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The beat on quality: Florida Drum earns ISO 9002 certification for its plastic division.

WITH TRADE INCREASING between the United States and European manufacturers, companies around the globe have developed a system to determine quality.

The result is International Standards Organization 9000 series certification.

Florida Drum Co.'s plastic division quality system recently received ISO 9002 certification. The Pine Bluff company, the major supplier of both steel and plastic drums in the Southeast, is the first plastic drum producer in the country and the eighth manufacturer in Arkansas to receive ISO 9000 certification.

"The 9000 requirements are detailed," says Florida Drum sales manager Steve Lux. "They assure that the person doing business with you knows you have a quality system in place that is capable. This is being given huge importance because of the increased trade between nations."

The worldwide quality standards were established five years ago by the ISO at Geneva, Switzerland, and have been adopted by more than 25 countries. ISO certification has become standard among European Community companies, and the United States is catching up.

"The day is coming that to do business in the U.S. with a major firm, you will have to have ISO certification even if you don't export your products," Lux says. "What you have is kind of a domino effect where people who export are required to be ISO certified, and they are requiring their vendors to be ISO certified as well."

Florida Drum has been in existence in Pine Bluff since 1976. The company, with approximately 100 employees, manufactures non-bulk containers -- primarily steel and plastic drums in the 15-55 gallon size -- for nationwide distribution.

Even though the company does not directly trade with European firms, a large portion of its business involves sales to chemical companies which in turn export the drums.

"It's a greatly growing business for us," Lux says.

So, even though Florida Drum may not yet have to worry about ISO certification with the U.S. companies it does business with, "We tried to get ahead of the curve and get our certification before we were asked or demanded to get our certification," Lux says.

The ISO established a series of certification. The 9001 is for firms in manufacturing and also with much design work; companies such as Ford Motor Co. or IBM that introduce new products. The 9002 is mainly for those that manufacture while 9003 is for companies primarily involved in distribution.

"We discovered in this process of certification that most of the required ISO systems were essentially in place, but we had to perform a company-wide effort to document the system and make a few modifications," says Chris Long, Florida Drum's chief executive officer. "It was a time-consuming effort, but all of us are proud that we made it on the first try.

"We will continue to monitor our adherence to this high standard, which has to be recertified in three years, with surveillance audits twice annually to be sure we're on target with our total quality program."

Robert Johnson, quality and process improvement director at Florida Drum, chaired the team that pursued the ISO certification.

Florida Drum is now seeking certification for its steel division in Pine Bluff as well as plants at Pensacola, Fla., and Harrisburg, N.C. It has received unconditional approval from an audit team for the Pine Bluff steel division.

The American Bureau of Shipping Quality Evaluations Inc. from Houston performs the extensive audits required by the ISO for companies throughout North and South America.

ABS makes a preassessment, then presents a write-up on the quality to the company, which is given time to correct any deficiencies before a final audit is scheduled.

"It's a very expensive process to go through," Lux says. "A company would have to figure it costing 1 percent of their annual sales. That's a good ballpark figure."

Lux says the certification is something U.S. business people will be hearing more about. "It's the coming standard for anyone to stay in business."

Other Arkansas companies with ISO certification are Arkansas Eastman Co., Great Lakes Chemical Corp., Ethyl Corp., Skil Corp., Emerson Electric Co., White Rogers Division in Batesville and Harrison and the Crosby Group in Jacksonville.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Journal Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Across Arkansas; Florida Drum Co. Inc., International Standards Organization
Author:Harris, Jim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Nov 2, 1992
Previous Article:A question of succession.
Next Article:Bouncing back.

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