Entrepreneur, Helen Short, reflects on 20 years of Absolute Quality, helping make good businesses great

Our founder, Helen Short, reveals why she set up her own business, how exceptional relationships are at the heart of all her business beliefs and gives a glimpse of the adventures that await.

Helen noticed an opportunity 20 years ago, when rafts of new legislation and standards were hitting businesses, whilst working as a technical manager for Nestlé. Helen could see that its supply chain of around 700 companies, in sectors from engineering, chemicals, and food, were daunted.

“No one knew what to do,” she recalled, “The whole supply chain were struggling to understand what the changes were, what it meant for their business, or what they had to do to stay compliant. I knew I could help them with advice that they could easily understand and practically use.”

And so Absolute Quality was established. Helen set about offering high levels of technical knowledge and support to demystify food safety regulations and legislation, quickly building a loyal client base, and expanding into quality, environmental and health & safety support and training. “I’m extraordinarily proud of the businesses I have worked with, seeing them overcome difficulties and then going from good to great businesses. This has always been the ethos behind everything we do at Absolute Quality.”

These days Absolute Quality specialises in helping businesses manage risks, find solutions to issues that they face and drive continual improvement through its consultancy and training services.  Helen has a core team and a network of specialist, like-minded associates, as well as a strong, diverse client base. “I affectionally call them my team of unicorns because they are the foundations behind our success.

“As well as delivering what people need in a simple, common-sense way, it’s relationships that are everything in business, and it’s those dynamics that have factored into our success. In fact, the one regret I have is not building up my team earlier,” she said, “you simply can’t do everything yourself, so surrounding yourself with like-minded people is extremely powerful, whether its outsourcing or recruiting to people that are aligned with your values.”

You’ll never get a simple tick box paper exercise with Helen or the team at Absolute Quality. Instead, their unique approach involves, “engaging, enabling, and empowering clients and their team to really get involved with finding solutions and improvement measures using the Plan Do Check Act cycle to break complexities and build confidence. “This motivates everyone to get on board and take ownership,” Helen explained, “which is far better than me handing over some documents that are then left on the shelf to get dusty!”

Overcoming adversity and building resilience is Helen’s talent and is exactly why Absolute Quality is so successful. Whether its new standards and regulations, changing technology, or an out-of-nowhere disruptive global event like the Covid-19 pandemic, any business or industry can radically change, and quickly.

Helen stated, “external influences that are out of our control have always, and will always, be there. Never be afraid to face them, instead find ways to not just manage them, but use them to your advantage and become better, stronger, more efficient, and more effective.”

“Having made it through the last couple of years, managing the uncertainties and challenges of Brexit and Covid, we are well-placed and confident to grow, working with our trusted networks and communities to embrace the amazing opportunities in our region’s future economic development”.

Helen concluded, “going back to the origins and ethos of Absolute Quality; it’s not strictly what we do, it’s who we are, our values and how we work with our clients. I want hand these principles, my knowledge and experience to the next generation who can continue to build on theses, adding their skills and energy.”