Thursday, October 29, 2009

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), Carpet & CARE

Jennifer Mendez, CRI Government AffairsWait!!! Don’t stop reading because the headline looks daunting… Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR is an emerging legislative issue that is spreading across the country and affects a variety of industries: including the carpet industry.

As Director of CRI’s Government Relations, I cover all 50 states. I see a lot (not sure that’s actually a good thing, but I’ll let you decide). I’ve been asked to share a little bit of my perspective on the issue. In order to do that I feel a little background is necessary.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a strategy designed to promote the integration of environmental costs associated with goods throughout their life cycles into the market price of the products. Also known as "Product Stewardship," (EPR) uses political means to hold producers liable for the costs of managing their products at end of life.

There are a number of forms this can take: a reuse, buy-back, or recycling program, or in energy production. EPR transfers responsibility for waste from government to private industry. There are several ways that this can be approached: regulatory, negotiated and voluntary.

Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality
As I monitor legislation across the 50 states I am seeing this type of legislation appear at both the state and local levels. It encompasses a number of industries including (but not limited to): electronics, plastic bags, fluorescent light bulbs, batteries, medications and yes, even carpet!

In Oregon, for example, earlier this year, legislation was introduced regarding EPR. It was all encompassing. The incredibly broad reach would have been very hard to manage and mandate. This particular piece of legislation even included carpet. In fact, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Website even provided a link to the CARE website.

I question, why, when we are already working on voluntary programs such as CARE which provide market-based solutions to the recycling issue, the government feels the need to mandate such programs?

Fortunately, we were able to work with other stakeholders on the issue in Oregon and the legislation was changed to just relate to light bulbs. This leads me to believe that states will now begin to take a piece meal approach to the issues of EPR and target individual industries one at a time.

This issue is not going away. We will continue to monitor activities. EPR is certainly and issue of concern, but it can also be an opportunity.
~ Jenn Mendez

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

David Record, Mohawk Home, on Bath Mats For Bathroom Blogfest '09

Mohawk Home, Bath ProductsOld Man: A bath mat? What do we need a bath mat for?

Ralph's Mother: Well, you never know! It might be nice.


I think it’s fair to say that a bath mat is one household object that falls into the category of things that are conspicuous only in their absence. Sort of like toilet paper.

But for a quick and relatively inexpensive bathroom refresher, there’s no better fashion pick-me-up than new bath mats, says David Record, Bath Product Manager for Mohawk Home.

According to David, the top three factors that influence a shopper’s choice of a bath mat are: color, color, and color. Beyond that, he says, consumers are looking for a soft, luxurious hand and a wide selection of sizes, including “contours” (those notched-out rugs that fit around the base of a toilet), and lid covers. In terms of size, the 21” x 34” rug is by far the market leader. Reason number six is price, where the “sweet spot” for a 21” x 34” hovers right around the $9.99 price point. “It’s like the magic number,” David said, adding that, while many shoppers are willing to pay more, volume falls off precipitously at higher price points.

I asked David to explain a little more about current trends and influences in the bath mat market.

CRI: What is the annual sales volume for bath mats?DR: Mohawk Home estimates bath rugs at $400-500 million annually at cost and over $1 billion at retail.

CRI: Are bath mats following the broadloom carpet trend into more textures and patterns?DR: There are more textured products on the market today, but approximately 90% of everything sold is solid color and that has not changed. For years, the #1 top seller has been a solid-color Saxony. Now we’re seeing more textured finishes, like friez├ęs, loops, and cut and loop styles, but consumers don’t want anything so busy it will compete with other interior motifs. Borders, or a simple Greek key pattern are popular, but consumers will shy away from anything more elaborate.

Mohawk Home, Bath Products & EversetCRI: What fibers are used?DR: Nylon accounts for 85% of the entire market. Nylon is easy for manufacturers to process and easy for consumers to care for. It dyes beautifully, is remarkably colorfast, and highly repeatable for color (which means you can dye batch after batch with the same dye formula and the results will look the same each time – BR). Nylon is also affordable. It isn’t as absorbent as cotton, but it dries faster, which is important in a bathroom. Nylon rugs usually come with a thick, embossed latex backing layer that provides valuable slip-resistance. Like broadloom carpet, nylon bath rugs are manufactured in the United States, while mats made with other fibers, including cotton, are almost invariably imported.

