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Remarks at Baldrige Quality Awards


Wednesday, December 2, 2009



Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks at Baldrige Quality Awards
Washington, D.C.

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Thank you, Joe Alexander, and welcome everyone. This is a great occasion, and we are honored to have Vice President Biden with us today.

I want to recognize Malcolm Hollensteiner, Malcolm Baldrige’s nephew. We’re delighted you could join us.

I also want to acknowledge the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award Board of Overseers, the Baldrige Foundation, the American Society for Quality, and our wonderful Baldrige team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Thank you all for helping to make this program such a success.

And I’m delighted to have this opportunity to personally congratulate the recipients of the 2008 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards.

These awards, of course, are given in honor of one of the most well-respected Commerce Secretaries in U.S. history.

Malcolm Baldrige led this great institution for nearly seven years. He came to the office from industry, and he deeply believed in America’s ability to produce the best products and services in the world.

As Secretary, he challenged U.S. companies to overcome the strong global competition our nation was facing in the 1980s by focusing on quality.

And in 1987, Congress created the quality award program and named it after Mac Baldrige.

Many of us in state government and private industry saw the value in recognizing uncommon quality. During my service as Governor of Washington, I took a cue from Mr. Baldrige and established a quality and performance award to promote excellence.

Clearly, the organizations we’re recognizing today have set a very high bar.

The Obama administration has made it a priority to revitalize America's industrial sector and reform our educational and healthcare systems.

These three awardees, hailing from each of these sectors, are a shining example of quality and service done right.

There’s Cargill Corn Milling North America, which manufactures over 60 corn-and sugar-based products for more than 3,000 customers and employs 2,300 men and women.

Using a Scorecard and Best Practice Model to monitor and promote performance excellence, its earnings nearly tripled between 2003 and 2007.

Meanwhile, their cost of doing business dropped 5 percent from 2005 to 2008.

And during that same period, it maintained an error-free delivery rate of 99 percent.

Throughout, Cargill has exhibited an uncommon commitment to its employees and the communities where it operates.

In June 2008, when floodwaters destroyed its corn milling plant in Cedar Rapids, Cargill brought in its best people from around the country to get the plant up and running in a matter of months, and to assist in recovery efforts throughout the community.

Importantly, amidst the devastation, Cargill let its 200 Cedar Rapids employees know they’d continue to be paid and that they’d have a job to come back to.

Just the kind of commitment, you’d expect from an organization worthy of the Baldrige Award.

Then there is our second winner, Iredell-Statesville Schools, a K-12 public school system in southwestern North Carolina. With four central offices, 35 schools and a workforce of 3,400, it offers a variety of courses and educational programs to meet student needs.

Iredell-Statesville has built a collaborative atmosphere that encourages its teachers to work together to improve student learning.

In spite of a lower budget and per pupil expenditure, it has outperformed comparative districts at the state and national level. Student achievement is up from 55th to 9th out of more than 100 state school districts. And average SAT scores exceed national averages.

Finally, we honor Poudre Valley Health System, which offers a full spectrum of health care services through two hospitals in Colorado and a network of clinics and care facilities that also serve residents in Nebraska and Wyoming.

This locally-owned, private not-for-profit health care group has been recognized for patient loyalty, physician satisfaction, performance excellence, and competitive health care costs compared to local competitors.

Poudre’s leaders are renowned for facilitating seamless communication between management and staff and an organization-wide focus on high-performance and customer satisfaction.

It’s no surprise then that last year, Thomson Reuters, a national health care consulting firm, named Poudre Valley Hospital asone of its“100 Top Hospitals” for the fifth year in a row.

Though the 2008 Baldrige Award recipients hail from different sectors, they each serve as a model to all organizations who want to get the most out of their people and provide the very best service to their customers and the communities they serve.

Congratulations to all of you for a job very well done. . . .

Now I’d like to ask Alan Willits, president and business unit leader, and Greg Page, Chairman/CEO, Cargill, to come to the podium.

I’d like to ask David Cash, chairman, board of education, and Brady Johnson, superintendent, Iredell-Statesville Schools, to join us at the podium.

Would Rulon Stacey, president/CEO, and Priscilla Nuwash, director, process improvement, Pudre Valley Health System please come to the podium?

And now we’re going to hear from our award recipients.

I’d like to invite Alan Willits, president, Cargill Corn Milling, back to the podium.

It’s my great honor and pleasure now to introduce one of our nation’s most dedicated public servants, Joe Biden. He spent 36 years representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate, where he made it a great cause of his life to expand economic opportunity across this great country.

It’s work that Joe Biden has continued as Vice President. President Obama has named him to head the White House Task Force on Working Families, where he ensures that policymakers are staying focused on job creation and rebuilding America’s middle class. He is one of the president’s most trusted advisers, and we are honored to have him here with us, ladies and gentlemen my friend, the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden. . . .