THE LAST OF ITS KIND: LA FAVORITE INDUSTRIES INC. CONTINUES TO PIONEER
La Favorite Industries was formed in 1984 by Tom Mastin & Eric Hague to continue the Mastin family legacy that was began in 1896, when rubber manufacturing was an expanding technology for all kinds of products. La Favorite was primarily engaged in the making of seals, packings, gaskets, expansion joints and other fabricated rubber specialties, some of which are still made today. The company reached a crossroads in the 1980’s as many of its’ products were starting to be made offshore and others were replaced by new technologies.
For Eric Hague, now President of La Favorite, his journey started in 1980 as a summer job working for the original owners, who were close family friends. In 1984 it was decided to close the original business. Tom & Eric formed a new venture that focused on some of the specialty products that had greater growth and profit potential. They were able to acquire the product lines and tooling that were needed to move forward, particularly the power plant condenser inlet expansion joints. These specialized parts are highly critical to the operation of most steam driven power plants which include coal, gas, oil, and nuclear fueled plants. From this product line, a successful splicing and installation business was derived. In addition, La Favorite also molds and fabricates parts used on aircraft carriers, submarines and all kinds of industrial applications.
Sadly, Tom passed away suddenly in 2014, elevating Eric to the company presidency.
In Eric Hague’s words, “[La Favorite] is best known as a ‘boutique manufacturer’ with a focus on part production to exact operating specifications, rather than the high-volume sale of mass-produced standard size expansion joints. We are the go-to producer of expansion joints when conditions have changed to nonstandard specifications—due to system changes and upgrades.”
La Favorite offers end-to-end customer support from manufacturing to on-site installation and splicing services—they’re a full-service outfit. La Favorite Industry’s expertise in both the manufacturing, installation, and service of their products allows them to facilitate a wide range of customers’ unique needs, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
La Favorite Industries has carved out a niche market in the manufacturing sector in that they’re one of the only manufacturers left in the United States that produces these highly specialized components. With La Favorite playing this critical role in the energy market, the need to have the latest quality management system (QMS) is pivotal in providing clients with products and services that meet all their regulatory requirements. In Eric Hague’s words, “The need for ISO came about when one of our legacy customers—which goes all the way back to the WWII era–conducted quality audits. The DOD [Department of Defense] no longer recognizing the outdated M.I quality system and wants contractors to get ISO certified—and that was the impetus for updating our system to meet ISO 9001:2015 standards and practices.”
ISO 9001 is a general standard that will benefit any organization and doesn’t apply to any single industry, business size, product, or service. Instead, ISO 9001: 2015 provides the outline and process to give any company that meets compliance the tools to improve their QMS, expand risk-based thinking, and ensure businesses have the practices and procedures in place to maintain these critical processes.
“For a small business, it’s a huge undertaking,” says Eric, “It was one of those things that we’ve been putting off for years–avoiding it like the plague. With ISO, we were scared of it to be honest. We’re a small company, we only do seasonal work, and to sit down and do this, we just don’t have the time.”
In order to continue working with their legacy client—a major defense contractor—La Favorite needed to pursue certification in ISO 9001:2015 and get compliant. Eric approached NJMEP with the prospect of implementing an ISO 9001:2015 QMS to ensure they met their client (and the DOD’s) regulatory requirements.
After speaking with NJMEP, who has facilitated may ISO Certification Projects in the past, NJMEP took an in-depth look at La Favorite’s Operation, assessed where their needs were, and put together a comprehensive plan of action to help them achieve ISO certification. With the help of NJMEP’s Account Manager and their Expert ISO Resource, their knowledge of ISO 2001: 2015 and all the resources provided by NJMEP, La Favorite Industries was able to receive their ISO certification over the course of 6 months. This allowed them to maintain their legacy contract and continue providing critical components to domestic energy suppliers.
The process for achieving ISO 9001: 2015 certification began with an analysis and assessment of La Favorite Industries’ operation, then proceeded in three separate phases. During Phase One, NJMEP’s Expert ISO Resource provided ISO Standard Management Overview Training, Quality Policy and Objectives Training, then rounded out in Process Reviews and Process Leadership Training—all of which took a total of 16 training hours. Next, Phase Two involved the implementation of training materials, which involved Document Control, Quality Manual Development, and Procedure Development Training—a total of 48 hours of training. Lastly, Phase Three involved Mentorship and Implementation of ISO 9001:2015 Standards and Practices, which began with ensuring Employee Understanding and Involvement and Internal Auditor Training, and concluded with a Management Review Workshop to ensure that La Favorite’s Leadership would be able to carry these standards and practices forward with the day-to-day operations. In total, training totaled 110 hours and at the end of the partnership with NJMEP, La Favorite was able to secure ISO 9001: 2015 Certification.
The following steps were taken:
ISO 9001: 2015 Training – 110 Hrs Total
Phase I – Overview of Standards, Policies, and Objectives – 16 Hrs
- ISO Standard Management Overview Training (4 Hrs)
- Quality Policy & Objectives Training (4 Hrs)
- Process Review and Process Leader Training (8 Hrs)
Phase II – Implementation of Training Materials – 48 Hrs
- Document Control Training (8 Hrs)
- Quality Manual Development (8 Hrs)
- Procedure Development Training (4 Sessions/32 Hrs)
Phase III – Mentorship & Implementation of ISO 9001:2015 Standards and Practices – 46 Hrs
- Employee Understanding & Involvement Training (6 Hrs)
- Internal Auditor Training – (4 Sessions/32 Hrs)
- Management Review Workshop (8 Hrs)
The ISO 9001: 2015 training and certification process can be time-consuming and complex without the proper experience or knowledge. Working with an experienced team of ISO specialists to identify, implement, and improve systems and protocols allowed La Favorite Industries to achieve ISO 9001:2015 certification, receive DOL assisted grants to help reduce the overall cost of training, and secure the contract with their legacy client.
Upon completion of the 6 month ISO 9001:2015 training and certification contract with NJMEP, La Favorite Industries was able to pass the ISO Internal Audit, which reassured their client that through effective record keeping and implementing procedures aimed at improving processes, they could ensure the highest level of product quality and conformity.
“The audit was a breeze. I think we were expecting the worst, and to be honest—it wasn’t that bad. [NJMEP’s expert resource] prepared us a lot. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without him.”
The results below reflect the impact La Favorite Industries experienced while engaging with NJMEP:
- Retained Sales: $100,000
- New Sales: $100,000
- New Jobs: 2
- Retained Jobs: 15
- New Investment in Workforce: $25,000