Cotton makes up the remaining 15% of the market. While lately I have seen some micro-denier polyester as well as some bamboo/cotton blends introduced, neither one currently accounts for a significant share of the market. Compared to nylon, cotton is not as easy-care or as colorfast. Many cotton rugs are reversible, which means they don’t have any anti-slip protection on the back. When a cotton rug does come with a latex backing, it tends to be a thinner application that doesn’t hold up as well over time.

CRI: How often do homeowners replace their bath mats?DR: Every 18 months to 2 years.

CRI: Is white the most popular color?DR: White is popular for towels, but in nylon rugs, white is definitely not the most preferred. Pale neutrals like parchment or ivory sell very well, but consumers don’t want white because they think it will be too hard to keep clean. Oddly, when a rug style includes black in its colorline, black will be the #1 or #2 seller.

One reason white towels are popular is because people like to use chlorine bleach to wash them. In fact, some consumers like put a little bleach in the wash water for just about everything, and because of that, Mohawk Home has introduced Everset®, a bleach-resistant treatment that protects the mat’s colors while allowing users to add a small amount of bleach to the wash.

CRI: How do bath mat manufacturers and towel companies get their products to match?DB: Mohawk maintains a color lab, and when retailers send us their towel color line, our colorists match it, then send our samples back for the retailer’s approval.

Thank you, David – I’ll never ignore my bath mat again!

~ Bethany

---------------
Bathroom Blogfest '09This post represents the Carpet and Rug Institute Blog's contribution to the 4th annual Bathroom Blogfest. Bloggers participating in the Bathroom Blogfest ’09 include:

• Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroads http://www.customercrossroads.com/
• Reshma Anand at Qualitative Research Blog http://onqualitativeresearch.blogspot.com/
• Shannon Bilby at From the Floors Up http://fromthefloorsup.com/
• Shannon Bilby and Brad Millner at My Big Bob’s Blog http://blog.mybigbobs.com/
• Laurence Borel at Blog Till You Drop http://www.laurenceborel.com/
• Jeanne Byington at The Importance of Earnest Service http://blog.jmbyington.com/
• Becky Carroll at Customers Rock! http://www.customersrock.net/
• Leslie Clagett at KB Culture http://www.kbculture.blogspot.com/
• Katie Clark at Practical Katie http://practicalkatie.blogspot.com/
• Iris Shreve Garrott at Checking In and Checking Out http://circulating.wordpress.com/
• Julie at Julie’s Cleaning Secrets Blog http://cleaningsecrets.greatcleaners.com/
• Marianna Hayes at Results Revolution http://www.resultsrevolution.com/
• Maria Palma at People To People Service http://www.people2peopleservice.com/
• Professor Toilet at Professor Toilet’s Blog http://www.professortoilet.com/
• David Reich at My 2 Cents http://reichcomm.typepad.com/
• Bethany Richmond at The Carpet and Rug Institute Blog http://www.carpet-and-rug-institute-blog.com/
• Carolyn Townes at Becoming a Woman of Purpose http://spiritwomen.blogspot.com/
• Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology http://experienceology.blogspot.com/
• C.B. Whittemore at Flooring The Consumer http://flooringtheconsumer.blogspot.com/ and Simple Marketing Blog http://www.simplemarketingblog.com/
• Linda Wright at Lindaloo.com: Build Better Business with Better Bathrooms http://lindaloo.com/


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CRI Communications Manager Bethany Richmond Interviewed on TalkFloor.com

Bethany Richmond on TalkFloor.TVOne Small Step for a Woman… from Interviewer to Interviewee: CRI Communications Manager Bethany Richmond Interviewed on TalkFloor.com.

Late last week, one of life’s tables turned for me when I was offered the opportunity to be interviewed on TalkFloor TV, the flooring news and video website hosted by Dave Foster. Dave asked me about the Carpet and Rug Institute Blog, how it got started, and the audiences CRI reaches out to.

