Saving a Life a Day

Bill Greeley, Quality Assurance and Compliance Manager at InCord

“Your product helped save a child,” a customer told InCord in a July 2019 voice message. Calling from Hawaii, theater technical specialist Darrell Ziegler described how during a children’s theatre camp, there was a blackout in the Kahilu Theatre. Before the emergency lights came on, one kid backed up and fell off the stage—onto an InCord safety net.

Ziegler, the former Technical Director for the famous Joyce Theater in New York City, had just installed the netting less than one month prior. The installation itself took “four hours, start to finish, and it fit like a glove.” His voice message ended: “This is exactly what the theater needed. It’s working wonderfully. It is a wonderful product. And everyone at the theater is so very happy. Mahalo (Thank you)!”

Our customers count on us for quality—and peace of mind. We keep your business, construction site, school, stadium, theater, or playground out of danger—and help put it in the spotlight because of its success. We protect people and property, providing security you can trust. How does InCord do it?

“We save a life a day—somewhere,” Bill Greeley says proudly and often. Quality Assurance and Compliance Manager, Greeley is the man behind InCord’s perfect score on quality. Under his watch, InCord successfully passed the ISO 9001 annual quality audit for the 11th year in a row, and for the 5th year in a row with a perfect score of zero procedure errors.

“It was a save on so many levels,” says Greeley about the Kahilu Theatre’s good news. “Our netting saved a boy’s life, prevented unimaginable grief, and saved the theatre financially. Unfathomable consequences were avoided.”

Every year, there are numerous happy InCord stories like this one that never make the news because disaster is averted. Instead of crisis, there’s laughter and relief.

“In every way, we meet and exceed expectations” Bill Greeley

For our customers, the ISO logo means they can count on the highest quality products. ISO, pronounced EYE-so, is the short name (not an acronym) for The International Organization for Standardization, a non-governmental organization that brings together global experts to develop foremost worldwide standards and certifications. An ISO quality management system ensures top quality operations and materials, products and services. Bill Greeley says the program certifies that InCord’s entire workflow is repeatable, traceable, and self-correcting. InCord also seeks out venders who are ISO compliant. “In every way, we meet and exceed expectations,” Greeley says. “Our customers come back again and again. That tells us we’re getting it right.”

When InCord first applied for certification in 2008, the company had already become the leading safety net manufacturer in the U.S. in just ten short years. Back then, company owner Ed Ritz knew that adopting a standardized plan would prevent stressing InCord’s forward moving business model and make sustainable growth possible.

In the early years, a committee conferred on the certification process. Bill Greeley has managed the certification process since 2008, enlisting the help of senior management as needed. With a personal passion for industrial history and a long career in manufacturing, including fourteen years at InCord, Greeley knows his industry’s ISO manufacturing standards inside out.

Deep Thinking and Clear Planning

In 2015, ISO came out with a new version of the quality program that represented a significant departure from the 2008 version. Bill Greeley says the previous generation of standards offered extensive directions, details, and specific templates from which to work. The new version, however, raised the bar by providing only a thin outline for direction and instead required an in-depth philosophy of reflection requiring a far greater investment in the certification process.

Greeley wasn’t alone in his observations. “No one in the industry knew what to do with it,” he recalls. Instead of handing out a set of directions to follow, ISO 9001:2015 asked businesses to invest even more time, energy, and thought beyond the quality process within workflow. Realizing that growth and sustainability involve far more than customer and supplier relationships, ISO’s new certification requirements ask the organization to go further into the inner workings of the company, and further into the greater world around them. As a result, risk planning and greater knowledge of all interested parties become integral components of everyday decision making.

For seven months before the next annual audit, Greeley researched books on the new ISO philosophy, reviewed InCord’s manuals for previous versions, and pored over numerous online manuals, outlines, examples, and templates. He recalls having six books on ISO standards open on his desk for much of that year.

One helpful document happened to be one he’d written. Years earlier, a company in Denmark asked Greeley to send information about how to get certified—and what exactly InCord did. “What started out as a short letter to a guy in Denmark turned into multiple pages, written almost like a diary, which I’ve continued to add to and update,” says Greeley. His chronicle traces the history of InCord’s ISO certification and succinctly outlines the many layers of a complex process. Greeley’s dedication and natural tendency to archive serves InCord well. He carries the history of the company while always trying to “move it forward and keep it relevant.”

About halfway through the recertification process for ISO’s challenging new standard, Bill Greeley wrote a manual on everything he knew about InCord’s ISO certification and titled it Deep Thinking and Clear Planning. This would become the company’s primary reference manual that would spawn a dozen others, each covering an aspect of operations including order taking, inventory control, purchasing, distribution, planning, shipping and more.

Greeley says the new standard requires companies to lead and mentor the quality program from the top rather than from a middle level. It further develops the quality program beyond “workflow” into every supporting department and operation within the organization. By choosing to over-prepare for the next ISO audit, he felt very confident when the day arrived and InCord passed with a perfect score of zero procedure errors.

“Day in and day out, we’re saving lives” Bill Greeley

Quality Control—Always Working in the Background

While employees read and master the manuals that pertain to their departments, Bill Greeley makes sure workers are not overwhelmed with info that doesn’t concern them directly. He works to streamline procedures by eliminating process paperwork as much as possible.

“The quality system should never get in their way,” he explains. “It works in the background. It should be routine—part of the process.”

While an ISO audit is an intensive, methodical process seeking to expose problem areas, Greeley says he perceives it as an opportunity to continually learn about and improve workflow, products, and services. Auditors provide valuable assistance and mentorship. They want you to learn, and they want you to succeed.

Bill Greeley’s creed—quality control “should be a routine part of the overall process”—is reflected in the company’s internal audits. To ensure that the quality program doesn’t get in InCord’s way,  Greeley himself does the work of sitting down and checking in with each and every employee, weaving in questions as they talk, and writing it up. “Everyone’s so busy—I do this myself so the ISO can continue to run in the background.”

He stops at each work station and asks about their procedures, comparing actual practice with what’s in writing to see how it compares and if it matches. “If it doesn’t, we determine how the procedure has changed and correct it,” says Greeley. “Sometimes it’s even improved, so we upgrade the standard. But without this process, we wouldn’t know until the next external audit. Over the course of a year we hit every corner of the company.”

Greeley says that while he is “always looking for what could go wrong,” he’s also “quick to say what’s going right.”

For Bill Greeley, the 2015 ISO certification was by far the most significant project and difficult challenge he recalls encountering in his years at InCord. “Afterwards, I recall thinking, ‘yeah, I can go die now,’ he laughs. “Instead, I took a trip to Italy and Israel!”

“Day in and day out, we’re saving lives,” says Greeley. “It’s a good industry to be in and a good feeling.”