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20 January 2015

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Case Study: Gemini Adhesives

Gemini Adhesives manufacture the most technically advanced range of adhesives and flexible extrusions that can be found across the globe. With contracts including schools, hospitals and new builds, Gemini strives to be as environmentally friendly as possible without compromising on quality.

Gemini was certified to both the quality management standard, ISO 9001, and the environmental management standard, ISO 14001, in January 2014. In this case study Andy Douglas, Director, tells us why achieving these standards was so important, and how their company is already reaping the benefits.

Gemini's Andy Douglas discusses ISO 9001 and ISO 14001

The challenge

As a dynamic and innovative SME, bringing unique products to the marketplace, Gemini was keen to bolster their standing and credibility through the application of a series of international standards. As with many small businesses, Gemini were held back from their aspirations to grow and enter new markets as they did not hold the relevant ‘badges’ for their industry. Andy Douglas, responsible for Research and Development and Marketing, tells us more,

“Before we had the certifications in place we would be sent away by the big building contractors. They would commend us on our product range and ethos but they required the ISO ‘badges’ throughout their supply chains – without them, we just weren’t taken seriously. We were told to ‘go away and sort ourselves out’, before even being considered as a reputable supplier.”

To address this challenge, Andy and his business partner, and brother, Chris, approached Alan Best, a leading Sustainability Consultant, to advise them on the next steps and which standards to go for; Alan’s advise was unequivocal,

“Gemini had developed an innovative and safer flooring product which required effective promotion to major construction companies and Facilities Management professionals. It was therefore essential that they achieve ISO 9001 and 14001 certification in order to achieve stringent approved supplier status with major organisations and to demonstrate a commitment to professional management standards across their manufacturing and logistics operations.”

The solution

It was Alan that recommended the British Assessment Bureau, based on his knowledge of their experience of working with small businesses. Alan says,

“I was aware of the solid reputation of BAB in guiding smaller companies through the process and felt that they were the right match for Gemini.”

Prior to the formal audit, all clients are visited beforehand to see what they already have in place. This helps to identify what gaps need to be filled in order to meet the requirements of their chosen standard. Andy admitted that this was a daunting task at the outset for their small management team, with all managerial and administrative functions coordinated by their CEO, Chris Douglas. Whilst Gemini was already run as a tight ship, Andy admitted that many processes were stored in Chris’ head, rather than written down, which was potentially damaging should Chris have to leave the business for any reason!

“Whilst, at first, it was hard to see the internal benefit of implementing the processes involved, it soon became apparent how this would improve the way we worked as an organisation. Using the ISO 9001 framework, we have been able to segment departments and responsibilities more efficiently and, as a result, it has made us more accountable – to each other and to clients.”

Impressively, Gemini successfully achieved both ISO 9001 and 14001 in less than 10 weeks. The speed that Andy, Chris and their team achieved successful implementation of the standard demonstrates that they were already doing a lot of things right. Whilst they may seem daunting at first glance, as Gemini demonstrated, achieving certification is straight-forward for any well run business. Andy commented how their BAB assessor was there to support them through this process,

“We had great rapport with our BAB assessor; Chris worked alongside Mark in both the pre-assessment and final audit and found him to be very professional and helpful.”

Gemini Adhesives' products

The results

BAB is committed to ensuring clients progress and achieve outstanding results through the application of effective standards and management best practice. The benefits of this include a more motivated workforce, less re-work and increased customer satisfaction. Clients tell BAB that gaining certification can also help to gain funding, qualify for tenders and set them apart from competitors. Andy says;

“Having the ISO standards in place has helped us hugely and we are a better company as a result. Internally, it helped us to establish responsibilities for each department and get more organised – it has given us a much better foundation to grow and develop.”

Andy has also found that meeting the requirements of ISO 14001 provided them with much of the groundwork for achieving their Certificate of Commitment from Carbon Action;

“There are many overlaps between ISO and Carbon Action – we found we had covered a lot of the requirements by beginning to implement the ISO 14001 framework. Our fuel bill is a major expense so through relatively simple measures such as encouraging all vans to carry spares, and organising drivers regionally to service specific customers, we have been able to cut fuel costs and reduce our carbon emissions.”

As well as tightening up internal operating procedures and providing a great foundation to grow, Gemini has also begun to see more interest from suppliers and stakeholders;

“We are now taken seriously, as before we weren’t. The plus side is that we are now starting to open doors to some really big contracts.”

In fact, as we closed the interview, Andy was off to Helsinki to present at a European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) conference – surely a sign of things to come!

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