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Success in manufacturing can be summed up with one word: quality. The quality of the people you employ, the quality of the customer service you provide, and of course, the quality of the final product. Quality Control is essential in manufacturing because it ensures the final product meets the desired specification. Many customers have begun to require their suppliers to be ISO 9001 certified. One North Carolina manufacturer solicited the help of North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP) partner NC State University Industry Expansion Solutions (IES) to help them obtain a long-sought-after ISO certification.

Located in High Point, North Carolina and established in 1992, Metal Works of High Point provides metal fabrication solutions for their clients in contract office and institutional furniture, construction equipment, appliance, transportation, material handling and other industries. As a second-generation family-owned and operated business, they take pride in offering high-quality custom components with a focus on honesty, respect, and top-notch customer care. Now in charge at Metal Works of High Point are Jonathan Hall, the president and owner, and Elizabeth Hall, the vice president. Elizabeth remarks, “We pride ourselves on our culture. We’re a family-owned business which sets the tone for everyone here to treat each other like family and work towards a common goal.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that common goal was to achieve an ISO 9001 certification. Jonathan says, “We’ve wanted to be ISO certified since 2004 and some of our current customers were beginning to require their vendors to be ISO certified so we thought now was as good of a time as any. We wanted to be prepared for a post-COVID-19 world and take the steps necessary to put us in the best position possible.”

During this time, Jonathan says they received an email from NCMEP, “We received an email about the Emergency Assistance Program (EAP) grant from NCMEP.” Jonathan continued, “We filled out the form in the email describing how we wanted to be ISO certified and we were awarded the grant soon after that, which began our ISO certification journey.”

Metal Works of High Point was then connected to NCMEP partner IES to facilitate the ISO certification program, an organization they had a history with. “We’d previously worked with IES in 2004 and they left a positive impression on us so we were excited to work with them again.”, Jonathan mentioned.

IES regional manager Kami Baggett connected Metal Works of High Point with the IES assistant director of quality, Adrianne Kroll, who facilitated the program from January 2021 until August 2021. Elizabeth says, “Throughout the process, everyone we worked with at IES was encouraging. They gave us homework to learn how to implement what they were teaching us. When we thought we couldn’t do something, the trainer would point out, ‘Look, you’ve been doing this the whole time and you just didn’t realize. You just have to fine-tune it.'”

“They took what was seen as a very daunting task – something that seemed unachievable – and walked us through step by step. IES took this program and made it digestible for us.” Elizabeth adds, “The training we received has been invaluable. They helped us streamline our processes and calibrate how we train.” Metal Works of High Point started their ISO certification in January 2021 and completed it in November 2021.

The organization being ISO certified has opened Metal Works of High Point up to numerous opportunities with larger customers. “Larger customers will perform an audit and remark how well everything is being run. The change was almost instantaneous,” Jonathan says. As a result of the ISO certification, Metal Works of High Point realized $1,000,000 in increased sales in year 1 and estimates up to $5,000,000 in increased sales in year 2, $2,500,000 in total investment, $25,000 in total cost savings and 12 retained jobs and anticipates adding 20-30 jobs over the next 18 months.

Even after completing their ISO certification, IES regional manager Kami Baggett continued to follow up with Metal Works of High Point. “She’s connected us with people who work in economic development. She’s been a great asset.”, says Elizabeth. When asked what he took away from working with IES, Jonathan expressed, “If anybody is thinking about achieving their ISO certification or implementing any other program, we highly recommend IES. They gave us the confidence we needed and have always been there when we needed it.”