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ISO 9001 at J.T. Fennell – A Case Study
J.T. Fennell is a small/medium size steel fabrication business in Illinois, providing machined weldments to large OEMs such as Deere & Caterpillar. The company's ISO implementation strategy was to use 9001Simplified's Do-It-Yourself toolkit, and generate employee awareness and buy-in with e-learning and video training programs. After a five-day audit, the company achieved ISO 9001 certification in September 2020.
J.T. Fennell employs about 120 people at two separate facilities in Chillicothe and Peoria, both about 370 miles southeast of Chicago. On-site equipment include seven lasers, two oxy-fuel burners, four shot blast work centers, and a paint booth for larger parts. In-house process capabilities include:
Burning, sawing, forming and rolling
Machining and painting
J.T. Fennell isn't only a modern, high-quality production company. It's also a family business, now in its third generation, with a special commitment to its mostly long-term employees and the community in which it operates.
The company's ISO implementation team included seven members of staff
The ISO 9001 certification audit was conducted over the course of five days
The auditors inspected processes at both of the company's premises in Illinois
The Road to ISO 9001
Despite having a reputation for delivering high-quality products, a growing number of customers began insisting that J.T. Fennell obtain ISO 9001 certification. ISO, often considered for its marketing advantages, had become a necessity. Confirmation that their business processes were as effective and efficient as possible was a secondary consideration when executive management committed to ISO 9001.
Going after the certification was for the future of the company, with the marketing potential for new business clearly in mind as well as opportunities for improvement.
J.T. Fennell first approached 9001Simplified in early 2019. They wanted help with their ISO implementation and advice as to which products would be best suited to their needs. Executive management had already committed to implementing ISO 9001 in-house rather than using a consultant. To quote the company's president, Ty Fennell: "it is better for a company to achieve without being directed or steered by an outsider. More ownership".
The Implementation Phase
J.T. Fennell purchased the ISO 9001 Certification Package and a combination of online and video training courses, and began work on their ISO implementation towards the end of 2019. The implementation team was lead by Ty Fennell and Russ Snyder, senior project manager; there were seven staff members on the team.
Having top executives not only sponsor but actively implement ISO 9001 had a positive effect on getting all employees on board. The implementation team used the ISO 9001:2015 Basics video training to inform staff about the standard and create a new mindset that would allow for changes to long-established work routines. The workforce fully bought into ISO when they understood what it meant for the future of the company.
With top management being the driving force and employees fully committed, implementation was thorough and focused on improvements to all business processes. The implementation team fully utilized the Do-It-Yourself toolkit, followed the project guide step by step, and developed custom documentation that precisely fits the needs and circumstances of this family business.
The leaders of the implementation team communicated with Carl Fallon, the senior consultant assigned by 9001Simplified to J.T. Fennell's ISO project, only on occasion to solicit confirmation of their efforts.
After only three months, an internal audit program was established and a team of four auditors was trained using the online ISO 9001:2015 Auditor Training. Rather than rushing to get certified, J.T. Fennell used its internal audit program to fine-tune the ISO system and spread best practices throughout the organization.
The Certification Audit
In September 2020, J.T. Fennell had their registrar, DQS Inc., conduct the certification audit. Audit activities took place over the course of five days and covered both of the company's facilities. J.T. Fennell passed the audit at their first attempt and achieved ISO 9001 accreditation on September 23, 2020.
The audit was a five-day event at our two locations. The auditor liked our system, commenting on the depth of it and the effort put into it.
For J.T. Fennell, ISO 9001 certification had become a prerequisite for bidding in an increasing number of projects. The company's main objective was achieved on the day of accreditation. Since then, J.T. Fennell has seen a significant increase in sales and an expansion of its customer base – already enough to outweigh the cost of certification.
Internally, the certification process has highlighted both strengths and weaknesses in operations and administration. Through the ISO 9001 QMS, several production sequences have been streamlined and production and ultimately delivery times shortened.
If you too are looking for successful ISO 9001 that's customized to your specific needs, get in touch now and let our experts assist and guide you.
J.T. Fennell Co., Inc.
1104 N Front St
Chillicothe, IL 61523
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