As reported previously, Intertek purchased the long-suffering SAI Global, giving hope that the new ownership would finally resolve SAI’s problems. It now appears that fixes are not happening, and SAI may instead drag Intertek down with it.

SAI struggled for years with poor audit scheduling and auditor management. Companies worldwide reported that SAI auditors never showed up for audits, or that SAI failed to have enough auditors to perform them in the first place. A number of companies lost their ISO 9001 and AS9100 certificates because their certificates lapsed while waiting for SAI to get their house in order.

The situation was so bad, SAI lost its accreditation for months, a dramatic result in a scheme that nearly never de-accredits a large CB, no matter what the issue.

After it regained accreditation, the problems continued, and users reported they still couldn’t get SAI auditors to perform their audits. It’s not clear how many companies had to flee the sinking ship, and then transition to alternative CBs just to keep their certifications.

Within the SAI management offices, things weren’t much better. Because of their lack of auditors, senior managers had to run to the defense for the auditors they did have, and disregard major violations of accreditation rules. When one SAI auditor wrote a nonconformity claiming a client’s audits didn’t comply with a procedure written a year after the audits were conducted, the head of SAI’s aerospace division dug in, and appeared to be demanding the client use time travel to fix the problem.  In another case, an auditor refused to show up on-site for an AS9100 audit because of “snow,” and then falsified the audit report by submitting an audit report for an entirely different client, simply switching out the company names. In all cases, SAI refused to take action, which now appears driven by the fact they did not have standby personnel to step in for corrupt auditors.

SAI’s problems weren’t limited to its audit pool. Paul Simpson, who led the TC 176 “SC2” committee for a period of time, which authors the ISO 9001 standard, took on the role of SAI accreditation manager, only to leave after a few months. Simpson’s replacement, Nicole Grantham, took the title “Chief Risk Officer” and then found her signature on a host of ISO certificates granted by SAI to companies later found to have killed people or engaged in various other wrongdoings.

In 2020, SAI was sued by John Grimes, in what was reported as a labor dispute; SAI settled that case, but the terms of the settlement are unknown.

Intertek to the Rescue?

But even after the Intertek purchase, things continued to look grim. Late last year, after it had purchased SAI, Intertek shut down its entire Australian operation for — again — a lack of auditors. This was shocking, since SAI had been a major player on that continent for years. It just threw in the towel.

Now, new reports are coming in that even under Intertek’s ownership, the same problems continue. One whistleblower reported that their company’s ISO certificate is at risk because Intertek cannot find an auditor to perform a simple ISO 9001 audit… the exact same problem that had plagued SAI.

The root cause appears to be the result of Intertek’s bizarre decision to leave in place the largely incompetent team of executives from SAI who caused all of SAI’s problems in the first place. The people on this team nearly all date back to 2017, right when SAI’s problems began. Making matters worse, COO Kim Jenkins comes from Australia, the place that SAI had to flee from because of its disastrous management. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where the problem originates.

I think at this point, it’s clear that clients need to be very, very careful when using Intertek/SAI as their certification body, and should have an escape plan ready if things go wrong. A class action suit is probably not out of the realm of possibility, either.

If Intertek can’t get the house back in order, it risks losing its accreditation entirely, and all because it kept the same management team that had driven SAI into the dirt.

About Christopher Paris

Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 30 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001 and Surviving AS9100. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.


Traditional Tri-System