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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Make A Quality Product

Small business owners know we don't have much room for error. Our customers are depending upon us to do what we say we will do. Winning the business in the first place is hard, and it is very smart not to lose business because of lapses in quality. The way to stay in business is to deliver consistent quality to the customer.

Key Question:


Make a quality product.

Q:  How do you know if your product is good enough?

A: The customers will tell you. However, the best business owners improve the product even when the customer is already happy. You must keep asking yourself: "How can I make this better?" You can never rest; you can never stop thinking; you can never stop improving. The minute you do, someone will take your customers away from you.

Henry Chin told us that Ziba Design is good at what they do because they all strive for perfection. That is the quality they're pushing in themselves and for the company.

The Anglican Rev. John Wesley based an entire theology around a doctrine of Christian perfection and an entire denomination evolved as a result. Yet, we certainly all fall short of being perfect and the quantum physicists among us know that there is an inherent chaos deep within the fabric of things. So we are relegated to perfect moments -- flashes of insight or bliss or knowing.

Q: We grow up learning the basic comparative analysis -- good, better, best -- but what is the best? Can anything ever be perfect?

A: Sohrab Vossoughi, founder of Ziba Design, would answer, "No, you know it can be done better." At Ziba, they challenge themselves to constantly take the next step on the road to perfection. Just as they know it will never be totally and in every way perfect, they know they can always do better. This is a subject near and dear to the heart of our executive producer, Bruce Camber. He has made a study of the physics and theology of perfected states for over 25 years. He found that throughout all of science and all religions, each in some manner shares the three conditions that define the continuum of perfection.

This is what he has found:

  • The most simple perfection is order; here there are continuity conditions.
  • A higher perfection is defined by a relation and here that relation is experienced as a symmetry.
  • A transformative perfection is within real time; it is a dynamic moment that is experienced as harmony.

Along that continuum, the possibilities approach infinity for higher or transformative perfections. Or as your Mom always said, "There is always room for improvement."

 Dale Crownover, owner of Texas Nameplate,  got into a quality improvement program because a customer suggested he do so. At Oregon Log Homes, logs are hand- stripped and crafted to specifications drawn on computers. To guarantee near perfection,  each home is built on its lot first then dismantled and shipped to the customer site.  Laurie Snyder of Flap Happy  won the business of L.L. Bean because they love her quality. At PING Golf, perfection is the corporate mantra.

Watching Mike's face when he pulls a loaf of bread out of the oven to show our cameras tells the story.  He believes Calise makes the best Italian bread in the world and his local customers agree with him.

Think about it

Is your business the best that it can be? Is it getting better with every product or service it delivers? Have you created an environment in your company where your team constantly strives for perfection? How do you measure quality? What quality controls do you have in place now? What quality controls would you like to have?

Clip from: Calise & Sons Bakery, Providence

Providence, Rhode Island:  Visit an old New England family business. With roots back to 1908,  the Calise & Sons Bakery has been through the good times and the bad.  The founder gave the reins to his four sons and they just about ran that business into the ground. Three grandchildren came to the rescue. They bought the business, and then went to work to retire the debt. They did it, then they built the business beyond anyone's wildest expectation.

Calise & Sons Bakery now serve most of New England, New York and Pennsylvania and increasingly they'll be serving the world. Big chains and grocery stores -- The Olive Garden, Shaws and Albertsons -- depend on them. But, you know, even with such success, it is just not easy. 

The Calise brothers make bread from the same recipes their grandfather brought from Italy.  Yet, it took them nearly 30 years to bring this company back from the brink. The brothers learned on the job. Though there are no MBAs here, their management practices are now case studies in major business textbooks.

The adoption of technology and the acquisition of competitors have fueled growth and prosperity. These owners quickly learned a key big business secret -- grow by acquiring your competition.

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Calise & Sons Bakery

Michael Calise, VP, Sales

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Business Classification:
Food - Bakery - Bread

Year Founded:

Make A Quality Product

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Since 1972, everything at Calise & Sons has changed except the dedication to quality Italian bread making.

MIKE: This is a split row. It's used for any type of sandwich you want. This is baking about 840 dozens an hour, 9,600 pieces.

HATTIE: Why is this conveyor so complicated?

MIKE: The purpose of it is to give it time to get to between 95 and 104 degrees 'cause that's how we like to package our product.

HATTIE: Michael, what kind of bread is this?

MIKE: Traditional Italian bread.

HATTIE: And so wait a minute, you can just pick it up? Isn't it really hot?

MIKE: Yeah, well, it's about 210 degrees, but I have bakers' hands. I been doing this all my life.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) The Calises have been recognized by their peers. Where did you come up with this?

MIKE: This logo was devised by Jimmy and my management people when he came back from American Institute of Baking.

HATTIE: And you're proud of this piece of bread?

MIKE: I'm very proud of this. I'd put this against anybody's.

HATTIE: What do you think it takes to grow a business? I mean, you guys started with a recipe.

JOE: Blood, sweat and tears; a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

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