From Site Selection magazine, March 2007

A Certifiable Advantage

A standards course gives New Mexico companies an edge.

Sennheiser USA makes wireless microphones at this 65,000- sq. ft. (6,000- sq.- m.) facility in Albuquerque, N.M. Production engineer Don Hanson (inset) says the state's ISO certification program gives companies like his a competitive edge when bidding for contracts.
hy more states aren't doing this is unclear, but New Mexico has a unique way for state businesses to distinguish themselves from competitors elsewhere. Since 1999, the state has provided low- cost ISO 9000 training to scores of New Mexico companies, giving them a competitive edge in the global marketplace. The program, called New Mexico 9000, is staffed by experts in standardization certification who conduct workshops in interpreting the ISO 9001- 2000 standard, procedure writing and compliance issues.
   ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, is a global network of more than 150 standards institutes that develop international standards in business and industry so that companies can more effectively do business in the global marketplace. The ISO 9000 family of standards pertain to quality management, primarily in these contexts: customer quality requirements, applicable regulatory requirements, customer satisfaction and process improvement. Companies in a large number of countries require ISO 9001:2000 certification, as do major U.S. corporations and government agencies. (For more on the specifics of ISO 9000 and other ISO standards, visit
   "The New Mexico 9000 program was part of a very complete package offered by the state of New Mexico," says Don Hanson, production quality engineer for safety and training at Sennheiser USA, a Wedermark, Germany- based maker of wireless microphones and receivers used in the entertainment industry. In 2000, the company selected an Albuquerque location for its 65,000- sq. ft. (6,000- sq.- m.) production facility over a site in the Washington, D.C., area in part due to the New Mexico 9000 program. "It was very cost- effective for us – it ended up costing less than $1,000," notes Hanson. Half the upfront cost, which is based on the company's in- state gross receipts, is refunded upon completion of the program.

Program Benefits
   "I am a complete fan of the New Mexico 9000 program," adds Hanson. "It is the best ISO program I have ever seen run by a state in the country. I have seen other states' attempts to encourage it, but this program actually helps companies do it. New Mexico offers the help. The instructors are outstanding."
   The main benefit of the program at Sennheiser is continuity of processes. "Once you have a documented process and you follow it, then things are always done the same way. People get into the habit of following that process," says Hanson. "At the same time, everybody knows that they can be changed, but there is a process for doing that. Also, productivity has grown phenomenally. We are now producing easily 10 times what we were to start with. ISO is a business process, and once you get in the habit of a process, improvements come on top of improvements."
   While it's hard to attribute specific financial benefits to New Mexico 9000, Sennheiser has been growing steadily since it completed the program in 2001. Payroll has grown from 40 to 150 employees, and sales have jumped from $10 million to $50 million, for example.
   Credit for organizing and implementing New Mexico 9000 goes to Ken Manicki, program manager at the New Mexico Department of Economic Development. A veteran of the mechanical engineering faculty of New Mexico State University, Manicki organized the program at the request of state officials.
   "About 125 companies have been through the program, and 34 companies have become ISO certified," says Manicki. At the completion of the coursework, companies are given a letter confirming their participation; the companies use the letter when they bid on contracts, particularly those requiring ISO certification. "One company recently won a $2.5- million contract, and another won a $20- million contract based on that letter," says Manicki.
   "This program opens up the door for these companies for more business and makes them more competitive," he adds. "They become leaner in their operations, because they have procedures to work to. It makes them more desirable as a company with which to do business."


©2007 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. SiteNet data is from many sources and not warranted to be accurate or current.