Seven 2003 Malcolm Baldrige Award Winners

Last month, President Bush presented seven organizations with the nation’s highest honor for quality and performance excellence, the 2003 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

The 2003 Award recipients are:

  •   Medrad, Inc. (Manufacturing)
  •   Boeing Aerospace Support (Service)
  •   Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation U.S. (Service)
  •   Stoner, Inc. (Small Business)
  •   Community Consolidated School District 15 (Education)
  •   Baptist Hospital, Inc. (Health Care)
  •   Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City (Health Care)

President Bush commended the recipients in his remarks at the award ceremony. Extracts of his comments are included below:

This year, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award goes to seven outstanding recipients. Each set ambitious goals; each organization worked hard to achieve them. You’re setting such a good example as a beacon of excellence. You represent the great strength and the entrepreneurial spirit of the American economy. I congratulate you for a job well done. 

Each recipient of today’s award earned it. When I say we need to be confident about our future, I’m confident because I  just heard the stories of great success. They got their best ideas from all kinds of places, whether it be from their workers, or their customers. They listened.

In the health care category, we have two winners: Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, Florida and Saint Luke’s Hospital, in Kansas City, Missouri. These hospitals have focused on serving patients and their families better. That’s what they focused on. They got their employees fully involved in measuring performance. Because of their excellence, both of these winners are saving lives. It must make you feel good to work in an industry in which you save somebody’s life. 

In manufacturing, we have Medrad Incorporated, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A maker of medical imaging devices, Medrad’s commitment to excellence runs from the top, from the CEO, John Friel. I’ll tell you what I like about John’s style; he spends a day each month on a front-line job. Here’s a fellow who is the CEO who mops the floors, who’s taken phone calls, who’s heard customer complaints, who works on the assembly line. He’s built a culture where everyone at the company has a voice in the way things are done.

Caterpillar Financial Services, of Nashville, Tennessee,  as well as, Boeing Aerospace Support, of St. Louis, provide maintenance and other services. These are good companies. Both companies have set up teams of employees to focus on quality. And as a result, both have a lot more happy customers.

In the case of Boeing Aerospace Support, one of their happy customers happens to be the nation’s Armed Forces. And if the nation’s Armed Forces are happy, I’m happy. 

I love the fact that we’re honoring the smallest business ever to win the Baldrige Award, Stoner Incorporated. Today is vacation day. The whole company is here. This company, which is in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, makes specialized cleaners, lubricants, and coatings. They have an interesting goal, an easy goal to understand — I like clear speakers — never lose a customer. And that focus has translated to company-wide quality.

And then we’ve got educational excellence. It’s an amazing story you just hear, the Community Consolidated School District 15 of Palatine, Illinois — faces challenges common to many of the school districts across America. But it achieves uncommon results. These people don’t make excuses for failure, see? They do what I call “challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations.” They expect the best. They believe every child can learn. 

It’s easy to say, we can’t achieve excellence because one-third of our students come from low-income homes. It’s easy to say, we can’t achieve excellence because English is not the primary language in the homes of another third of our students. Yet, because of rigorous testing and evaluation, and a commitment to high standards, the belief that every child can learn, 84 percent of the second graders read at or above grade level. It’s a fantastic accomplishment. The teachers are great in that school. I’m told that from the classroom to the cafeteria, every employee is committed to a single goal: no child should be left behind. 

I appreciate the example this school district has set. I appreciate the example all the companies here have set, as well. You’re now what we call quality experts, which means you’re going to get calls from other companies or organizations to find out how you won, what you did to achieve such good success. And I hope you share your knowledge. The country is better off when you’re willing to share how you achieved excellence with those who will want to accomplish the same goals.

Anyone looking for an easy answer, though, is going to be disappointed. It may sound easy in the speeches. It’s hard to win this award. This isn’t one of these deals where everybody gets a blue ribbon. You have to work hard. You have to be totally focused and committed to excellence. It has to be a part of your culture, your very being.

A good product, of course, is essential. It’s hard to be successful if you don’t make something somebody doesn’t want to buy. You’ve got to have a good business plan. But the most important ingredient is a great work force — people who live and work by the principles of excellence and fairness and team work and personal responsibility.

That’s really what we’re honoring today, isn’t it? Great work forces, people who are willing to strive for something greater than themselves. The Baldrige Award winners are showing one of the greatest strengths of this nation and our economy. Whether the challenge comes from a competitor across town, or from a competitor across the ocean, American workers are up to the job.