July 28, 2020

Quality in Quality Out

By Paul Daniels

Quality not only sells but adds to efficiencies that will contribute to your bottom line. When I was growing up, my brother and I worked summers, weekends and some school vacations for my grandfather “Charley.” He was a finish carpenter who made his living building additions and porches and remodeling homes and businesses. I not only got to learn a trade, but an education on running a business as well.

Even though this was a small business, Charley never had more than one to two helpers along with my brother and me. He developed strong habits that were central to his success. For example, Charley would always pick up his stock in person. The guys at the lumber yard would cringe when they saw him pulling in. He would go directly to the woodsheds and start going through the lumber pile. When he was picking framing, rafters, 2 x 4s, etc., Charley would check each piece to make sure they were straight, not twisted or curved and that there were not too many knots, especially near the ends where we would be cutting or nailing. He was even more picky when it came to finish pieces and molding. Charley knew that this time spent at the start of the job would pay off many times over by the end.

Later in my career we picked up a program to manufacture truck sliding windows for Toyota trucks. The Toyota engineers came to our plant to review and approve our manufacturing processes. The head engineer reminded me of Charley. He went straight to the inbound freight area and spent the week reviewing our inbound inspection process. Who was in charge? What would trigger 100% inspection? What did we do with quarantined product? He knew that the earlier in the process you can catch an error the more time and money will be saved.

Recently I was talking to a frustrated fabricator who was venting after receiving some product that came in wrong. He explained that he could live with long lead times or freight damage, but what cost them the most was receiving bad product. It’s important that you follow a quality program in your company, but you need to make sure your vendors do as well. Whether you are purchasing parts and pieces or finished product, you want to purchase product from companies that deliver installable product. Price is always important, but you need to work with vendors that do not add costs to your projects through poor quality. Good quality habits will not only add to your bottom line, but please your customers as well.