At Kirchner Industries in Bridgeton, Mo., a year-old quality program has been dubbed successful by the company leaders. The 100-person company installed the quality program at a cost of about $20,000 a year, commitment from top management, and plenty of time and effort. Company president Dale Kirchner says that the rewards have come in improved customer relations, the best quality product possible, and a wealth of ideas coming from his employees.
The program consists of a nine-member steering committee and a number of smaller groups known as Corrective Action Teams (CAT). The steering committee is made up of nine managers, while the CAT teams are made up of a cross-section of employees from management and hourly workers from several departments. Each CAT team has a facilitator from the steering committee, but that person acts solely as a resource. Each team takes on a specific problem that is pointed out by customer and employee surveys.
Over the past year, CAT teams have tackled subjects including: Christmas gathering; employee of the month; car phones for the sales department; culls and overruns; storage of freezable materials; sample standardization; company safety standards; and centralized dispatch for the shipping department.