We’ve always been committed to delivering quality products and strong customer service at Sonderen Packaging. Like anything we do, our process of ensuring quality works best when we do it as a team. For the past year, our new Director of Quality Management, Brian Bell, has put together a Quality Management Department (QMD) able to increase internal audits and decrease customer complaints. When he first started, the QMD was only able to do about 6 internal audits a day. Now, by adding a few more team members, and focusing on the audit process and training, they do an impressive 30 to 40 per day.

“Quality is when the customer comes back, not the product.” – Brian Bell

We believe that quality is everyone’s responsibility, and our continued investment in Brian and his team to identify trends and catch problems early helps to create trust with our customers: we’re sending out great products because we catch most problems internally. While the QMD can create tension in some workplaces, the goal of our Quality Management team is to be a resource to the rest of the company, so that everyone on the floor knows that they always have support when making quality decisions.

Brian is a direct bridge between customers and the floor. The initial communication begins with the customer bringing forth a problem, but he also hears about positive customer experiences due to the processes that the QMD has implemented to handle quality complaints. The goal is to reach out to customers with an initial root cause analysis of the QMD’s finding in no more than 24 hours. Brian will then follow up with a corrective and preventative action report if necessary. The increased number of people in the QMD enables a thorough and timely solution which is beneficial internally and externally so we don’t repeat the same errors on future orders. Brian and the QMD also have a goal of achieving ISO 9001 registration, an international quality standard that several of our customers use when they conduct audits at our facility.

The Sonderen Packaging sales team loves that Quality Management is growing and that Brian is building relationships with customers; oftentimes he visits customers at their facility to deepen the connection with their key people and to understand what is most important to them when it comes to folding cartons.

“We visited Yogi Tea in Oregon, a customer with a 375,000 square foot facility and a 22-year relationship. We saw conveyor belts and a warehouse filled with our cartons. They depend on us to be consistent, and they told us that they appreciate our support and partnership.” – Brian Bell

Our goal here at Sonderen is to practice “first time quality.” This means that we do our best not to wait until the end of the process to find out that something isn’t working. When we’re doing quality management correctly, our products are passed from team to team error-free, and the flow of each job runs smoothly. The QMD specifically audits new and complex jobs by checking quality at several points in production. Jeff Hall, one of our Senior Account Executives, is glad that Brian and the rest of the QMD team reflect Sonderen’s market strategy—built on service and quality, not price.

“We recently had a serious quality issue with one of our strategic customers. The issue was in printing, and we had hundreds of sheets where the ink would not apply and dry correctly. Our QMD immediately met with our group of printing experts, and together they identified the possible causes and conducted a plant-wide inspection to cull out the unacceptable cartons prior to shipping. The QMD provided me with a comprehensive corrective action report that detailed the specifics of the problem and the processes in which they applied their findings. I was able to share this with our customer, but it didn’t end there. This particular issue was a paperboard issue, not our printing issue. Brian and the QMD provided me with the paper mill’s response and the corrective action on their end.” – Jeff Hall

Glenda Covey is a recent addition to the Quality Management Department. She was previously a tailor in the finishing department but now, as an auditor, she looks for defects in products to make sure that they’re ready to go for the customer. “I have been involved in various aspects of Quality Control my whole career, but, here at Sonderen, I get to see the entire process from beginning to end and work with each department and learn about their roles.” She worked at Sonderen Packaging previously but left for another job, ultimately returning to Sonderen. We welcomed her with open arms because we appreciate her big smile, willingness to learn, and positive attitude. “I was drawn back because I knew I enjoyed my job here and that I loved the people. I knew if I came back, I would stay.”