Board Member

Tony Lopez

What made you make the move into running your own business?

When I retired from Gibtelecom I was offered a contract for two years to maintain their ISO9001 Quality Standard. The contract was extended to six years and subsequently mainly by word of mouth rather than marketing, I obtained numerous customers interested in achieving the ISO9001 Quality Standard. Today I have over 30 customers and I also do the Environmental Standard ISO14001:2015 and the Health & Safety Standard ISO45001:2018.
What were the biggest challenges in the early days and how did you overcome these?

During the six-year contract with Gibtelecom, there were no major challenges as I had the safety net of a steady consultancy contract from a relatively large Company, by Gibraltar standards. Thereafter it was difficult to increase my portfolio of Companies as I had a build a reputation and cope with the competition. However, keeping abreast of developments with the Standards and providing excellent service was the main driver for success.

Did you ever feel like giving up and how did you overcome that?

Like most things in life I have had ups and downs and sometimes I have thought of giving up. However, the support and loyalty of my customers help me carry on and am grateful for their continued support.

Was it difficult at times to balance family commitments and business commitments, and what are your tips for finding that balance?

Everybody in business must balance family commitments with business pressure but it is a question of balancing priorities and fulfilling all your commitments and responsibilities. In a way being the owner of my business gives me the flexibility of handling difficult situations by being able to fit a busy schedule to keep my customers happy and at the same time give myself the space to fulfil family obligations (be it good or bad times).

What were the biggest mistakes you think you made?

At the risk of sounding ostentatious, I do not believe I have made big mistakes. I purposely chose a niche business for my Company that would keep me busy in an area which I like and promises to improve businesses run efficiently and increase profits.

What would you do differently if you had the chance?

I have been involved with the business of ISO Standards for 26 years now and what I need is to improve my marketing to ensure that all businesses in Gibraltar get to know of the benefits of achieving ISO9001 Quality Standard. It is a Standard written by subject matter experts from over 100 countries at the International Organization for Standardization in Geneva, Switzerland and designed to be best working practices to help your business. There are over 1.1 Million Certifications for ISO9001 in the world (2016 figure).

What are the achievements you are most proud of?

What made me proud is when I successfully helped my first Company achieve certification to three Standards namely the ISO9001 Quality Management System, the Environmental Management System ISO14001 and the Health & Safety Standard ISO45001 in 2006.

What do you think are the most important characteristics of successful business leaders?

The key characteristic of successful business leaders in Europe is the use of the European Excellence Model to run their business. The EFQM launched the Business Model in 1989 and is used by some 30,000 Organisations in Europe. In Gibraltar, Gibtelecom is the only Company using the Model.

What is your favourite thing about being in business?

What I like about being in business is the fact that I am always learning about different business disciplines as I adapt my ISO knowledge to a whole range of Companies in Shipping, Retail, Cleaning, Electronic Servicing, Transport, Bunkering etc.

What is your business dream and has the end game changed for you over the years?

My business dream is to break into the Public Sector market as I think that many would benefit from ISO Certification. I worked as a Civil Servant for 26 years and have insight knowledge of the difficulties of managing by constraints rather than managing by results. Ironically when applying to be a Government Preferred Supplier one is asked if your Company is ISO Certified to ISO9001 Quality, ISO14001 Environment and ISO45001 Health & Safety but Government Departments are exempt from this.

Conversely, Government Department which have privatised such as Gibtelecom and  Aquagib have for years subscribed to ISO Certification and have improved in many fronts such as customer care and profitability. Also Government Authorities benefit from ISO Certification in particular the Gibraltar Port Authority and the Gibraltar Maritime Administration.

Why did you join the GFSB and what are its greatest strengths?

I was head-hunted by the Chairperson of the GFSB Mrs Marielou Guerrerro in 2005 and have been on the Committee ever since. The greatest strengths are best summarised by the GFSB Mission Statement and Vision:-

MISSION STATEMENT

The Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses will provide local businesses with sound business advice and will work to ensure that the right business environment is created in a fair manner for all its members.

VISION

The Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses will be recognised as the leading organisation in Gibraltar for ensuring that the interests of small businesses are protected.

In addition the GFSB participates in numerous Government Boards and Committees (by invitation) as follows:-

Business Licence Board
Conditions of Employment Board
Health & Safety Board
Cross Frontier Group
Labour Advisory Council
Small Business Board
Tourism Advisory Council
ESBA Board
E-Business Advisory Council
EU Funding Board (Small Grant Board)