Pencil certification.

Woodchuck recently wrote about pencil certification on Timberlines, and it would be very good to get some feedback on that post on the topic of pencil certification:

Later this week I’m attending the Annual Meeting of the U.S. Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA). Participants include finished product manufacturers and marketers with operations in the US as well as component suppliers. I used to look forward to this event each year as an important chance to get together with key customers, other businesses and friends in the pencil and writing instrument industry. Coming from a family business background I can remember attending one of the former Pencil Makers Association meetings with my parents when I was still in High School and later after college before I had joined the family business…

….In the meantime I remain interested in consumer feedback on this particular issue. Do you place any more value on such third party certification programs, industry sponsored or not? Do you view a PMA, EN71 (European standard) or ACMI certified product as safer than one without one of these certifications? Does it bear any relevance in your purchase decision at all?”

Please check out the rest of Woodchuck’s post, and please leave a comment or two there about what pencil certification means to you: “Do Industry Associations Matter Anymore?”

3 Replies to “Pencil certification.”

  1. I bite my pencils and so does my grandson. I don’t want them biting us back.

    Given the choice, I almost always pick the product which seems to help protect me and our environment from harm. I have a decision price point, of course. It isn’t carefully calculated, particularly rational or consistently followed. But if I have a good feeling about the safety and environmental aspects of the product, I’d guess that a 20% price premium is fine. I pay at least that premium for Whole Foods groceries, Shaklee vitamins and other products which purport to be better for me than their competitors’ products. Mostly it’s the labels which influence my decision. The scientific evidence that I’m getting my money’s worth is scanty and contradictory. I just hope that the anecdotal statements are correct, and trust that I benefit.

    The PMA seal doesn’t help me, though. What the heck is PMA, or ASTM Standard D4236 anyway? I don’t know before I buy pencils. I cannot research it while I’m selecting pencils, and it’s too late after I’ve purchased them. Now, if the seal said something like “The Pencil Makers Association certifies that the materials used in manufacturing this pencil will not harm you, because it is made in accordance with ASTM Standard D4236” I’d be comforted. And if I see that verbiage on every pencil package manufactured by X company, then I feel comfortable buying all pencil products from X company. Moreover, the trust is carried over to the brand’s other products.

    Governments are quick to regulate when individual citizens feel insecure and powerless to protect themselves from harmful or environmentally destructive products. If a serious issue arises, collective action is called for, and that means legislated rules of conduct. The tougher the Pencil Manufacturers Association is in its self-regulation of members, the more impact it will have on potential legislation. That alone may be a good enough reason to keep the Association together and to support it with your talent and your money.

    The bottom line for me is that informative, comforting product labels are important. Brands whose trustworthiness is established by participating in meaningful self-regulation get my votes at the cash register.

  2. Thanks first to John for providing the link and extended forum for this discussion.

    Thanks so much to Don who responded here on PR and to those who responded directly to my post on Timberlines. It’s clear you have given well considered and thorough responses on this issue which is valuable feedback. Of course I recognize that we are dealing with a self selected audience with a favorable predisposition to quality pencils. In any event I continue to be interested in additional points of view from other Revolutionaries so feel free to continue adding your input here on PR or over at Timberlines.

  3. I was with the Blackfeet Indian Writing Company from 1973 to 1991. I resigned my position along with others and the company changed its name to Blackfeet Writing Instruments. At that point the company began to deteriorate and lose business because of bad quality and poor production. Now, I believe, the equipment is for sale. The doors were locked and the equipment is still intact. If you want to or are interested in purchasing equipment let me know and I will inquire for you as all the equipment is still in excellent condition. The Blackfeet Indian Writing Company was a member of the Pencil Makers Association back before it changed its name! Inquire: Box 92-Browning, Montana 59417

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