Volume 42, Issue 11 - November 2007

Guest Book

Eye on Quality 
Why Being An ISO-Certified Company Matters
by George Smith 
 
In 1997 the New Jersey Department of Labor asked our company to join a consortium of 18 other manufacturers in making the commitment to achieve the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9002 Certification of Quality in training and procedures. After only 18 months, we became the first in that consortium to complete the program. We received certification for the fabrication and distribution of flat glass products for the architectural and residential markets including tempered, spandrel and insulating glass. In 2003, we upgraded our certification to ISO 9001-2000 and renewed it in March 2005. 

Through the ISO certification process, a company can achieve what many others strive for: meeting or exceeding customers’ expectations. Here is why being an ISO-certified company matters:

Streamlining Work 
By creating formal written documents of procedures and forms for process verification and monitoring, companies can improve productivity and quality. These procedures eliminate wasted motions and avoidable interruptions. Because employees are often required to sign off on any procedure change, manufacturers can continue to fine-tune these procedures.

Delivering Superior Service
By recommending certain customer-focused procedures to continuously improve service, ISO can help companies better focus on their clients. One way to do this is by instituting a formal customer complaint system with mandatory follow-up, customer satisfaction monitoring via written survey, biannual customer forums and ongoing feedback from sales personnel about the ways in which products and services can be improved. By focusing on the customer in concrete ways, ISO can help companies continuously improve. 

Improving Product Offerings
Investigating customer suggestions is one way companies can improve their product offerings. For example, our company upgraded its heat-treating quality through the use of light-sentry equipment that measures roller-wave distortion. We made these changes based on input from our customers.

Increasing Employee Morale
At our company, developing a quality policy and posting it throughout the plant and offices helped make employees feel that they are part of a unified team. Also, by giving employees detailed procedures to follow and the necessary training, they’re working in the most efficient manner to meet goals. All of our newly-hired employees learn how ISO affects our bottom line and how they will be accountable for following its guidance. 

Creating a Team Environment
Individual titles do not matter at an ISO-certified company. What is important is how team members help each other achieve results. Everyone, including the company president, contributes to the process. Working and training side by side creates teamwork.

Improving Communication
As our company’s ISO coordinator, I hold a management review meeting on a monthly basis to address issues, review changes and discuss annual quality goals and objectives. This helps keep us focused on what needs to be done today to plan for a successful tomorrow. By keeping everyone informed of the challenges and goals achieved, managers can communicate this information to their colleagues. There is no miscommunication. Everyone knows what is expected. 

Encouraging Others
Having ISO certification also helps bring a high level of trust, according to Michael Z. Nicklas, our architectural sales and marketing manager. Companies that seek superior customer service and a high-quality product understand what the ISO certification means.

Our suppliers also want to better serve their customers through improved service and quality. To motivate them, we measure their performance, communicate and give out awards for going the extra mile to deliver superior service and product. They feel good about their achievement and we have created a positive working relationship. 

Staying Focused
Every year ISO expects certified companies to achieve certain goals. This year we will use feedback we received from customers via forums and surveys to improve our website. We also will deliver new products to customers from our new facility in Pedricktown, N.J. 

George Smith serves as owner’s rep and ISO coordinator for J.E. Berkowitz L.P. in Pedricktown, N.J. Mr. Smith’s opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this magazine.


USG
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