ISO – Positioning a Company Towards Global Competitiveness
We know obtaining ISO registration is no easy feat. In fact, it often requires the involvement of multiple people within the company over multiple months. We want to take a moment to recognize the hard work put forth by a St. Louis company who took its ISO journey and turned it into a global opportunity.
Thorstein Holt had been working in the industrial gas field for 15 years before he made the decision to start his own company. He knew he could deliver products and services to his customers better, faster and in a different way. Thorstein, wanting to share his level of expertise, officially opened Holtec in Chesterfield, Mo, in 1999. Holtec Gas Systems is an internationally recognized, experienced designer and supplier of nitrogen generation systems – designing fabricated nitrogen generators for a variety of industrial manufacturing, chemical, oil & gas and food & beverage applications worldwide.
In 2017, the company needed help with obtaining ISO registration. While engaging in multiple networking events, including several at the St. Louis World Trade Center, Thorstein connected with Missouri Enterprise. He later met in person with Missouri Enterprise team member LauraLee Rose who thoroughly explained what would be needed for the company to achieve its goal.
“I knew at the beginning that she was the best fit and the most experienced for the job,” said Thorstein.
The main reason for Holtec to embark on the ISO registration journey was to better position itself to compete for certain jobs and projects as many companies require the ISO credential. Secondly, the company had a desire for its employees to follow standard processes to deliver the projects consistently and efficiently with high-quality products meeting or exceeding their customers requirements and expectations.
“Holtec was missing out on sales opportunities both domestic and international,” said Laura Lee, “because it lacked a robust quality management system. While they had ISO documents, they weren’t being consistently followed.”
“We were aware that it was common for employees to deviate from the processes we had in place. We knew that obtaining ISO on our own was not going to happen. We needed an expert to pull it all together,” said Thorstein.
Solution: With the guidance from Missouri Enterprise, Holtec began weeding out documentation that it didn’t need and replacing it with better processes. After approximately nine months of Holtec working towards ISO, the Missouri Enterprise team conducted a pre-audit which showed that Holtec was ready. The registrars passed Holtec with flying colors the first time around, giving the company high notes and praise.
As the company approaches its one-year ISO registration anniversary, it prepares for another audit. But because the new processes have been incorporated into the company’s culture, Thorstein is more than confident Holtec will maintain the ISO registration.
“We have been aggressively documenting our processes and the team as a whole has been vigilant about doing what they are supposed to do – it has now become second nature to us all,” said Thorstein.
Results: If there’s an issue with a valve or other components, the company now documents it, contacts the manufacturer to develop a solution, and then has a process in place to ensure the same issue doesn’t happen again. If an issue turns into a problem, Holtec now has a process in place to quickly remedy it by working with another supplier. Another major takeaway for the company is efficiency with the product development department.
“We used to come up with new products because we thought we needed to. Now, we have the thought behind it and can streamline and validate product decisions,” said Thorstein.
Before the company became certified, it would run into issues with customers that required the certification. There were even instances when a company refused to compensate Holtec for products or services until proper ISO documentation was provided and this requirement was imposed after the system was delivered rather than before the order was placed. Now, after going through the ISO registration process, Holtec can relate to the desire of working exclusively with other ISO registered companies.
“Before we have anyone assemble our products, we now always check for their certification,” said Thorstein.
As a result of obtaining the ISO registration, the company has experienced an increase in sales in the amount of $500,000, a cost savings of $50,000, and has added new part and full time employees to its team.
Thorstein said, “We have been able to increase efficiency and do more with less. But with demand for our product increasing, followed by a boost in sales, we knew we needed to expand our team. It’s a great feeling to know that we are expanding as a result of high efficiency and productivity and not because we are chasing down problems. It’s a testament to the ISO process.”
In the Numbers:
Increased Sales $500,000
Retained Sales $500,000
Cost Savings $50,000
New Jobs 1 full-time, 1 part-time and one 1 full-time temporary agency worker