Security was high as Baldrige Awards are presented.

Alexandria, VA—Amid heavy security and a heightened terror level, Vice President Dick Cheney presented the Baldrige Awards to three organizations, including one company that was cited for its work related to homeland security.

With bomb sniffing dogs outside, Cheney told several hundred business leaders, who had to pass through metal detectors and undergo a thorough search, that an emphasis on quality and performance was crucial to the economic prosperity and strength of the nation. At the May 21 award ceremony he lauded the three companies for their continuous improvement.

“The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards are not given out lightly. They must be earned,” Cheney told the crowd. “To win a Baldrige Award, just being good isn’t good enough. You must be great.”

The winner in the manufacturing category was Motorola Commercial Government and Industrial Solutions Sector (Schaumburg, IL). This was the second such award for the company, which also won the inaugural Baldrige Award in 1987. Other winners included: Branch-Smith Printing Division (Fort Worth, TX), who won in the small business category, and SSM Health Care (St. Louis), who won in the health care category. This was the first year that a health care category was established.

Cheney cited Motorola’s CGISS division for the two-way radio communications products used by first responders in emergencies. Bob Barnett, executive vice president, Motorola Inc., and past president of the CGISS, accepted the award.

“The products we make enable our public safety, government and business customers to achieve their mission,” Barnett said. “We are at the forefront of homeland security in assisting our first responders. In addition, our Motorola team is currently meeting the critical communications needs of our military personnel in Iraq. And, as we move into the reconstruction phase, we are prepared to do considerably more.”

According to Barnett, the company applied for the award, but not with the idea of winning, but with the goal of receiving the evaluation of the Baldrige examiners. “It (the evaluation) reinforced where we were strong and provided valuable information on areas where we could improve, making it perhaps the most cost-effective, value-added business consultation available anywhere in the world today.”

Barnett added that during the past four years, the division has identified ways to improve its processes and business results, made changes and closed gaps. “From that effort, we now have many best-in-class, best-in-world processes and results—in customer satisfaction, market share and customer-delivered quality, to name a few,” he said.

CGISS uses a state-of-the-art, fully deployed intranet data and information system to gather, integrate, share and review all business and operational information, including organizational capacity and supplier information. This has enabled the Illinois-based company to reduce defect rates and improve cycle times and customer satisfaction. According to CGISS, its product defect rate is 52 parts per million, or 5.38 Sigma. Manufacturing cycle time (book to bill) for subscriber equipment improved 26% from 1999 to 2002. Additionally, employee productivity, measured as sales per employee, increased 32% over the 1999-2002 period.

The other winners also showed similar improvement. Branch-Smith Printing experienced a 72% growth in sales over four years and held that gain in 2002 despite the printing industry declining 6.6%. SSM Health Care increased the number of physicians connected to an automated information system from 3,200 in 1999 to 7,288 in 2002.

Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans, quoting Aristotle in his remarks, said, “Aristotle said, ‘Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit,’ and the 2002 Malcolm Baldrige Award winners made excellence a habit and a part of their corporate culture. And now they’re sharing their wisdom. The Baldrige program, itself, has become part of America’s culture. It is recognized around the world as a powerful tool to help any organization improve its performance.”

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award was established in 1987 to improve performance in U.S. organizations. Awards are made to organizations that have substantially benefited the economic or social well-being of the United States through improvements resulting in performance excellence. Awards can be given in five categories: manufacturing, service, small business, education and health care.

The application process is rigorous and thorough. Applicants for the award submit up to 50 pages of details showing processes, improvements and results in seven areas, including leadership, customers and markets, human resources and strategic planning. Each applicant receives more than 400 hours of review by an independent board of business, education and health care experts and a detailed report citing strengths and opportunities for improvement. Since 1988, 49 organizations have received the Baldrige Award.

The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence are used worldwide by thousands of organizations to assess and improve their overall performance. Since 1988, approximately 2 million copies of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence have been distributed, and wide-scale reproduction by companies and electronic access add to that number significantly.

Each Baldrige award winner receives a Steuben crystal pillar encasing a gold medallion engraved with the Presidential seal and the words, “The Quest for Excellence.” The award is named after quality-proponent Malcolm Baldrige who served as Secretary of Commerce under President Reagan from 1981 until his death in a rodeo accident in July 1987.