Sustaining Edge Solutions

Lance Lam, left, division manager of quality assurance and compliance for Hawaii Gas Company, and Walter Tighe, president and owner of Sustaining Edge Solutions Inc., at Hawaii Gas Company’s headquarters in Honolulu.

Sustaining Edge Solutions Inc., a Tucson-based management consulting and training firm, has landed the big kahuna, it’s biggest contract ever, at six-figures.

Hawaii Gas Company, which serves about 70,000 residential and commercial customers on the six major Hawaiian Islands, literally goes by the name The Gas Company (TGC) in Hawaii. In business since 1904, it has more than 300 employees.

TGC has hired Sustaining Edge Solutions to design, develop and implement a process leading to ISO 9001 certification for the company. It is an international quality management standard that has been set by the International Organization Standardization in Geneva, Switzerland. The standards encourage efficiency, save operating costs and increase profits.

Walter Tighe, president, owner and founder of Sustaining Edge Solutions, has 24 years’ experience in business systems improvement in both manufacturing and transactional environments in government, defense, automotive, semiconductor, customer service, electronics, mechanical, medical, logistical, aerospace and charitable organizations. With the addition of Hawaii Gas as a client, Tighe adds utilities to that list.

In the 10 years he has run Sustaining Edge Solutions, the company’s customers in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and Utah have included Intel, Dial Corp., General Dynamics, Universal Avionics and Solon Corp.

Mike Futrell, executive vice president of TGC, said the company embarked on the ISO 9001 process to improve quality, customer service, employee relations and overall production – and to sustain those improvements for decades to come. Doing so, he said, would result in long-term improvement to TGC’s bottom-line profitability.

Sustaining Edge Solutions was selected to lead the effort because it has “the right balance of technical expertise, experience and personal customer service,” Futrell said.

Lance Lam, division manager of Quality Assurance & Compliance for TGC, was also impressed with Tighe and his company. “Walter and Sustaining Edge Solutions provided through website, newsletters and direct contact an in-depth look on how companies can benefit from an ISO 9001 certification,” he said.

It is expected it will take 18 to 24 months to complete the ISO 9001 certification project for Hawaii Gas Co. In that time, Tighe expects to make seven to nine trips to Hawaii, with each visit lasting for one or two weeks.

“It’s tough duty, but somebody has to do it,” Tighe quipped.

Hawaii Gas Company owns and operates the only synthetic natural gas (SNG) manufacturing plant of its kind in the U.S. The plant makes SNG from byproducts of imported petroleum that is refined and distributed to its customers in metropolitan Honolulu through a 1,100-mile pipeline network. The company supplies liquefied petroleum gas, or propane, to commercial, residential utility and non-utility customers statewide.

TGC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Macquarie Infrastructure Co., a publicly traded (New York Stock Exchange: MIC) firm that owns a diversified group of infrastructure businesses.

Tighe said companies go through quality management processes for a variety of reasons. He called TGC’s motivation “an enlightened management decision.”

“A lot of companies do this because they are being told to do this by a large company or a government entity that is requiring it as a condition of doing business,” Tighe said. “But it is the companies that take the certification and do more with it than just hang it on the wall that get the most benefit. The Gas Co. is one of these companies. They realize the benefits that will come from using a globally recognized standard as a tool to analyze their systems and processes and improve customer satisfaction.”

Tighe said the process will result in savings for Hawaii Gas Company but he said it’s impossible to predict how much.

“I’ve worked with some companies that have saved 60 percent cycle time or reduced rework by 40 percent or more. But no two companies are alike,” he said. “Some are more efficient or effective than others. But I have never, ever, worked with a client that didn’t achieve significant results. Anytime you examine a system, put it on paper, break it down and analyze it — you are going to identify ways to improve it, which always results in improved profits for the company.”

Contact David Pittman, a freelance writer, at dpittman47@hotline.com or (520) 551-2735.