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Marine suppliers focus on quality for business growth

Gael Force Group Ltd focus on quality for business growth and turn to SQMC for ongoing consultancy support to achieve ISO 9001:2008.

Highland firm Gael Force Group Ltd turned to the Scottish Quality Management Centre (SQMC) to provide ongoing consultancy support to help achieve ISO 9001:2008 which laid the foundation for Gael Force to help meet its business goal of achieving ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 in order to improve efficiencies and help bolster the company’s bottom line by improving its competitive advantage.

Gael Force is a multifaceted marine business which has been operating since 1983, which supplies marine equipment to markets throughout the UK and Europe.

SQMC was approached by its former student Shona Lynn, now Quality Manager at Gael Force, to help with Gael Force’s ISO 9001:2008 implementation.

Shona set up a quality management system for Gael Force which has 35,000 products on its books and employs 140 staff across five different sites in Inverness, Stornoway, Forres, Plymouth and Glasgow.

SQMC’s Director of Programmes Karen MacKenzie provided in-house consultancy support which included delivering workshops with Gael Force’s top management to enable them to understand their own role within the quality management system. She also reported back to the Board with advice on how to go forward in implementing the international quality standards across this complex, high level business with its diverse portfolio of marine products.

Shona explained: “In early 2013 Gael Force launched a five year strategic growth plan which required the company to build its capacity for the future. This required the development and implementation of policies and procedures across the group which would regularise the approach taken by the company on all aspects of business.

“ISO 9001 accreditation has also been a prerequisite to do business with some potential clients in some of our target markets, but the biggest gain for the company since achieving accreditation has been managing and controlling risk across all activities, both our existing activities and how we approach new ones.

We strongly believe that having quality at the heart of Gael Force’s approach to business and having sound and appropriate quality management systems in place undoubtedly create a competitive advantage for Gael Force.”

As Quality Manager, Shona’s day-to-day duties include maintaining, developing and monitoring the quality management system to ensure ISO 9001 standards are maintained, providing ongoing training, and supporting staff when they implement procedures.

Speaking about SQMC’s support throughout the accreditation process, Shona said: “SQMC’s trainers are extremely focused and deliver information in very simple terms. This was invaluable when training our very experienced staff, whose main priority is not necessarily ISO 9001. The benefit of working with SQMC is that they will do everything they can to help and support their customer, even when it means responding to queries
/question at the weekend, and I found them a huge help throughout the process.”

Shona concluded: “Obtaining ISO 9001:2008 certification for Gael Force Group has been my greatest achievement to date. It is by far the most complex company I have ever worked in. The biggest challenge has been to maintain a consistent approach to quality in such a diverse and complex company across all five of its sites.

I’d like to recognise the efforts of Stewart Graham, Group Managing Director throughout the process of ISO 9001 accreditation as this was invaluable. His support and drive were critical to the company achieving certification we would not have received the certificate. I must also highlight the hard work of our Directors and Line Managers who dedicated their time to learning about ISO 9001, produced documented procedures and provided support, all to ensure that we achieved ISO 9001 accreditation.”

Stewart Graham, Owner and Managing Director of Gael Force, said: “Gael Force took the approach at the outset of the project that what we wanted was for real value to be added to the business of attaining accreditation. It was not a ‘badge’ of accreditation that was the objective in the project but the development and implementation of a Quality Management System that built capacity in the company. In this we are satisfied we have achieved what we set out to do and have added value for all the stakeholders of the Gael Force Group, not least our customers.”

Speaking about the work undertaken with Gael Force Group and the impact it has had on the company, SQMC’s Karen MacKenzie commented: “The Gael Force project clearly shows that the International Standard really can be used to grow business for all types and sizes of organisation from the very small and straightforward to larger ones of the complexity of Gael Force where they have a dedicated and competent QA Manager to take them there”. All of the hard work from Shona and the senior management team meant that Gael Force Group received ISO 9001 certification with plaudits from the certification awarding body and continue to go from strength to strength. ”