I talked about how, among other things, the CRI Blog provides a perfect platform for addressing the negative and erroneous information that is constantly being circulated in various media.

Before the blog, if CRI’s media tracking service turned up a negative article or a member forwarded a link to an anti-carpet web site, there was little besides a letter to the editor we could do to correct that information, and almost nothing we could do to get the correct information to the eyes and ears of the audiences we want to reach – carpet end-users, carpet retailers, the professional cleaning community, and certainly our members and others in the carpet industry. The blog enables CRI to reach out directly to the largest media audience in the world – the Internet – where search engines like Google provide the CRI Blog the kind of public access no editor can red-pencil out.

Sometimes we even outdo the competition. In these two blog posts about how carpet was treated unfairly in an article that appeared in Health magazine, the blog posts developed a higher ranking on Google than the original article: Contrary to Health Magazine Headline, Carpet Won't Make You Sick and Carpet Fact-checker Files.

As I understand the process, a blog succeeds if it has frequent posts, on subjects that are relevant and interesting to the folks who want to read it. It helps when other writers and individuals link the blog to other blogs and websites. I envision it sort of like a gigantic spider web.

Thanks to Dave Foster for the opportunity to talk about the blog on TalkFloor.com. And for those of you who read or subscribe to the blog, thanks, and feel free to forward or link to CRI Blog posts whenever you see an opportunity.

How did I do? I’d say I was informative and relatively cogent, maybe a little slow in the delivery department – you could see the gears moving in my head a little more than I’d like. Overall, I’d give me a B-Plus.

Watch the interview.

~ Bethany


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Thursday, October 15, 2009

CRI President Featured on Japanese National Television Re: HIRE Act

CRI President Werner Braun on Japanese National TelevisionSearching for examples of how American industries are fighting back against recession,
a film crew from NHK-Japanese national television found its way to Dalton last month, where they interviewed Carpet and Rug Institute President Werner Braun and Dalton Mayor David Pennington, among others, about how the economic times have affected the Carpet Capital, and how proposed legislation called the HIRE Act could help boost carpet and related home furnishings industries.

[Click here for an earlier post about the HIRE Act.]

Adding to the international flavor of this story, NHK producer Nami Kodaka says she first heard about Dalton through an article that ran in the German publication Der Spiegel. Further search led her to the CRI blog post on the HIRE Act. Kodaka said the network wanted to point out the similarity between the HIRE Act, which would offer tax deductions against home improvements and furnishings purchases, to the federal government’s Cash for Clunkers program.

NHK network broadcast two stories featuring Dalton – one on September 14 that aired on Good Morning, Japan, the Japanese equivalent of Good Morning America, and another on September 16 that was included in the nightly international news broadcast. The second story included an interview with J & J Industries HR manager and Dalton City Councilman Charlie Bethel. NHK-TV is offered on various American cable systems as well as in Japan.

View the two videos here:

[Subscribers, please on this link to view the 1:40 minute Good Morning Japan video.]


[Subscribers, please click on this link to the 1:40 minute Japanese Nightly News video.]


Congratulations, Werner, and thank you for your efforts on behalf of Dalton and the carpet industry!

~ Bethany

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CRI, CARE Volunteers Help with Conasauga River Clean-Up

The Conasauga River near Dalton, GA
Conasauga RiverRiver That Supplies the Carpet Industry Gets Its Annual Dose of TLC (tender loving clean) With Help from CRI and CARE Volunteers.

Have you heard the joke about the garbage man who bragged that his business was always picking up?

Well, that goes double for us here at the Carpet and Rug Institute and Carpet America Recovery Effort, because on Saturday, October 24th, CRI Sustainability Manager Jeff Carrier and CARE Operations Manager Jeremy Stroop will once again don their waders for the 15th Annual Conasauga Watershed Clean Up. This year ought to be just right for some particularly good, filthy fun, because recent rains have taken the Dalton, Georgia area out of the drought conditions that have prevailed for the last several years.

