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Key Idea: Establish A Quality Program

After being in business 50 years, with all its ups and downs, the company was in a rut. Dale Crownover was encouraged by a customer to get involved in a formal continuous improvement program and that changed everything.    More on Dale...   More on Excellence...

Key Question:


Get out of your rut and try something new.

Q:  How did Texas Nameplate get out of its rut and why?

A:  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 that Texas Nameplate had to improve its manufacturing processes if it was to continue being a supplier to Lockheed.

Q:  How did they get the program in place and what happened as a result?

A:  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.

When we taped this story, Texas Nameplate had already won The Texas Quality Award then they went on to be the smallest company ever to win the Malcolm Baldrige, not once but twice!

Think about it

Could a formal quality program help increase profits?  Would it be motivational to employees?  Would it help you attract even more quality employees?  Could you hire someone or could you do what Dale did and put the program in place yourself?

Clip from: Texas Nameplate


Dallas, Texas: Dale Crownover took Texas Nameplate from being just another print shop to become the first small business to be given the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. You will find their nameplates are on virtually everything. They print those specialized labels that out last the item to which it is attached. And because of quality controls, this group is the international supplier to the world's largest companies.

When he went to Washington to receive the Baldrige, the other two winners, Boeing and Solar Turbines, and all DC bureaucrats listened in awe; this man talked about the essence of quality, family and this nation's charter to achieve and to always do better.

We can all learn from Dale and his people. Yet, they did not stop working at it;  and six years later, they received the award again!
You will quickly see that this is an extraordinary work force. When we first taped this episode of the show, nobody including Dale had a college degree and some employees had just received their high school diploma. Notwithstanding, here you learn how they make world-class products and reap plenty of profits.

Oh yes, today, Dale and others have earned a college degree.

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Texas Nameplate

Dale Crownover, Owner

1900 E. Ervay
Dallas, TX 75215

Visit our web site:

Office: 2144288341

Business Classification:

Year Founded:

Establish A Quality Program

HATTIE: (Voiceover) And then there's quality. Dale explains many small businesses don't have time to participate in quality awards programs, but for Texas Nameplate, it's been a great return on investment.

Today you're almost $4 million in sales. When you came in, where were you all?

DALE: We were probably about $2 million--a little over $2 million.

HATTIE: OK. So you've doubled it.

DALE: Yes, ma'am.

HATTIE: And you have not had to double the employee number.

DALE: No, ma'am, right now, we're--I think statistically, we're doing about 30 percent more work with 30 percent fewer people, but it's really because we have shared our vision and we've tried to incorporate their philosophies as well. We want their input, their ideas how we as a team can grow. And I remember making them a promise that I would make sure that they would benefit, that they would prosper, but the deal was that we had to work together, and that the company, obviously, had to prosper first. And I think I have a good relation with the people, but that's what I've tried to portray, that they want to be treated fairly and they want to be a part of something. And we're very big on that. We like to recognize them, let them know they're doing a good job, and they are.

It was about five years ago that a major customer of ours asked us to get involved with quality, and I remember distinctly that I told him we already had a quality program, that, you know, obviously, you can't stay in business without a good-quality product. And it was statistical process control that he was encouraging us that we could reduce re--defect rate. I'm not goning to say I didn't believe him, but I didn't think that it was applicable for us, nor could we afford it. And I remember telling him distinctly, I said, `The price of the nameplate might triple if we have to go through this process.' And I remember him saying that, `We never said we wouldn't pay the tripled price. We just want a defect-free part, on time.'

HATTIE: Now who was this customer? Do you mind saying who it is?

DALE: It was Lockheed, what used to be General Dynamics.

HATTIE: Right, Lockheed...

DALE: Yeah. And they mandated us to get involved with this quality, and if we did not, they would cut us off. And I personally got involved in the process, and I was the first one to go to the class. We did it all internally. And I liked what I saw. And through all the years I had been down here, I knew that we were making a lot of defect parts that...

HATTIE: You just have to throw them away.

DALE: Yeah. But...

HATTIE: So it's lost dollars.

DALE: Exactly. And as a manufacturer--too many manufacturers think, `Well, that's just a part of doing business.' But we addressed this, that, you know, we need to start looking at the front end: What do we need to do to assure that we can get this product, not only right the first time, but maybe even be more profitable? And maybe we don't have to keep having the price increases. I still think a lot of companies, to this day, have price increases because they do not look internally at what their price of non-conformances are. What you throw away, somebody has to pay for it. Price increases is a way you offset it. And I remember going to the bookstore and all I could see were these great big--the Lee Iacocca, the big-story guys. I couldn't find one on small businesses, and I got kinda intimidated, that it was almost like a small business couldn't do it. So I was almost determined that maybe we could do it, but we're gonna do it our way. And we did it internally ourself. We went to the training ourself and we spent endless hours training our people how to identify their processes, and we wanted them to tell us what we needed to do for them to do it better.

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