Hiland Global Consulting: Pioneers of Full-Circle Certification Management”

Hiland Global Consulting is recognized in the food industry for its comprehensive expertise in certification processes and production protocols. The firm’s team have developed an global partnership network with certification agencies that helps to streamline regulatory and quality assurance processes for their clientele. Hiland specializes in a wide array of certifications including Kosher and is known for its efficient approach to securing, maintaining certifications and addressing the unique challenges of its clients, aiming to ensure compliance with industry standards. 

We spoke to Hilands, founder, Daniel Masters, who talked about the unique service they offer to clientele around the world and their process. 

OU Kosher: Daniel, could you give us an overview of Hiland Global Consulting and your role in the company? 

Daniel: I’m the CEO and I primarily handle the sales. We are a team of 9 and we help and manage certifications for clients around the world. 

OU Kosher: What types of certifications do you have experience working with? 

Daniel: We handle certifications like Kosher, Halal, Organic, non-GMO Project, Vegan, Gluten free, Responsible Source, Palm oil, and more. 

OU Kosher: Tell me, who is your typical client, if there is such a thing? 

Daniel: We don’t have a typical client. Our clients range from small bakeries doing one-off products to global conglomerates with ingredients. 

OU Kosher: So you work with everything from ingredients to flavors to final products? 

Daniel: Yes, we cover the entire gamut of the food sector. 

OU Kosher: Why would a company with an internal QA team dealing with compliance and regulations use your services? 

Daniel: Many companies have turnover, and with multiple sites, they often have multiple QA personnel doing similar work. It can be easier to have a group like ours handle it. 

OU Kosher: So many certification interactions filter through your team, so you’re regularly interacting with the certifying bodies? 

Daniel: Yes, and we’re familiar with the intricacies of certification that companies may only encounter once or twice a year. We can expedite their processes. 

OU Kosher:  Can you give me an example of a company that you’ve recently worked with? 

Daniel: There’s a bakery in New York that needed halal certification for a product they wanted to supply to the airline industry. We got their product certified in just a few days. 

OU Kosher:  Do you also work with global clients, ensuring their certifications are consistent across countries? 

Daniel: Absolutely. We make sure to keep their certifications in line and handle their global operations. 

OU Kosher: Do you primarily work with a specific type of food manufacturing, or is it all types? 

Daniel: We work with all types, from dairy to final product. And yes, we do visit the facilities to validate their practices because our reputation is on the line with the certifying bodies. 

OU Kosher: Your company handles the certification process, so why is your company’s name on the line? 

Daniel: We’re responsible for managing the certification for the client. For example, if we’re working with the OU and claim that everything is compliant, but a visit reveals otherwise, it reflects poorly on us. So, we validate everything to build a trustworthy relationship with the certifiers. 

OU Kosher: You are well-versed in production processes, then? 

Daniel: That’s correct. 

OU Kosher: Do you also work with agencies like the FDA? 

Daniel: It’s a different area, but we assist with FDA registrations, though it’s not our main focus. 

OU Kosher: How do you determine which certification agency to work with, like why OU Kosher:  versus another agency? 

Daniel: It often depends on relationships, speed, and efficiency. We streamlined a large client’s kosher certification from 13 agencies down to two based on these factors. 

OU Kosher: So anyone in the industry looking for certification should consult with you to understand the big picture and expectations? 

Daniel: Precisely. Each of our team members is an expert in their certification area. 

OU Kosher: Do your experts assist clients with managing certifications through customer portals, like the OU’s? 

Daniel: While I personally do not, my team is skilled in this and can either train the company or manage it for them. 

OU Kosher: Are there companies that consult with you during the product development stage? 

Daniel: Yes, we work closely with flavor and ingredient houses, for example, to ensure that their new products meet all certification requirements. 

OU Kosher: Are you knowledgeable in other areas, like distribution or co-packing? 

Daniel: We offer advice and make connections based on our knowledge and past experiences but do not facilitate these processes ourselves. 

OU Kosher: If a customer wants to make a specific product, how do you assist them? 

Daniel: If a customer has a product in mind, we identify a company that can produce it and suggest they reach out. We’ve worked with many such companies in the past and can offer recommendations, but we don’t handle production ourselves. 

OU Kosher: So for a new company or startup, your services would be essential, right? 

Daniel: Yes, I believe our knowledge and experience with manufacturing facilities worldwide would make us a good fit for many smaller companies. 

OU Kosher: But you do charge for your services? 

Daniel: Yes, we aren’t free. We have to charge for our services. 

OU Kosher: How do you cost out your time? 

Daniel: We generally keep clients on a monthly retainer, ready to address any issues or needs as they arise. Some work is done on a project basis or even for a single item. 

OU Kosher: How do you bill? 

Daniel: Clients on retainer cover ongoing consultancy, and we manage any bills from agencies, backfilling our costs to them. We also offer an hourly or day rate for short-term needs, but this is less common. 

OU Kosher: What are some hazards of managing certifications internally? 

Daniel: An example is a yeast product with a dairy starter which is not recognized by the company, potentially resulting in mislabeling under kosher laws. Understanding these nuances can prevent costly mistakes. 

OU Kosher: How did your business begin? 

Daniel: It started after I sold my livestock feed company. Former clients sought help with certifications for their products, and that’s how we transitioned to focusing solely on the food sector. 

OU Kosher: How has the certification industry changed? 

Daniel: It’s becoming more complex with increased safety protocols, transparency, and detailed sourcing, like the recent USDA Organic program enforcement rules. 

OU Kosher: Do you use technology to assist your clients? 

Daniel: We don’t rely on technology for recommendations. While AI may play a role in the future, we believe in the value of hands-on verification and personal oversight. 

OU Kosher: How do you find your customers, or how do they find you? 

Daniel: Mostly through word of mouth, though we also attend trade shows. A strong referral from one satisfied client to another can lead to lasting partnerships. 

OU Kosher: What value do you provide when a company isn’t actively seeking certifications? 

Daniel: We handle audits, maintain compliance, manage bills, and provide continuity in case of personnel turnover. Our aim is to ensure all certifications remain active and that the facilities pass all audits. 

OU Kosher: Do you ever accompany rabbis on facility visits for OU Kosher:  audits? 

Daniel: Occasionally, we do, to ensure that every aspect of the facility’s operation meets certification requirements and to address any issues that arise from those visits. 

OU Kosher: Finally, what advice do you have for companies about certifications? 

Daniel: Our goal is to support companies in obtaining and maintaining their certifications, ensuring that their claims are valid and verifiable. We’re here to solve problems and provide assurance that there are no issues with their certification claims. 

OU Kosher: Daniel, thanks so much for your time and I really, I enjoyed learning about your truly unique services. I’m sure a lot of our OU koshercertified companies could benefit from what you do. 

Gary Magder