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Last Update: Monday June 21, 2021

Key Idea: Produce Quality

Delivering quality as defined by its customers is the only way small companies can compete against both the big guys and the new kids on the block.

Key Question:


Do what you do better than anyone else around.

Q:  Will Ron and Jim approve expenses that may not be in the budget if it means the quality of the project might suffer if the money isn't spent?

A:  Yes.  Jim said that their purpose for business is not just about making money.  It is about doing quality work.  The good news is that "paying forward" always work for the gracious in one way or another.  We don't have any cheap or greedy business owners here at Small Business School because our selection criteria would eliminate these types of owners.

Our favorite example of a business obessed with quality is Texas Nameplate.
After being in business 50 years, it had had its ups and downs and had settled into a rut. Its biggest customer, Lockheed, insisted that Texas Nameplate put itself into a structured quality program with the purpose of decreasing defects. In fact, Lockheed told Dale Crownover, the owner,  that Texas Nameplate had to improve its manufacturing processes if it was to continue being a supplier to Lockheed.

Dale didn't think they could afford high-paid consultants and the time taken away from production that a quality improvement program would demand, but he had no choice. To save money, Dale led the effort himself rather than bringing in someone from the outside, and even though the implementation distracted employees from the day-to-day operations, in the long run, the company has prospered. Today they are doing 30% more work with 30% fewer employees.

Dale says they achieved this remarkable turnaround by focusing on what he calls the company's seven key drivers which are:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Process optimization
  • Environmental consciousness
  • Controlled growth
  • Fair profit
  • External interface

Dale considers two business drivers to be most important: Customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction. To measure these drivers he regularly hires an outside firm to see what customers and employees think of Texas Nameplate.

Think about it

Do your customers think of you as their quality provider?  What do you do now to measure quality?  How do you know what others think of your product or service?

Clip from: Architects Altoon + Porter

Los Angeles, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Amsterdam : They worked for Frank Gehry and found that it had limits. So, architects Ron Altoon and Jim Porter started their own firm and today they are quite literally changing the world.

They do not try to cultivate "star power" but brain power. The result? This professional practice went global virtually overnight. Brain power translates into  extraordinary product power in any language!

Every customer and every architect is a star. Keep your egos in check.  Focus on customers and  growing your team. The result?  This firm now has ongoing work in 16 countries with more international work on the drawing boards for the future.

Like so many of our businesses that go global, they have proving that the world does want American products and services!

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Altoon Partners

Ron Altoon, Senior Partners

617 W 7th St #400
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Visit our web site:

Office: 2132251900

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1984

Produce Quality

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Since the doors opened, they have designed and put into construction over $2 billion worth of work. The Arthur Ashe Center on the campus of UCLA is one of the firm's more recent accomplishments.

RONALD: It was a building designed to repair the damage of multiple generations on the campus. This university was built in three generations. The first was eclectic and wonderful. The second was a post-war growth that was impersonal. And the third was somewhat irrelevant plot buildings. And so the patterns that you see here, the vertical and horizontal patterns of this original building are abstracted and caught up in the architecture of the new building. And it's created a zone here that's very enriching.

HATTIE: What is it that you're a part of as an architect?

RONALD: We are creating constantly. The act of creation is the most wonderful of human acts. And we're in the act of creating things that will stand the test of time.

JIM: We feel that, you know, one of, you know, our main goals in life in this profession is to do quality work, not just make money. It's not--we feel that the money will follow if we do quality projects, we do them in a businesslike manner adhere to--you know, we adhere to our, you know, requirements as well as the client's. And it will generate profitable business for us.

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