Trow & Holden learned about the Vermont Training Program (VTP) in early 2017 from our contact at the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (VMEC). We were able to set up a meeting with a head of the program within a week or two, and quickly realized that the VTP could allow us the opportunity to follow up on training initiatives within several areas of the business. The nature of the grant pushed us to think about our overall training goals for the coming year, which was really valuable from a planning and business strategy perspective. As a result, we have training’s planned that will touch upon all aspects of our business, from production to accounting to general management.
Our most significant achievement under the VTP has been the completion of the ISO 9001:2015 Collaborative offered by VMEC. During this collaborative, representatives from 6 or 7 companies gathered once a month to meet with an expert consulting firm and develop an ISO-compliant quality management system. An ISO-compliant system encompasses every aspect of the business, including production, purchasing, sales, and management. While only a few people attended the collaborative sessions, we knew that the end-result would impact all of our employees and really change the way we think about our operations and our products.
When the collaborative started, Trow & Holden did not have a formal quality management system, and so we were really starting from scratch. Having the opportunity to work with knowledgeable consultants and hear from other businesses in the state was invaluable; it allowed us to build a system that works for our business and takes advantage of our strengths. The collaborative ended in August, and since then we have officially implemented our Quality Management System and scheduled our initial ISO certification visit for February 2018. Achieving ISO certification will allow us to advertise that we are compliant with a global quality standard that is internationally recognized, as well as give us quality evidence to stand behind our assertion that we manufacture some of the best products available on the market. This is a huge achievement for a small manufacturing company, and even more so for a family business that has been operating since 1890. The cost of the ISO Collaborative would have been prohibitive for us this year, but knowing that the VTP grant would cover half of it made it feasible.