Nonprofit MEP Aids Small Biz

May 5, 2003
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For a small, minority owned machining and metal fabrication manufacturer such as Precision Tool Manufacturer (Greer, SC), the idea of achieving ISO 9002 certification might have seemed far-fetched. Given the costs and time involved in the certification process, many small manufacturers are not equipped to handle the extra burdens, even though they may need certification in order to attract larger customers.

When Merl Code, chief executive officer of Precision Tool, needed to position his company to compete for worldwide business, he turned to the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP, Columbia, SC), a nonprofit organization affiliated with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) formed to help manufacturers compete in the global marketplace.

Because Precision Tool is a small manufacturer, SCMEP had a ready-made solution for the company. The SCMEP staff was experienced in assisting other small manufacturers in achieving certification to this international quality management standard and could provide consulting and implementation services at a lower cost and via a faster process than Precision Tool could obtain alone. In addition, SCMEP also made grant monies available from the Minority Business Development Agency, a program specifically set up to help small, minority-owned manufacturers compete with larger competitors.

SCMEP assigned a staff person to act as project manager for Precision Tool's 9002 certification process, enabling project completion on time and under budget. Due to its nonprofit standing and the ability to deliver access to grant money, SCMEP was able to save Precision Tool about $20,000 on the entire process, taking just one year for the full implementation and certification notification from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Some companies, by contrast, spend up to three years on the process.

"SCMEP ensured that we received top-notch resources to design, develop and implement an ISO 9002-compliant quality system and train our employees," says Code. "Earning this certification ensures that we will be as competitive as possible in our pricing structure and production processes."

Besides the time and money savings, Code cites various benefits to using SCMEP to guide his facility through the ISO 9002 process. The arrangement enabled Precision Tool employees to continue with the daily business of machining and fabricating metal, leaving the certification details to the assigned project manager, he says. Further, during the course of certification, SCMEP was able to help Precision Tool with other improvements, including the purchase of quality control equipment, hiring an effective plant manager, and putting procurement and other financial procedures in place, Code adds.

With certification under its belt, Precision Tool Manufacturer has been able to attract business from blue-chip companies, including General Electric and Michelin.

SCMEP
www.scmep.org
(800) 637-4634 to have your call routed to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership that serves your region.

BENEFITS

  • Thanks to its nonprofit status and access to grants, SCMEP saved Precision Tool $20,000 in achieving ISO 2002 certification.
  • The small company was able to focus on its daily business of machining and fabricating metal, leaving the certification details to SCMEP.
  • The nonprofit organization was also able to help Precision Tool with other improvements, including the purchase of quality control equipment.
  • With certification in hand, the small firm has been able to attract business from large, blue-chip companies.

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