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How gaining ISO Certification is proving pivotal to Valley Groups successes

Who are Valley Group?

Valley Group Ltd provides a comprehensive range of building compliance, refurbishment, energy efficiency and associated services. Based in the east of Glasgow and delivering services across Scotland, Valley has been in operation since 2014 and has significant industry expertise and an experienced senior leadership team.

Valley Group has a strong client base, providing services for a range of public and private sector clients.

Achieving ISO certification is proving pivotal to their success. It is supporting the organisation’s sustainable growth, ensuring they can continually improve and manage the risks and opportunities presented to them as a business.


About the Standards

Valley Group began its journey towards obtaining the ISO standards in 2019/20 and they understood the importance of implementing and achieving them. This was important for many reasons. They were determined to create a culture of continuous improvement – they recognised that external review and validation of their endeavours was the best way to ensure a ‘best in class’ approach to quality, environmental and safety management procedures. A prerequisite for public sector tendering, obtaining the Standards was an essential milestone, ensuring their service offering was suitable and in line with client requirements.

Since undertaking their initial audit, Valley Group has continued to develop and review their operational procedures and processes.

Valley Group now successfully holds and maintains ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), ISO 45001 (Occupational Health and Safety Management), and SSIP (Safety Schemes in Procurement).

Achieving each of the ISO standards has been an instrumental step in the Valley Group’s success and growth to date. A necessary validation for small business with aspirations to improve and grow, Valley has benefited from implementing and maintaining the high standards set out by the ISO frameworks, establishing the way in which they do business. They encourage their people to challenge and regularly review why they are doing something and ask, ‘could we do it better?’

Having a strong focus on Health, Safety, Environment and Quality allows them to protect their people, the planet, and meet (and often exceed) the requirements of their customer base.


We spoke to Frazer Lowrie, HSQE Manager at Valley Group to find out the value added to their business by gaining ISO certification with CfA, and how they found the overall process.


What were the value-added benefits of having an external assessment?

‘Using an external party allows Valley Group to show our customers that we are committed to setting and maintaining a high standard throughout our operations, allowing us to have a “fresh set of eyes” on our operations’ said Frazer.

‘We can verify that we are doing what we say we intend to do and confirm that we are meeting the requirements of the ISO standards.’


Is there a part of the standard that you find particularly useful or pertinent to your business?

‘Continual improvement is a key component throughout the Standards and, as a business, it is crucial that we continue to improve – through training and upskilling our people, strengthening our customer partnerships, improving our service offering, finding efficiencies and savings within the business, reducing waste and becoming more sustainable.’


Why would you recommend the standard to other organisations?

‘The ISO Standards are globally recognised: a “gold standard” for business. As a SME this enables us to compete with national companies and strive to continually improve. Instrumental in our growth, through external validation, assisting us to create improvement plans and sense check our operational ways of working and supporting our growth, allowing us to grow and become the successful business we are today.’ Frazer explained.

Valley Group Managing Director, Sean Harkin agrees.  He added, ‘working with CfA has been incredibly important to Valley. It concentrated our efforts, establishing strong foundations and business principles. This has been a pivotal step in Valley’s success to date and will continue to support our growth and plans to further develop our services.

‘As a business, we have experienced growth at a fast pace during a challenging time for the country. We receive a lot of repeat business, largely down to our people as well as our focused approach based around Health, Safety, Environmental and Quality Management, as well as continually improving.’


Did you find the process to be thorough? Was it well planned and did it go smoothly?

‘The process is well structured and planned. Communication from the operations team in CfA is well documented; we receive reminder letters, calls, and emails to confirm the audit dates and to plan the audit.

‘We have good contact with our auditor who understands our business and is flexible even when we have a detailed audit plan. As a business we need to remain flexible, and our auditor understands this well.

‘The process is always efficient and runs well.’


Did you find the assessor approachable / easy to communicate with / knowledgeable?

‘Our auditor is knowledgeable, professional and communicates well. He has a good understanding of our business and the challenges which we face. Having a fresh pair of eyes from someone who knows the industry well is beneficial for our business.

‘In his career he also undergoes audits routinely, so understands the pressure and stress that can come with the process, when interviewing and discussing with our workforce he knows how to put people at ease and that they shouldn’t perceive the interaction as a test.’


What were the benefits of having an external assessment?

‘Having an external assessment allows us to independently verify that we are consistently meeting the requirements of the Standards, and demonstrates to our workforce and customers our commitment to a high standard of Health, Safety, Environment and Quality Management throughout our business. It also gives me confidence that we are doing what we need to be doing to meet our customer requirements, protect our people, and our planet.’


What advice would you give to firms considering accreditation?

‘The ISO standards (9001, 14001 and 45001) are used globally and provide a solid foundation for a business to manage Health, Safety, Environmental and Quality. This helps recruit and retain people, win more work, and meet customer requirements.

‘SSIP (Safety Schemes in Procurement) certification is used by a lot of organisations to “approve” their contractors and is used throughout the UK, there are 30+ members who provide this certification, but as a business it is beneficial that we can integrate this with our ISO standards audit, it saves time and is a more efficient process than the traditional “desk top audit” approach taken by others.’


Why would you recommend CfA to other organisations?

‘CfA are a trusted partner for Valley Group. They provide a friendly, professional service and communicate well from start to end. Our auditor has a good understanding of the Standards as well as the industry that we work in, so understands the challenges we face as a business. The audit is never seen as a “tick box” exercise and the auditor takes a pragmatic approach to ensure that we are meeting the Standards in a way that is suitable for us.’

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