Zimmermann Printing earns ISO certification with LTC training Workforce Solutions takes quality improvement to Sheboygan printer
It’s not that Zimmermann Printing wasn't continually trying to improve its processes. The Sheboygan printer often looked for ways to “do it better.”
“We would see benefits from a change in a process,” said David Zimmermann, president and owner of Zimmermann Printing, “but the problem was, the change wouldn't stick.”
That’s when Zimmermann started seriously looking at bringing ISO certification standards to his company. Although he had been deterred for years by ISO standards geared to large companies, Zimmerman was encouraged by the new 2008 standards that became more reachable by small businesses. He decided to jump into the ISO certification process after a meeting with Kristin Abell, LTC Workforce Solutions Entrepreneurship & Workforce Solutions sales director.
“I was talking with Kristin about ISO at a Rotary meeting one day and within a month she got the project started,” Zimmermann said. “She did an outstanding job of lining up the resources and getting things going.”
In October 2009 Zimmermann chose four ISO certification team members—one each from pre-press, press, customer service and office management—to attend the weekly trainings with LTC Quality Assurance Instructor Tony Gischia. During the certification training, the team hit on every process in the company, from when an order came in, to delivery, to invoicing. Together with Gischia, they broke down each process and documented standards that could be consistently adhered to in each process. Because Zimmermann had already been recording many of its processes, the team found itself ahead of schedule midway through the nine-month training.
As small business owner, Zimmermann said it is hard to be personally involved with large projects from start to finish. But, he said, because LTC did such an excellent job he believes his ISO team is well-trained to carry out the process.
“Tony did not do the work for the team,” Zimmermann said. “Instead of giving you fish, Tony teaches you how to fish. Now we have four excellent individuals to carry ISO through.”
For Zimmermann, one of the biggest benefits to completing the ISO certification process can be found in his employees. He said they have changed their attitudes about addressing problems.
“Some employees who thought their input didn’t count now know their opinions are looked at and they feel more involved,” he said. “With ISO standards, they have a voice and a formalized process and anyone can bring anything forward.”
In addition to empowering his employees, Zimmermann has found that the ISO label has given his company a competitive advantage. Just recently a multi-billion dollar company contacted the printer about pricing out some new projects, preferring ISO-certified vendors.
“This will help us with large companies,” he said. “They will know that if we are ISO certified they can be assured of high quality.”
LTC’s Abell agrees.
“This was a big commitment for Zimmermann,” she said, “and it will help them keep and build customer relationships and open new doors.”
Since completing its audit and receiving the official ISO certification in July, Zimmermann has continued its training with LTC, hosting Six Sigma Green and Black Belt training this fall.
“With the latest round of Lean training, Zimmermann is looking specifically at scheduling.” Abell said. “Our flexible training design means the company can send three of its own employees to training right on site and LTC can invite other area employers to the course as well. That way we are able to accommodate the needs of Zimmermann as well as outside people.”