Conversation with Jacob Francis
Q: If asked to summarize in a nutshell why AISC Certification is valuable to both Francis Steel, Inc and your client base (actual and potential) - what would you say?
A: Keywords are Quality, Safety and Profitability.
On the keyword of QUALITY, I would say - AISC is an organization that provides a means for us as a company to look at our way of doing business, our way of recording, our quality, our quality inspections and having procedures in place (written procedures in place that we follow) that dictate our level of quality that we aim at in our work...
AISC hires a 3rd party auditor so it is not even AISC employees, but rather a 3rd party Quality Management Company, and they come in, and they look at all our paper work, and our procedures... and they make sure we have all the things relate to quality in welding, bolting, decking, and our erection processes... and make sure we have a minimum standard of quality that meets AISC's requirements.
Then they go to the field, and they talk to our guys. And they look at how we do stuff in the field and see if we are actually doing what we say we are doing. When AISC gets done with all that, and they give a stamp of approval, and say, "Yes, you are certified by us"... then that gives anyone looking to hire us to do their job, the assurance that we meet at least some kind of standard of quality. It is a well-respected standard of quality, and it is not easy to get. They know they are going to get quality. They know the guys they hire are going to have a certain level of knowledge about what they are doing. Not a fly by night company that does not know what they are doing. It provides assurance that they are going to be fairly well on top of their game. Peace of mind for the company. Like the Corp of Engineers - for example - out at Fort Bragg... they often require that you have an AISC Certification in order to bid on their jobs. So there is some jobs that you cannot bid on, some companies you simply cannot work with, without first having the certification. That is the quality side of things.
In the SAFETY side of things, there is a safety portion to the AISC Certification requires you to have a certain level of training in safety. Truthfully, it made us up our game on the safety side of things. We were already had a pretty good quality system going - and our guys were pretty well versed, but the AISC standards helped us with our safety standards. We had to go through a good amount of training for all the guys.
We also went through the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) 10 Course. All our guys now are required to have OSHA 10 Certifications. The Foremen of the jobs are require to have OSHA 30 Certification. That is just something we are doing... and that (the OSHA Certification) is nationally recognized. It is well rounded. It covers toxins, man lift safety, rigging safety, all kinds of safety concerns for the aspects of the industry relevant to our line of work.
The PROFITABILITY side of that overall equation is... because you are secure in the QUALITY and SAFETY of what is being delivered, you are able to nail down any problem areas on the front side. You are more versed in the potential pitfalls and have procedures to avoid them. We are going to have - theoretically - less issues in the field, because we on the front side are trying to nip potential problems in the bud. Like catching bad quality ahead of time - not having to deal with it later.
Our Inspectors like us. Our work is good. Inspectors know when they come to our job that it is going to be a job done well. If there are issues, we are going to fix them. We are not going to argue about it or give them a fit. It helps us be more profitable, and it helps other trades who follow us to be more profitable. We seek to do a good job on what we install, so the trades coming behind us don't have a mess to work around. A common example of this is when we are having to deal with the mess the concrete and block guys leave - putting their indent plates at the wrong elevation, making walls too high and leaving us to have to trim them down... this is a common occurence. The concrete and block guys - when their quality is not good, it influences us and our cost, and we don't get all that money back. So by us adhering to a higher standard and maintaining quality and safety standards in our work, we reduce the cost for the folks who come behind us.
Quality. Safety. Profitability.