Myrtle Beach, S.C. — In today’s marketplace, companies lacking standard quality systems are generally passed over. Their work might be strong and consistent, but they still have difficulty selling themselves to customers who require assurance of excellence.
The South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Program (SCMEP) offers that very proof through its ISO 9001 Jumpstart program, which enhances quality and profits, while helping to retain old customers and secure new ones. The impact is demonstrable — it’s good for marketing and good for business.
SE Specialty Wire and Cable just completed ISO certification in August 2010, which was conducted and implemented by SCMEP, a strong sponsor of small and mid-sized, state businesses. The Murrells Inlet company is already reaping benefits as well. Sales for SE Specialty Wire and Cable are projected to increase 60 percent next year, attributed to the company becoming ISO compliant and a QPL vendor.
“Any new business or existing business is looking for an edge, or for any tool in the toolbox, that would help you be successful,” says company founder Jim Stanton. “SCMEP brings the whole toolbox, from the access to financial means, expertise and monitoring. You can’t help but be successful. Everyone should be taking advantage of this program. I would give SCMEP my highest recommendation.”
Stanton has 30 years of experience in the stranded wire and cable industry. His project work includes major undertakings in the lighting, communication, highvoltage and stranded cable and wire rope industries. Stanton and wife Sandra started SE Specialty Wire and Cable as an LLC in August 2007 after they recognized a void in the field. They put together a core group of seasoned professionals and launched production out of a 13,000 square foot facility in March 2008. The company specializes in the manufacture of stainless steel (all grades), inconel and most high nickel content alloys, as well as galvanized steel and phosphorous bronze, both tin-plated and bare CDA alloys. SE Specialty Wire and Cable supplies to the aerospace and push/pull industries, but its potential customer base includes the medical, emergency, snares, architectural and marine industries. While the company’s experience is rare, it’s only through ISO certification that SE Specialty can secure these additional customers. “It allows you to measure the effectiveness of a system,” Stanton says, “and whether it’s working or not.”
More than 160 countries recognize ISO — the International Organization for Standardization — as the preeminent body for standards. Implementation is procedure-based, and supported with policy, record-keeping, up-to-date equipment, resources and structure. More importantly, it acts as an agent for improvement within the company.
- Developing procedures to contain all key processes
- Scrutinizing processes to guarantee value
- Maintaining sufficient records
- Examining products for faults, and taking suitable and corrective action when needed
- Routinely checking individual processes and the entire quality system
- Ensuring continuous improvement
It may not be a “must have” for every business, but perhaps it should be. Certification means validation. It solidifies a company’s reputation in the minds of its existing and prospective clients. It’s the perfect B2B tool.
SCMEP provided SE Specialty Wire and Cable with a pair of ISO specialists to fully conduct and implement certification. The program follows a proven step-by-step process that trains all involved personnel in the ISO 9001 standard, while also creating a fully documented system.
Typically, a program overview is held regarding review and training in ISO 9001 requirements. Then it’s a matter of determining the processes, or job breakdowns and assembly work that need to be certified. Documentation and record-keeping are particularly important to ISO certification. It’s a standardized measure that encourages repeatability and accountability to ensure productivity. For example, if a mistake is made during assembly, the error is recorded in writing and corrective action is taken.
SCMEP helped SE Specialty Wire and Cable perform a total review of its quality management system with inspections and documentation of all process specifications. “I cannot tell you how valuable SCMEP was in the process,” Stanton says. “They’re very good at reporting in laymen terms what’s needed instead of what’s required.” SCMEP also customized the program to fit SE Specialty Wire and Cable’s business model. A core group of five employees are entrusted with the continuance of the system. Smaller staff can cause concerns, though SCMEP dissected each process to help make it manageable. “The goal was that it had to be a comprehensive system that could be sustained by just five people,” Stanton says. “(SCMEP) helped to ensure that.”
Before certification, an independent audit agency must verify ISO 9001 compliance. SE Specialty Wire and Cable passed the evaluation on its first try, something that less than 6 percent of all companies accomplish. “I’m very proud of that,” Stanton says. “We passed without any deficiencies.”
The ease of implementation has boosted the company’s confidence. It’s not an unwieldy or impractical process either, as SE Specialty Wire and Cable’s principal group of five employees are still able to maintain the system. It’s demonstrable, another measure of quality and efficiency to attract customers. “Had it not been for SCMEP, we would not be ISO 9001 certified,” Stanton says. “It’s going to make us very, very successful in a short period of time.”