The word quality can be used in many ways, but on its own it is fairly vague.
When I was a student some of my housemates came home one day with a few crates of lager from a supermarket. The description emblazoned on the front of each can was “Quality Lager”. There was no other detail, no explanation, just…”Quality Lager”.
What did this promise? Was it superb? Was it slightly above average? Was it going to peel the roof from your mouth?
We didn’t know, but being in the business of educating ourselves at the time, we decided to find out. We transformed a wheelie bin into an impromptu cooler and while I can’t remember a great deal of the evening I do know that the beer tasted bloody awful.
In terms of outward appearances versus true quality, the opposite was the case with LPC Components when I bought the company in January 2014. The operation was rough around the edges: from lack of stock control and documented procedures, to ineffective cost control, the systems were roundly out-dated. But at its core this was a company that cared deeply about its customers, possessed excellent technical knowledge and produced outstanding products. It was quality that shone through.
We decided to focus on two key principals: Growth & Continuous Improvement and to achieve those objectives we implemented a Total Quality Management system in accordance with the requirements of ISO9001 – and were certified within the first year. Now I’m as proud of the flawless running of the business, our hard-working and highly skilled staff and our responsive customer communication as I am with quality of our products.
But we’re not resting on our laurels. We continue to push to grow the business and improve every aspect of what we do on a daily basis – to better serve our customers’ needs.
Last week we had our fourth external audit and the result was zero observations, zero minor non-conformances and zero major non-conformances. In other words it was a clean sheet. It was a huge stamp of approval and I am incredibly proud of every member of staff, each of whom has embraced the philosophy and put it into action.
We are also on track to have our most successful year in terms of sales and profit!
Just before our audit I found one member of staff going around cleaning the wheelie bins in the factory. He wanted them to be spotless and whilst I hope to God he wasn’t planning on using them to cool lager, it showed a degree of care and attention that typifies our employees’ commitment to the company’s success.
I have a “Quality Team” and a “Quality Business” and it tastes even more sweet because I know where we’ve come from, and we all know where we’re going.
Gareth Jones, LPC Components