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New mindset.

Quality Management Makes The Grade For Texarkana Fabricating Company

Carpco Sales & Service Co. of Texarkana is in the process of opening a new 40,000-SF manufacturing facility in nearby New Boston, Texas.

The expansion is the fruit of Carpco's quality management program planted in 1989.

"Without it, we wouldn't be expanding at all," says Ken Carpenter, Carpco president. "Quality management has been the primary reason for our success in the last year and half."

The Arkansas Industrial Development Commission is instrumental in promoting the idea of quality management throughout the state.

According to Carpenter, the current business climate has been the most difficult in 15 years.

The steel fabricating company, which employs 80, is generating annual sales of $7 million even in these tougher times thanks to the quality management program.

Twenty-six employees went through an 11-week class at Texarkana Community College. They studied statistical process control to analyze methods of production.

The company footed the program's $3,500 bill with some skepticism, which has since changed to boosterism.

"By the time we reached the midway point, I already felt like we had recovered our investment," Carpenter says. "The return jumped to tenfold after completion of the course."

Both workers and managers were enthusiastic about the ideas and concept of quality management. However, they were not receptive to change when it came down to making individual change to facilitate the program.

"We had terrible opposition," Carpenter says. "They would hunker down and not want to budge."

But those who were willing to make even a little bit of change got caught up in the wave sweeping through the company.

Making It Happen

Employees were buoyed by the monetary incentive of the company's profit-sharing plan. Wages also have managed to stay ahead of the annual inflation rate.

Financial reward wasn't the prime motivation for many employees. They didn't want more money. They wanted recognition for their achievements, which the quality management program helped bring to the forefront.

"They became the owner of a job, and you don't need to worry about profitability when you have that kind of attitude," Carpenter says. "There was never a problem of having the talent to do the job within the company. The problem was promoting the abilities to do the best job."

Daily department meetings at 7 a.m. serve as an open forum for workers to make suggestions, point out problems that effect productivity and quality or discuss workload and production schedules.

Managers act as facilitators while the employees keep things rolling with observations in meetings that often last 10 minutes, or longer if need be.

The arrangement functions as an internal customer relationship, within departments and between departments. If someone doesn't do their job, it affects everyone.

The company motto is: "We don't want heroes. We want zeros." It's a reference to the company's goal of zero defects, or at least having as close to a zero standard deviation from production specifications as possible.

That goal is extended beyond the individual "hero" employee to encompass all departments in a team perspective of quality.

"Quality is free," Carpenter says. "Lack of quality is the downfall of small business."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Journal Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Across Arkansas; Carpco Inc.
Author:Waldon, George
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Sep 14, 1992
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