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Moving Forward – FSC Certification

Recognizing the complexity of obtaining the FSC certification, we quickly realized that thorough organization and commitment are crucial to ensure a smooth process (a work ethic which thankfully is ingrained in the team). We decided to form a dedicated team, spearheaded by Mike Doyle from HQ in Sarasota. From our local team in Valencia, we picked key members of staff Francois Ponchut (Manufacturing Manager), Sergi de Juan (Projects & Logistics Coordinator) Iryna Malsagova (Production coordinator) and John Shinske (Director of Sales & Business Development, who will play a pivotal role in coordinating activities and ultimately ensuring overall compliance. Among the key actions and priorities identified was the need to find a company that offers an FSC internal auditors’ course, which will provide us with the necessary knowledge and strategies to confront the certification process.


Seeking expert guidance:

Prior to the meeting, we reached out to various FSC internal auditors in Spain. Despite there not being many, the one who had been the most proactive is actually based in Valencia and we were really excited at the thought of having them right on our doorstop. However, due to language barriers (and Mike not speaking any Spanish), we ended up seeking assistance from DoubleHelix,  a trusted partner with whom we have an established relationship. Mike set up a meeting with Darren Thomas and Adam Grant, where we delved into discussions on the EU deforestation regulations and FSC Chain of Custody (CoC) process and what we are looking to achieve.


Establishing a comprehensive due diligence program:

We immediately felt really at ease and comfortable with Darren and Adam. Both have extensive experience within the field. With great relief, we agreed that Double Helix’s guidance would be instrumental in helping us to develop a robust due diligence program. This program will enable us to identify the forest of origin, assess deforestation, and ultimately serve as our due diligence statement.


Next steps:

With a clear roadmap now in place, Double Helix agreed to put together a tailored training package to equip our team with the knowledge and skills necessary for FSC certification. Their expertise and guidance will ensure that we are fully prepared to meet the stringent requirements set by the auditors. As part of the process, they will carry out a trial audit to simulate the actual certification audit, allowing us to refine our procedures and address any sticking points (which we think is a brilliant idea).


The proposal:

They got back to us really quickly with a proposal (which was highly appreciated). The proposal was signed off last week, by our CEO, and Mike Doyle scheduled a meeting with Darren and Adam to discuss the training schedule. During the call, we discussed how to distribute the training session for FSC and EUDR. We decided that, due to the constraints of having two time zones and everyone having a full workload, the the most practical approach would be to divide the content into subjects. It is going to be full on for the team, but by allocating 2-hour slots over a 2-week period, it will allow the team to absorb the information before the next session.


We also agreed that we would record the sessions so that we can review them later (you have to love technology!). The training will be tailored specifically to the document control system, focusing on our actual set up in Valencia. Once we have all our systems in place, they will recommend a certification company for us.  If all goes to plan, the audit should last a day, and the auditors will require approximately 1 month to go through all the documentation.


In the event that we need to make changes, we will have 3 months, although we are hopeful that with the assistance of Darren and Adam, such changes won’t be necessary. It is all so new to us, but we are taking each day step by step.


While it might be daunting what lies ahead, the greatest thing is that the team is raring to go and is 100% committed to driving this through!


See you next time!

FSC Certification, FSC Certified

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