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December 30, 2003

For more information please contact:
Muriel Mosher
Tel: 207-623-0680

Kennebec Tool & Die Upgrades ISO Designation

AUGUSTA, ME - Kennebec Tool & Die of Augusta recently decided to upgrade its ISO 9000 designation to newly revised standards in an effort to continue to attract worldwide customers interested in dealing with a company dedicated to outstanding and consistent performance.

“We decided to upgrade to the new ISO9001: 2000 standard because there have been many revisions since we originally worked with the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Maine MEP) in the fall of 2000 on our original designation,” said Mike Craig, Quality Manager for Kennebec Tool & Die.

“Officials at Kennebec Tool & Die should be commended for their initiative in upgrading their ISO designation,” said Rod Rodrigue, president of the Maine MEP. “The original ISO standards were set in 1994, and many improvements and trends have changed since that time.”

Maine MEP has worked with many companies to complete the work necessary to receive an ISO designation during the past several years. “There is nothing easy about going through the ISO process,” Rodrigue said, “but our project managers and consultants are familiar with what it takes to receive an ISO designation and how to work with companies of all sizes to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.”

Craig agreed. “We had a wonderful experience with the Maine MEP when we went through the original ISO process,” he said, “so we decided to use the same consultants and registrar when we went through the initial upgrade audit.”

Everyone involved with the company believes the new designation is a great improvement because it focuses more on having employees understand each process within the company and understanding how one process impacts another. “That way, each employee can see how he or she is more than just an isolated component of the overall system,” Craig said.

To that end, meetings have been held with all 65 employees at Kennebec Tool & Die concerning the benefits of the recent designation and how it relates to each of them and how they contribute to the company’s success.

ISO is a derivative for the Greek word ‘isos’ which means equal and stands for “International Standards Organization,” and 9001:2000 signifies the company has met a rigorous set of internationally observed standards.

Since ISO was implemented at Kennebec Tool & Die in 2000, it has worked extremely well for the company, Craig said, because customers understand an ISO designation guarantees a properly applied standard that continually measures effectiveness and performance.

“That’s especially important to our customers,” Craig added. “In fact, our ISO designation has enabled us to purse a customer base which includes both the commercial aircraft and defense military markets.” Kennebec Tool & Die will soon begin working on another certification (AS9100) geared to the aerospace industry. “Getting certified is like taking a foreign language,” Craig said. “Once you have some of it, you have to continually build on it.”

In fact, Craig said, everything these days is about standardization. “A customer who has 10 to 15 suppliers has to make sure they all relate,” he said. “Believe me, there are real issues if there is no standardization.” Craig admits nothing comes easy with ISO certification. “There is extensive work involved and there is always a time factor to be considered,” he said. “But having a consultant work with us each time has kept us on track and allowed us to off-load some of the work.”

The Maine MEP is an affiliate of the NIST under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The national MEP is a network of manufacturing extension centers that provide business and technical assistance to smaller manufacturers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Through MEP, manufacturers have access to more than 2000 manufacturing and business “coaches” whose job is to help firms make changes that lead to greater productivity, increased profits, and enhanced global competitiveness. For more information on the Maine MEP program call 1-800-637-4634.