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Remarks at Baldrige Performance Excellence Awards

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Commerce Secretary John Bryson
Remarks at Baldrige Performance Excellence Awards

Thank you, Debbie [Collard]. And thank you for your leadership of the Baldrige Foundation, which is crucial to supporting this important program.

I want to recognize a few people: Malcolm Hollensteiner, who is Malcolm Baldrige’s nephew is with us tonight. Thank you. From Congress, it’s an honor to have Congresswoman Kay Granger of Texas. I also see Debbie Dingell, wife of Congressman John Dingell. I also see staff from other Michigan Congressional offices who are here to support Henry Ford Health System. And I’m sure there are others. Welcome.

I want to thank a number of people: High-caliber volunteers are central to this program. This includes the Board of Overseers who provide policy guidance and the Panel of Judges who recommend award winners.  It also includes the experts on the Board of Examiners.  Thank you all.

I also want to thank Undersecretary Gallagher and everyone at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. NIST does a great job coordinating all of the moving pieces that made this ceremony possible.  Let’s give them a round of applause.

And of course, I want to congratulate the people whose hard work and dedication to excellence have brought us together. Let’s applaud all of the recipients of the 2010 and 2011 Baldrige National Quality Awards.

As you might know, Malcolm Baldrige was the 26th Secretary of Commerce. If you have ever been by the Secretary’s suite on the 5th floor of the Commerce Department, you can walk down the hall and see portraits of former Commerce Secretaries.

Most of them are stodgy men in navy or black suits. They’re all very serious-looking. I will probably end up having one like that myself. But you stop immediately when you come across the portrait of “Mac” Baldridge. Unlike the others, it’s a colorful collage of images. In one corner you can see his boot with a spur. Near the bottom you can see him in his cowboy hat.

And I thought to myself: "Only in America would you find something like this." So I wasn’t surprised to learn that keeping America number one was what Mac was all about. The 1980s–when he served as Secretary–was the first time that foreign companies were starting to give us some real competition. So, Mac pushed our government and our private sector to increase our commitment to quality, performance, and innovation.

Because of his unrelenting commitment to those ideals, Congress named these awards in his honor. I think that if Mac were here today, he’d be proud. This is our biggest ceremony since the program started in 1988. I’m pleased to now recognize 11 new Baldrige Award recipients.

When I call your organization’s name, please stand.

  • For moving from good to great with exceptional clinical, service and financial outcomes, we recognize Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital from Downers Grove, Illinois.
  • For nearly 150 years of publishing quality products for churches around the country, we recognize Concordia Publishing House from St. Louis, Missouri.
  • For providing top-notch engineering and other consulting services, we recognize Freese and Nichols from Fort Worth, Texas.
  • For serving as one of the nation’s leading comprehensive and integrated health systems, we recognize Henry Ford Health System from Detroit, Michigan.
  • For delighting one guest at a time with exceptional burgers, fries, shakes and barbecue, we recognize K&N Management from Austin, Texas.
  • For driving innovation and improved patient outcomes in diagnosing and treating disease, we recognize – for its second Baldrige award – MEDRAD, from Warrendale, Pennsylvania.
  • For dedicated service to a diverse community with more than 144,000 students, we recognize Montgomery County Public Schools from near here in Rockville, Maryland.
  • For manufacturing products that help people take care of their pets throughout the country, we recognize Nestle Purina PetCare Company from St. Louis, Missouri.
  • For providing specialized care and critical services in a rural region, we recognize Schneck Medical Center from Seymour, Indiana.
  • For providing health and wellness services to Alaska Native peoples in an area that spans roughly 100,000 square miles, we recognize Southcentral Foundation all the way from Anchorage, Alaska.
  • And for providing coaching and evidence-based tools to help health care organizations and hospitals around the U.S., we recognize Struder Group from Gulf Breeze, Florida.

As you know, meeting the Baldrige criteria is no walk in the park. It’s clear that each of you made a strong institutional commitment. And today, you are role models of excellence in so many ways:

  • From empowering your employees to fulfill their highest potential. . .
  • To providing leadership both in your companies and in your communities. . .
  • To creating some of America’s best products and services that bring value to your customers every day.

So when President Obama talks about out-building, out-competing and out-innovating the rest of the world, he’s talking about you.  

In fact, the Baldrige Foundation and the Commerce Department have studied the success of Baldrige award winners over the years.  

  • Baldrige small-business winners show increased sales, profits, and market share.
  • Baldrige manufacturing winners’ revenues increased nearly 50 percent annually, on average.
  • Baldrige hospital award winners have better financial and patient outcomes than others.
  • Baldrige schools show better test scores and higher graduation rates.

Most important, Baldrige winners create jobs. You’re part of the reason that America has created over four million jobs over the past 25 months and U.S. exports hit a record $2.1 trillion last year. Today, our job is not yet done. But with your help, we can create an America that is Built to Last.

Thank you all for taking on the exciting challenge of competing for a Baldrige award. And again, congratulations on your awards.