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Quality has always been more important to me than volume

'It's important not to take too much in each haul and also not to tow for too long. On board the trawlers, it's important to clear the pounds as quickly as possible, with the fish either bled or headed and chilled. These are the key elements in producing quality products. If the fish hasn't been allowed to bleed properly to begin with, then it's not something that can be fixed afterwards, either on board or afterwards in production, says HB Grandi's quality control manager Steindór Sverrisson, who stepped into this role in February last year.

Previously an officer on board trawlers such as Brettingur NS and Haraldur Kristjánsson, which is now HB Grandi's Helga María, Steindór Sverrisson paid a great deal of attention to quality issues both at sea and ashore and he comments that bringing the company's sales and marketing in-house was a positive step for HB Grandi.

'Like many of the crews, I felt there was a difference in having this within the company. Instead of getting occasional late information on what could be improved or what was right with our products, we started getting feedback from customers as soon as they received shipments. This meant that the factory crew were far more aware of the need to put every effort into maintaining a high quality standard. The factory trawler crews made a big effort in the right direction and on each vessel we have the watch foremen and the production managers who are there to ensure that everything is done properly.'

Visits to customers pay dividends

Steindór Sverrison says that quality has always been high on HB Grandi's agenda and every year one factory trawler crew is invited to visit one of the company's prominent customers in the UK to familiarise themselves with the customer's point of view. Every trip includes a visit to a restaurant where HB Grandi fish is on the menu, where the trawlermen get to hear exactly what the consumer thinks of what they are producing.

'This has worked extremely well and this approach has really helped in getting to grips with quality issues. We get pointers from customers and my opinion is that these personal contacts make a big difference in making everyone aware of the needs of the market. This has also helped give us an edge in quality control that would not have been otherwise possible. I try to visit each trawler before they leave for a trip and speak to as many of the crew as I can, to let them know what they are doing right as well as where there is room for improvement. Then I also spend a couple of days at sea with them several times a year and as much as a week sometimes,' says Steindór Sverrison.