Baldrige National Quality Award 1994 Recipient
Viewing supplier-certification programs as opportunities to improve, Wainwright has responded by earning the status of preferred supplier to a growing number of quality-conscious customers. The company also leverages the strengths of its own suppliers, tapping the expertise and capabilities of a chemical supplier, for example, in a successful effort to eliminate hazardous materials from its operations. Finally, Wainwright's search for better ways of doing business crosses industry boundaries, as evidenced by benchmarking visits to acknowledged world-class performers in the electronics, textiles, and other industries.
Rising levels of customer satisfaction and steadily increasing new and repeat business indicate that Wainwright is putting good ideas into action. Since 1992, overall customer satisfaction has jumped to 95 percent, up from 84 percent. Over the same span, defect and scrap rates, manufacturing cycle time, and quality costs have ratcheted downward, attesting to improving levels of operational efficiency.
Wainwright aims for "total customer satisfaction," a moving target that the company tracks through extensive sets of quality measures that are aligned with five overriding strategic indicators. In priority order, these indicators are: safety, internal customer satisfaction, external customer satisfaction, six sigma quality, and business performance.
To ensure that associates have the knowledge and skills necessary to accomplish quality and performance objectives, the company invests up to 7 percent of its payroll in training and education. All associates take courses on quality values, communication techniques, problem solving, statistical process control, and synchronous manufacturing - a systematic method for identifying and evaluating opportunities to simplify processes and reduce waste. Other training is tailored to individual needs. The company encourages associates to pursue promotions, and it provides full reimbursement for courses taken for professional and personal development.
Taking a page from one of the companies it benchmarked, 1989 Baldrige Award winner Milliken & Company, Wainwright implemented a continuous improvement process designed to elicit suggestions from associates and fully engage them in quality efforts. After some fine tuning of the process, the flow of suggestions has increased from a trickle to nearly a torrent, with each associate implementing a average of 54 ideas for improvement in 1993. Supervisors respond to each suggestion within 24 hours of submission.
directly from their own good ideas - in the form of increased profit-sharing
payments, for one example, and improved workplace safety, for another.
Between 1990 and 1993, the number of recordable accidents decreased 72
percent, and annual workers' compensation costs fell 86 percent. High
rates of attendance (greater than 99 percent for the all-salaried workforce)
and turnover rates that are lower than industry and local averages are
among several indicators of high levels of job satisfaction among Wainwright
At the division level,
quality trends and satisfaction ratings for all customers - internal and
external - are formally reviewed weekly, by all associates. In addition,
senior management conducts monthly reviews. All in-house training, staff
meetings, and presentations to customers and suppliers are held in the
"mission control" room, helping to keep quality foremost in
the minds of Wainwright associates and their partners.
In helping to strengthen
relationships with customers, the pursuit of quality has made Wainwright
a stronger competitor. Since initiating its continuous improvement process
in 1991, the company reports steadily growing market share for its major
products, productivity gains exceeding industry averages, and increasing