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4 Jul, 2019
This free programme provides exceptional training and great networking opportunities. Find out what happened when the MD of Merlin Vet Export Ltd met our MD, Jennifer Semini, on the course…
About Merlin Vet
Based in the beautiful Scottish borders, Merlin Vet specialises in exporting pharmaceuticals and equipment to veterinary professionals around the world. The firm was created in 1998 when several local independent veterinary practices combined to create a thriving veterinary services business with over 50 members of staff. It was ten years before a new business opportunity would open up which would see the firm diversify and expand to become the global business it is today.
In 2008, David Taylor, a partner in the practice (and future MD of Merlin Vet), was approached by a former Veterinary Associate who asked for help after moving to Hong Kong and struggling to source a reliable supplier of UK branded medicines. Within three years, Merlin was making regular monthly shipments to 12 overseas clients, and, seeing the long term potential in diversification, the company soon incorporated a small veterinary export business and secured a Wholesalers Dealers Licence.
Merlin’s export arm quickly went from strength to strength. Swiftly outgrowing the space available at the veterinary practice, it took on its own premises in 2013. By late 2017, the firm had expanded into the unit next door and had eight dedicated employees.
Managing a growth business
In 2018, David, a hands on large animal Veterinary Surgeon by trade, joined the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme, hoping to boost his skills in managing a growth business. Part of his cohort was Jennifer Semini, Managing Director of ISO Quality Services Ltd (ISOQSL), a management consultancy specialising in helping businesses strengthen their operations through the implementation of ISO Management Standards. Having listened to Jennifer talking about ISO Standards in group sessions, David soon realised that the immediate credibility an internationally-recognised certification would bring would help his firm attract more new business.
Using ISO 9001 to support expansion
Once the Programme was complete, David and Jennifer linked up via Skype to explore David’s plans for the business. One of his key challenges was to ensure that the growing workforce at Hong Kong would have the same operating practices and attention to customer needs as those back in Scotland. Having ascertained this, Jennifer was able to recommend ISO 9001, the Quality Management Standard, which supports growing businesses through the implementation of processes and procedures. This would, Jennifer explained, ensure that all staff operate in a consistent manner and remain focused on customer satisfaction.
David and Jennifer agreed that the first step would be to secure certification for the Scottish business and use the lessons learned alongside the new processes and procedures as a framework for the new set-up in Hong Kong.
Merlin’s remote location was no barrier to visits by an ISOQSL consultant as the firm has a network of assessors across the UK. Chetna Reay, a highly experienced ISO consultant, met with David and his team to gather information and ensure that the documentation ISOQSL was preparing for Merlin’s use would exactly meet the firm’s needs
Having successfully passed the certification audit, David and his team will now benefit from twice-yearly meetings with the ISOQSL team. A mid-year review will give David reassurance that the firm is on track for re-certification as well as giving the two parties time to update each other on information relevant to quality management, and the annual re-certification audit will ensure that Merlin always has an up to date certification with which to impress new clients.
What it means to customers and suppliers
David comments, “Both suppliers and customers in the pharmaceutical supply chain have asked us in the past if we were ISO 9001 certified, it is great to now be able to say ‘yes, we are!’. In an industry where exacting standards are the norm we are now able to demonstrate that our processes are done to best practice and audited and verified by an independent third party as well as the invaluable help the team at ISOQSL have given in developing and refining our processes and recording thereof.”
Find out more about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme.
Discover how Jennifer helped two more alumnae strengthen their businesses by claiming R&D tax credits. Ecology by Design is an Oxfordshire-based ecology consultancy and Digital Glue is a Birmingham based digital marketing agency. These very different businesses both successfully made a claim as a result of Jennifer’s recommendations.
ISO Quality Services Ltd are proud to specialise in the implementation and certification of the Internationally recognised ISO and BS EN Management Standards.
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