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March 26, 2012

For more information please contact:
Zenagui Brahim
Tel: (603) 226-3200

Advantage Plastic Products Achieves ISO 9001 Certification With Support from New Hampshire MEP
ISO 9001 Collaborative approach helps small manufacturers meet international quality standards to bid on new business and penetrate new markets

CONCORD, NH - Recognizing that collaboration rather than competition is sometimes the best approach for achieving business goals, a new initiative sponsored by the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NH MEP) is helping manufacturers achieve international quality standards. Known as the ISO 9001 Collaborative, the model employs a team approach to helping companies prepare themselves for ISO 9001 certification.

The approach is winning converts and, at the same time, reducing the cost of ISO certification for companies like Advantage Plastic Products, Inc., (APP). Concord-based APP recently affirmed its commitment to quality by successfully achieving ISO: 9001:2008 certification. The company praised the ISO 9001 Collaborative model and emphasized the significant cost savings resulting from its partnership with NH MEP.

“Getting involved in the NH MEP ISO Collaborative was the best move we ever made,” said Joel Beaudette, APP’s vice president of sales. “The cost of certification for a small company like ours had initially been a concern. But the collaborative price structure was much easier to deal with than if we had done this on our own.”

Typically, the cost of participating in the NH MEP ISO Collaborative is approximately half of what a company might pay going through the program independently.

The NH MEP Collaborative ISO 9001 Program is specifically designed for small to medium-sized enterprises with limited resources that are interested in achieving the highest international quality standards. The program employs a systematic approach to implementing the ISO 9001 standard. Monthly workshops delivered by MEP instructors are combined with homework assignments and templates that can be customized by each participating company. Participants work on their companies’ quality management systems, training a quality team and preparing for ISO audits, over a seven month period. In addition to the workshops, the NH MEP instructors provide individualized coaching and attend the company ISO audits.

The unique collaborative approach was hailed by participating companies and enables ISO teams to learn from each other as well as from the MEP instructors.

“The friendly competitiveness between companies in the Collaborative brings positive results such as a deeper understanding of the content, increased overall achievement, improved outcomes and higher motivation to remain on task,” said NH MEP Center Director Zenagui Brahim. “Generally, participants in the program achieve full compliance to the ISO standards.”

With 18 employees, Advantage Plastic Products was the second largest company participating in the Collaborative. Another company had approximately 10 employees, two had just a few people each and the fifth company had more than 200 employees.

“The Collaborative brought together a good mix of companies,” said APP’s Beaudette. “The needs were different, but it was good to hear about other companies’ issues and perspectives and share ideas that could be related to our own situation.”

The NH MEP Executive Director noted that many companies attempt to secure ISO certification on their own before turning the NH MEP. In the case of Advantage Plastic Products, the company had formed an internal ISO certification team and had been working on the implementation of ISO standards for some time, but had been unable to make much headway before joining the Collaborative program.

Brahim pointed to the some of the benefits enjoyed by companies that achieve ISO 9001:2008 certification.

“In today’s extremely competitive market, ISO certification can make a difference. It is internationally recognized, which is vital for global suppliers, and its standards help ensure consistent customer satisfaction. In addition, implementing ISO 9001 helps companies organize and streamline processes, and this often leads to greater efficiencies and cost savings,” said Brahim.

Some of participants of the ISO 9001 Collaborative joined the program because their major clients now require them to become ISO certified. Others tried to bid on new business and could not because they were not certified; while others want to reposition themselves in the marketplace and penetrate new market segment but could not do so without ISO certification.

The International Organization for Standardization (IOS) based in Geneva, Switzerland, is the source of the ISO 9000 family of quality management standards. IOS has a network of national standards institutes from 146 countries working in partnership with international organizations, governments, industry, business and consumer representatives.

About NH MEP

The NH MEP is an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The national MEP system 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 2,000 manufacturing and business “coaches” whose job is to help firms make changes that lead to greater productivity, increased profits and enhanced global competitiveness. For information on the MEP Lean Energy and Environment program, please visit, or phone 1-603-226-3200.