According to the flyer for the clean-up, The Conasauga River is one of the six most biologically diverse freshwater river systems in the United States, supporting 24 endangered species and a dozen other imperiled species, including the Southern Pigtoe mussel and the Conasauga log perch, a fish found nowhere else in the world.

Jeremy and two of his team members remove a piece of rusted-out truck.
Conasauga River CleanupJeff and Jeremy, how did you get involved with the Conasauga River Cleanup?

Jeff: Jeremy got me to volunteer the first time several years ago, and he and I have been going ever since. I really enjoy it – the people are nice, the setting is beautiful, and I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.

Jeremy: I first became involved in the Conasauga River Cleanup as a student taking an Environmental Studies Class at Dalton State. The class and the river project in particular marked the beginning of my passion for sustainability and environmental outreach. I was able to see the difference a person can make to improve the environment. This encouraged me to pursue a career in the carpet industry as an environmental representative.

What do you do exactly?

Jeff: Just show up at the site of your choice and pick up trash. All supplies are provided. The Nature Conservancy and The Conasauga River Alliance are involved in other projects for restoring the habitat, and the cleanup is just a great way for families and organizations to become involved in protecting one of this area’s most important and wonderful natural resources.

The remains of an abandoned truck are prepared for removal.
Conasauga River CleanupJeremy: As a site leader, I help to organize my assigned site by handling registrations and passing out goodies to the participants. After I get everyone registered the real fun begins. As a team of volunteers, we spend the four hours pulling litter from the watershed. Some volunteers wear waders so they can go out and get the items that have worked themselves into the middle of the river. One participant last year had to recover a computer monitor in the middle of the river. I’m fairly certain that item did not work its way downstream. The really disappointing thing is many of the materials that we find could have been recycled if the proper disposal steps were taken.

We have a great time doing something worthwhile in our own community. We would love to see more people get involved in this important project. The more people we have participating, the larger the area we can clean.

What is the most unusual item you can remember finding?

Jeff: There are so many - computers, tires, drums, fishing rods, furniture, and other very large items.

Jeremy: A truck bed

How does so much debris get into the river? Does it ever make you mad to think that people don’t appreciate this beautiful natural resource?

Jeff: People are careless with our natural resources. It would be easy to get mad, but instead, we’re trying to educate those around the community who use, enjoy, or have an effect on the river that their actions (or sometimes lack of) can hurt them. We also want them to see how much more the Conasauga River can be than just a source of drinking water. It’s available for their recreation, relaxation, and it supports such an incredible abundance of wildlife.

Jeremy: I have heard of some sites pulling up around 600 pounds of trash in one day’s work. It is disappointing to see the level of litter that finds its way into our water supply. Many of the sites were cleaned the year before, but when volunteers return a year later, some look as if they have never been cleaned.

The clean up day goes much deeper than simply protecting the natural landscape. The Conasauga River is one of the most biologically diverse river systems in the U.S. and is home to endangered and imperiled species that are found nowhere else in the world. The Conasauga is also important to Northwest Georgia’s economy and way of life. The Conasauga Watershed provides the water to the Northwest Georgia carpet industry. For example, 80% of domestic carpet manufacturing is accomplished by using water from this 90 mile stretch of river. The Conasauga watershed is also the source of drinking water for Dalton Utilities customers.

The clean up is held in conjunction with Northwest Georgia United Way’s Make a Difference Day and Rivers Alive. CRI member Shaw Industries is one of the sponsors for the event. The first 200 volunteers or so will receive a free T-shirt and hat, so it sounds like the early birds will profit most from the river rescue day. It sounds like hard work, but fun, too.

Thank you, Jeff and Jeremy, for all you do for the environment and for CRI and CARE! Many thanks also to our member volunteers, who pitch-in on behalf of companies such as Mohawk, Shaw, Tandus, J&J, etc.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The History of The Carpet and Rug Institute

Pictured: Then Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter at the 1971 dedication of the CRI Dalton Headquarters.
Governor Jimmy Carter dedicating the CRI headquarters, Dalton, GALately, I’ve had several conversations; either at trade shows, meetings, luncheons or just folks I’ve run into and haven’t seen in a while who wanted me to tell them more about the Carpet and Rug Institute and what we do.

