Some companies are finding that best practices don’t always start at home. A valuable resource for redefining operations can be found in The Baldridge National Quality Program, says Rob Marchalonis, general manager of Pennsylvania firm Stoner, which makes specialized cleaners and car-care products. According to Marchalonis, Baldridge doesn’t prescribe how to run a business but rather gives a framework of checks and balances that enables organizations to develop their own best practices. Stoner streamlined the Baldridge business excellence model to focus on three key components:  leadership, strategy and process. “One of our top beliefs under the leadership category is the concept of leadership at all levels. That means that we don’t want to have a company culture where some lead and others follow. We encourage everybody to think and act like an entrepreneur,” says Marchalonis. The company backs up its philosophy with rewards—20% to 50% of compensation is through incentives. The company also got rid of its human resource department, transferring those responsibilities to team leaders who conduct one-on-one meetings rather than bureaucratic annual reviews. “It really is a neat example of how Baldridge gives us the freedom to approach [human resources”> the way we would prefer,” says Marchalonis. The results are tangible—the company became a 2003 Baldridge winner, the smallest to date to do so, and has posted a 400% growth in sales over the last 15 years and 150% growth in manufacturing productivity since 1991.

Industry Week 1 Jul 2004