfellow overcome this?

Aside from the preparations for Brexit which were already mentioned, we need to keep up to date with other changes to international trading which can impact the costs of our products. One such situation which has arisen relatively recently is the so-called “trade war” between the USA and China, coupled with an “America First” policy. These have resulted in the imposition of additional tariffs on certain products, such as aluminium and iron, entering the USA.

Retaliatory tariffs were subsequently imposed by the European Union, so some of our products could theoretically be subjected to tariffs when moving in either direction. This has meant that we have to be much more aware of costs and carefully consider the most efficient routes to market which will not impact the prices our customers pay.

More generally we need to regularly check government advice regarding sanctions, export controls and parties of concern to ensure that our systems are updated to prevent unauthorized sales. We also monitor country-specific regulatory changes which may require us to update our shipping documentation depending on the destination country. Our internal systems are well developed to cope with any such changes, but our experienced staff are also always ready to tackle any new challenges which may relate to international trade.

When it comes to trading, have Goodfellow identified high-risk products and customers and put individual plans in place to ensure the continuation of supply? Can you tell us more about these safeguarding plans?

Our product range is huge. Our high-risk products include those with specific regulatory requirements (such as our mildly radioactive materials and materials which are considered poisonous) and those which are at risk due to scarcity of supply.

Our continued regulatory compliance is accomplished through processes, procedures and training to ensure ongoing compliance. For materials that are becoming scarcer, we often work with our supply chain and add material to our inventory in anticipation of future demands, ready for customers to order.

Why is it necessary to have these plans in place?

The demands of research and industry are such that materials often need to be delivered quickly. By ensuring we have compliance procedures in place upfront we are usually able to ship products quickly upon receipt of an order. Through advance preparation, Goodfellow aims to make our customer experience as smooth as possible.

What is in store for the future of trading with other countries and Goodfellow? Do you foresee it becoming more regular?

Goodfellow has been growing as a company for a number of years and we anticipate that in the future our export sales will continue to grow further still. Trade agreements have featured regularly in the news due to Brexit debates and we anticipate that these will become more prominent in the future.

This will require our compliance team to be aware of how both we and our customers could benefit from these agreements, as the fine details of each agreement often differ. It will be interesting to see how the “trade wars” play out and whether these will lead to a breakdown of trade between certain regions or, perhaps more likely, some sort of renegotiation of trading terms in the future.

Where can our readers go to find out more?

Goodfellow can be easily contacted. In addition to the telephone and email contact details available on our website, we have a presence on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube which customers can use to learn more about our products. If you have a concern about whether we can supply a specific product to your region, please contact us with details.

Our website also contains information about upcoming exhibitions which Goodfellow are attending and where staff will be available to answer any queries in person.

About Ian Doggett

Ian Doggett is the Global Compliance Manager of Goodfellow Cambridge Ltd, a leading global supplier of materials for research, innovation, and development in science and industry sectors. Goodfellow has an extensive range of products that are shipped worldwide. Some products and countries have compliance requirements which are monitored by Ian and his team to ensure adherence.

Ian holds a degree in materials science and engineering from Imperial College, London, and has worked for Goodfellow for more than 15 years across several departments. Ian’s team consists of experienced staff who work to ensure customer orders can proceed smoothly whilst meeting any applicable rules and regulations.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Goodfellow.

For more information on this source, please visit Goodfellow

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

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