I’m certainly never at a loss for words when it comes to talking about what we do at CRI, but in the course of several of those conversations, I got the question phrased to me more in a historical context. So today, I thought I would give you more of a history of CRI so you could see a little deeper into our roots. Like my momma always said, sometimes it’s easier to tell more about someone and where they are headed by looking at where they have been. Without further ado, here is what I came up with:

The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) is the national trade association for the carpet industry, spanning coast-to-coast and working as one voice for the carpet business. This organization is the realization of a dream that began back in the 1800s.

CRI has been around, in essence, since the early 1920s, but has roots reaching back to the days of old-fashioned broadlooms and spinning wheels in log cabins. One publication, Broadlooms and Businessmen, refers to “The Carpet Manufacturers Association” which was functioning around 1884.

However, it wasn’t until the 1920s that manufacturers realized the crucial need for one organization to keep track of industry data and bring industry information to the attention of carpet manufacturers nationwide. In 1927 the Institute of Carpet Manufacturers of America, Inc. (ICMA), began in Washington, D.C., and became one of the first organized groups formed on behalf of the carpet industry. The South’s version of this group was the Tufted Bedspread Manufacturers Association, formed in the 1930s and was the forerunner of the Tufted Textile Manufacturers Association (TTMA), which was formed in 1945.

The ICMA went to bat for the carpet industry for the first “big” time in 1929 when American cotton growers wanted protection against imports of carpet materials. In 1930 President Hoover signed the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act that permitted free importation of carpet wools and strengthened the position of the domestic manufacturer, thanks to the work of the ICMA.

With war looming near, the ICMA worked to bring carpet manufacturers together. World War II brought carpet to the front lines, at home and at war. With leadership from the ICMA, manufacturers agreed to exchange all the technical information on loom conversion. This action created the first Technical Committee, which continues to function today.

During the war carpet makers shared all the information they could, and made war products including Axminster blankets, army tents, and rayon fabric for camouflage netting.

After the war, members of the Institute decided to embark on a PR campaign that capitalized on the end of the war and the return of soldiers. The campaign, “Home Means More with Carpet on the Floor,” emphasized accent rugs, carpeted family rooms and area rugs. Other post-war programs helped get carpet into public schools, hospitals and nursing homes.

In 1947 the Institute of Carpet Manufacturers of America was changed to the Carpet Institute, Inc., and was moved to the Empire State Building for headquarters. However, in 1958 the name changed again to the American Carpet Institute (ACI) to help identify nationality and fight import competition.

The ACI worked to identify areas of concern and were successful in pinpointing areas that CRI still works with today. The ACI managed industry statistical information, maintained a reference library of background material on the industry, and followed the tax laws and regulations as they affected the industry. They also began product research, held annual meetings, produced an industry newsletter, and coordinated marketing activities.

The ACI was maintained until 1968, when it merged with the Tufted Textile Manufacturers Association (TTMA). The TTMA had become a strong voice in the tufted textile industry since the 1930’s and a merger between the two had been discussed for years. Before a merger agreement could be reached, the TTMA changed its name to the Tufted Carpet and Rug Institute. The two sides were able to reach a merger agreement and the new team became a larger, more solid association of carpet and rug manufacturers and suppliers. The new group named themselves the Carpet and Rug Institute.

Shortly after the merger, the national headquarters for CRI were moved to Dalton, Georgia, because 65% of the industry was centered in North Georgia. CRI and its members currently represent over 95% of all carpet manufacturers and suppliers. The industry now has one strong voice to represent both manufacturing and supplier needs and interests.

~James


A related story: Carpet Industry Overview from the New Georgia Encyclopedia

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lew Migliore's FCN Column on Carpet Hits Mark

Lew Migliore: Carpet is still kingLike He Said… Column on Carpet Hits the Mark: Carpet is still king!

