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ISO9001 for the SME. A Case Study

Oct 25, 2013 | general, ISO 9001

Mark Sutton Non Ferrous is that rare thing, an enterprise using skills that are over three thousand years old, trading with major customers across the UK, and about to benefit from ISO9001 accreditation as an SME “punching above it’s weight”

Someone from a government-funded business development department would probably tell owner Mark Sutton that he’d be better off being a web designer or retraining in media studies. No, his skills as a foundryman are not part of a heritage theme park just yet.

He’s pouring hot metal somewhere on the outskirts of Nottingham, making a living, and doing something he truly loves.

In fact, far from being in a dying trade, he does have customers waiting to place major orders, but, until now, with some of the larger ones, this hasn’t been possible. No, there’s no issue with quality of the work, pricing or lead times. Some potential orders are simply dependant on Mark’s small business attaining accreditation.

Now, Mark being a resourceful chap, would have loved to have found an “idiot’s guide” on the internet, and done the work himself for very little cost. But, as he found, such instant fixes don’t really exist. Being by nature self-reliant, the prospect of getting someone in to advise was certainly against his basic principles. He confesses that this was a financial risk. But then he called Colin Brown of ISO Consultants.

Many working in the quality and standards industry have only ever seen a factory floor in documentary films. However, Colin began his working life as a craft apprentice for one of Nottingham’s biggest manufacturers, and, as a child, was taken to his father’s workplace and shown molten metal being poured at a much bigger foundry, the long-gone Stanton Iron Works in Ilkeston. So, there was an immediate affinity.

Colin’s style is simple, straightforward, and realistic. Mark was surprised that, to attain the required standard, his innate skill in production and dedication to quality simply needed to be analysed and documented, with Colin simply slotting observed best practice into a formalised quality management system. Was the whole process daunting? No, confesses Mark. Colin “did it all” and sat with the assessor during the audit.

Small businesses may fear that ISO9001 approval is costly, complex and irrelevant. Not so. Mark now gets calls from major customers asking, ”How’s the ISO9001 approval gone?” and “let us know when you’ve got it”.

It’s early days for Mark Sutton Non Ferrous as an ISO9001 approved SME, but the no-nonsense skilled foundryman Mark is more than convinced that it’s been a wise investment.


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