Wainwright Industries is a manufacurer of stamped and machine parts, which provides high quality products and services for the world’s leading automotive and aerospace. Their dedication to quality and consistently supplying customized customer solutions and their exceptional experience, last for more than half a century for which they win both the satisfaction of the customers and the Company the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
Their worldwide customers benefit qualitative metal stamping, machining and logistics services due to company’s modern and specialized machinery together with the great job done by a team of experienced “designers, engineers, skilled tradesmen and quality-oriented associates whose focus is on exceeding our customers’ expectations”. Having a total annual sales of about 30 million dolars, the company employs 275 associates at its headquarters and main manufacturing facility in St. Peters, Mo. , and at a recently opened plant in Grand Prairie, Texas. In 1980, Wainwright Industries faced a crisis.
This was possible because of the fierce competition and the intensified customer control. Therefore, the company found itself in a position of re-designing its structure in order to face this challenge. The only solution to maintain its position on the market and to keep its customers loyal was to re-judge their capabilities and to understand what improvements they should make to be competitive on the long run. The radical changes that came after this crisis help them to remain an important actor in the economy, otherwise their position would have surely decline and would have lead probably to bankruptcy.
What was very clear for the Wainwright Industries was their considerable need for improvement, because minor changes would have only helped them for a short period. From that moment, Wainwright was constantly looking for ways to improve, searching inside and outside the organization for ideas and examples on how to reorganize processes, cut delivery times, make training programs more effective, or enhance its customer-focused operations.
They changed their philosophy of doing things, focusing on quality and manners of atisfying their exigent customers. In constructing this philosophy, Wainwright followed the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award’s criteria. This award is given by the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology and it recognizes quality service in the business, health care, education, and nonprofit sectors, being inspired by the ideas of Total Quality Management. This is the only quality award that is actually awarded by the President of the United States and one of the two U. S. presidential awards given to corporations. The goals of this award are to recognize quality achievements of the US companies, to publicize successful quality strategies and to promote quality awareness. The company succeeded to build a new image by establishing key quality standards, setting aims and developing implementation strategies. The most important aspects that were taking into consideration were the employee empowerment, customer satisfaction and improvement on an ongoing basis.
Nowadays, its empowered workforce is a rich source of ideas, with associates averaging more than one implemented improvement per week. Regarding the employee empowerment, associates are fully engaged in the company’s quality efforts just from the first day of work. The new employees are explain the importance of the quality and customer satisfaction within the company from the very beginning. They are also provided with explanation regarding the approaches of the company to continuous improvement.
Actually, the company put a great emhasize on the training programs and education, as they are spending up to 7% of their annual payroll. Training is regarded as one of the most important part of their culture, because their employees are a valuable asset for them. During semiannual performance appraisals, the personal-performance objectives of associates are linked with quality measures for each of the company’s five strategic indicators, which include safety, internal and external customer satisfaction, design quality and business performance.
I consider it is very interesting that the employees take courses on quality values, communication techniques, problem solving, statistical process control, and synchronous manufacturing, which is a systematic method for identifying and evaluating opportunities to simplify processes and reduce waste. The company has also training for individual needs. It is rarely encountered the intention of a company to provide full reimbursement for courses taken for professional and personal development.
Therefore, I should mention that it seems to be very challenging to work in such company, as you are not only appreciated for what you already know, but also for what you could learn. In Wainwright, the desire of being more and more involved in actions that could help you, as an employee or as a man, to attain your personal or professional goals, is very appreciated. I also consider being very laudably the implementation of a continuous improvement process designed to take into consideration suggestions from associates and fully engage them in quality efforts.
They adopted this system from one of the companies they benchmarked- 1989 Baldrige Award winner Milliken & Company. The changes made by the company, that impressed me very much, were those concerning the employee empowerment. This is because the philosophy of the company was redesigned in a manner that provides quality for everyone: for employees themselves, for the managers of the company and last but not least for the customers. The employees benefit directly from their own good ideas both in the form of increased profit-sharing payments and improved workplace safety.
In order to better express the company’s culture and also how important is the concept of team-work and thinking and acting together, the company adopted the duck as its mascot, because ducks fly in formation supporting one another in flight. The company’s culture becomes more quality-minded and more egalitarian. The managers intended to eliminate any kind of differences or discriminations between their employees and the feeling of frustration someone could have experienced due to its position within the company, or maybe connected with some money aspects.
The management succeeds to implement this culture through some specific measures such as wearing the same uniform, eating in the same cafeteria, parking in the same lot. Treating employees like this is a way of making them more confident, more loyal and more productive, because they work in a friendly environment, which is not hostile at all. They feel the respect for what they are and this will result in a strong long-term relationship. An egalitarian culture transform a company in a more quality minded one as it assures a deep understanding of the company’s goals from the part of the employee.
How can someone perform well, if he/she does not see the managers act in the sense of his expectations? This culture supports a high level of quality and the results could be seen in the high degree of customer satisfaction and the reason is the teamwork atmosphere. In its pursuit of improved quality, the company put emphasize not only on initiatives based on human resource management, but also in its manufacturing operations. Some of these initiatives are lean manufacturing, statistical process control, computer-aided design, cross- training and quality-minded manufacturing initiatives.
In my opinion, these two sets of initiatives are very close related, because the company must improve itself not only in one direction, but to cover all the parts that should be improved. A business cannot create quality only on products or only on employees, because employees create products and the quality of the products depends on how involved are employees in designing them very well. From my point of view, they are interconnected and their improvement follows the same path.
As I could have seen, the status of Wainwright’s continuous improvement efforts is tracked by “mission control”, which is the company’s information and analysis center. Trends for quality and performance indicators are displayed, and, for each customer, monthly satisfaction index scores are posted, along with trends for key quality measures, stretch targets for exceeding customer expectations, and weekly customer feedback reports. At the division level, quality trends and satisfaction ratings for all customers – internal and external – are formally reviewed weekly, by all associates.
With an experience of approximately 50 years, Wainwright Industries succeeded to be a profitable and dynamic company, which reached a healthy economic growth through its continuous investments in quality as well as through sustainable efforts to permanently update their technologies and working areas. The company succeed not only to survive through its ferm initiatives and actions, but it became one of the leaders in the industry We could say that for this business quality is the main feature of their services, products, relationships with staff, technologies ,methods used.
Everything is about quality. Their implication, devotion and improvement in providing high quality products and services turned them into a true customer focused business. The customer is put in the first place, because they appreciate him to be the center of their actions. This is reflected in the percentage of customer satisfaction that increased from 84% to 95%. As they are providing services for customers in the automotive, aerospace, home-security, and information-processing industries, they understood that quality is particularly important for the precision auto parts industry. If little piece of a product does not work properly, the whole quality of the product may be affected, putting in danger the life of many people. The respect they show to their employees, the fact that their suggestions are taking into consideration, the egalitarian culture they adopted are the core of their success. For me the fact that they invested so much in people is more important than the improvements in the product field. Of course, the quality concept is based on both of them as they ar strong related, but I could say that a good product cannot exist without people that are conscient of this thing.
Thus, the key to success is reflected by the management intention to look firstly for quality in people, and after that in products. As a manager, you should be capable to understand to what extent is important to make your employees to feel your goal and to work in that direction. This is the worth of the Wainwright company! From my point of view, there are no suggestions that should be made. They know very well what to do and how to do things. I could only appreciate them and consider them as one of the best examples in what concerns the concept of quality that I encountered in my readings.