As a person who makes her living largely from writing (and rewriting) stuff, I admit there are tasks I like better than others – a slogan, for example, is more fun to write than a warranty, and a feature story for a magazine or newspaper beats the heck out of a stockholders’ annual report, but, like most of us, I don’t get to pick and choose my chores. As a memorable friend once told me, “That’s why they call it work – if it were a tea party, they’d call it that.” More than anything else, the task I dislike most is having to rewrite something someone else has written when they have done a really good job of it in the first place. Fixing awkward or incorrect writing can be fun (not that I see any of that here at CRI), but when something’s right, it’s right and why mess with it?

I read an article recently that comes pretty close to my definition of being just fine the way it is. Lew Migliore’s Claims File column from the August 3/10 edition of Floor Covering News, entitled, Carpet is Still King, begins with a sentence that I would argue can’t be improved upon, not even by an obsessive kibitzer like me:

Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, carpet has increased its share of the market by about 1% over the last year. Despite what is seen on home remodeling and purchasing shows, carpet is still king.
He continues by listing carpet’s many benefits – what a good value it is; how it’s warm and comfortable and comes in virtually unlimited styles and colors. How it’s perfectly suited for the home remodeler who wants a quick and easy appearance boost for their home. How it’s easy to maintain – one of our rallying cries here at the Carpet and Rug Institute. He continues,
Lew Migliore, claims file

Carpet is quiet and it insulates. It traps soils and particulate matter. Carpet is safe…

Misinformation about carpet persists even though every fallacy preached about it has been refuted and proven incorrect. Carpet is everywhere. It’s in the cars and trucks we drive, the airplanes we fly in, buses and shuttles we ride in, the restaurants we eat in,, hotels we stay in, churches we attend, theaters we go to, stores we shop in and any other place you can think of.

If it didn’t work, was problematic, and created issues with people’s health don’t you think we’d all be sick from it? But again, common sense isn’t so common all the time.

What I like best about Lew’s column is its directness and certainty. He and CRI share what President Werner Braun calls “an unabashed zeal” for carpet and carpet-related issues. I identify with Lew’s enthusiasm about carpet as well as his frustration at how it is so often misrepresented.

Sometimes I get so busy writing for my own purposes I don’t take the time I should to read what other people are saying in and about the carpet industry, and that is my loss. Several excellent publications cover the carpet market, with accomplished writers who really know their stuff. My thanks to Lew for doing such a good job on this issue. Next time someone asks me about carpet I can shrug and say, “It’s like he said…”

Read the rest of Lew’s column here.

~ Bethany


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Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Tool For CRI Seal of Approval Providers

SOA marketing toolkitA New Tool for Seal of Approval Service Providers: CRI Marketing Toolkits Designed to Generate Interest, Customers

Congratulations! You have been selected as a Seal of Approval Service Provider because of your exclusive use of CRI tested and certified products and equipment and your commitment to a high standard of service and customer satisfaction.
So begins the letter that CRI Seal of Approval Manager Pat Jennings sends out to each new SOA Service Provider. The Carpet and Rug Institute developed the Seal of Approval Service Provider program as a way to ensure that consumers receive professional service with quality products and equipment and cleaning performance according to manufacturers’ instructions. The program has steadily grown to its current total of more than 800 SOA Service Providers and more than 520 solutions, vacuums, and deep-cleaning extractors and systems on the SOA list.

To coincide with the fifth anniversary of the SOA program, CRI has developed a new “toolkit” of marketing materials to help Service Providers market their businesses and increase visibility for them as well as CRI. In addition, CRI updated and enlarged the existing toolkits for SOA manufacturers of solutions, vacuums, cleaning systems, and extractors. The toolkits include materials such as a press release, brochure, and marketing talking points fact sheet.

The Marketing Toolkits were developed for CRI by Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in part as a response to a survey done earlier this year of existing SOA participants, whose #1 response was to request more marketing help. “It’s part of the multiplier effect that [CRI President] Werner Braun always talks about,” said Ogilvy Executive Vice President Chris Fillip. “With everyone doing his or her part, the toolkits will increase visibility for the Seal of Approval program as well as the Service Providers and SOA manufacturers.

SOA participants need to contact Pat Jennings at pjennings@carpet-rug.org or 706.428.2123 to receive their new and expanded marketing tool kits.

Thanks to all of our Seal of Approval participants – we were listening!

~Bethany

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