Print Manager
June 2009
Learn to become a 10 percenter
Grow your business and increase your profit margins with the Baldrige excellence model
I just received my copy of Charting Our Course—a Skills and Technology Roadmap for the Canadian Printing and Graphic Communications Industry, a report produced by The Canadian Printing Industries Sector Council (CPISC). The Council refers to it as a “vital planning tool” with “Seven Vital Recommen­dations” for printers. Sadly for me, they don’t have continuous improvement programs or excellence models as recommendations. However, CPISC in­cludes a final note about some companies that have achieved outstanding performance and profitability. It refers to these companies as “10 percenters” because they achieve profit margins of at least 10% and CPSIC identifies three of their attributes:
  1. Improving internal processes and reducing costs
  2. Their people 
  3. Strategically building their markets
These attributes are all included in the excellence models we’ve been discussing here for the last couple of months.
So far, we’ve talked about the Manage­ment Plus program from NAPL and this month I’m going to give you an overview of the mother of all Excellence Programs: The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. (The National Quality Institute in Canada has a similar program but no printers have won the award so I decided to concentrate on Baldrige.)
The Baldrige Award is given by the U.S. president to businesses that are judged outstanding in the seven following areas:
Leadership examines how senior executives guide the organization, and how the organization addresses its responsibilities to the public and practices good citizenship.
Strategic planning examines how the organization sets strategic directions and how it formulates key action plans.
Customer and market focus examines how the organization determines require­ments and expectations of customers and markets; builds relationships with customers; and acquires, satisfies, and retains customers.
Measurement, analysis, and know­­ledge management examines the management, effective use, analysis, and improvement of data and information to support key organization processes and the organization’s performance management system.
Workforce focus examines how the organization enables its workforce to develop its full potential and how the workforce aligns with the organization’s objectives.
Process management examines as­pects of how key production/delivery and support processes are designed, managed, and improved.
Results examines the organization’s performance and improvement in its key business areas: customer satisfaction, financial and marketplace performance, human resources, supplier and partner performance, operational performance, and governance and social responsibility. The category also examines how the organization performs relative to competitors.
I searched the winners list and found two printers that have won the award. Here are some of the highlights.
The Branch-Smith Printing Division in Forth Worth, Texas, was the 2002 award recipient for the Small Business Category. Branch-Smith Inc. is a fourth-generation, family owned business founded in 1910 by Aaron Smith. Born with no arms, Smith taught himself to write and type with his toes. Today the firm employs 68 full-time employees and specializes in providing a wide range of turn-key services to its customers—including designing, printing, binding, and mailing—related to sheetfed printing of multipage bound materials. In 2001, Branch-Smith Printing had more than $10 million in sales.
  • Branch-Smith Printing Division experienced 72% sales growth over four years and held that gain in 2002, when the industry declined 6.6%.
  • Value added sales per employee increased 33% over the previous five years.
  • From 1988 to 2001, Branch-Smith Printing slashed its level of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from 13 tons to six tons, well below the 10-ton threshold for state reporting requirements.
The other printing firm I found in the Malcolm Baldrige database is Clarke American Checks, Inc. This 2001 Award Recipient in the Manufacturing Category is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, and supplies personalized checks, chequing-account and bill-paying accessories, financial forms, and a growing portfolio of services to more than 4,000 financial institutions in the United States. It was founded in 1874 and employed about 3,300 people at 25 sites in 15 states.
  • Since 1996, its market share had increased by 50% to 26% in 200.
  • In 2001, more than 20,000 ideas from associates were implemented for a cost savings of an estimated $10 million.
  • Since 1997, surveys of partner organizations consistently had shown a 96% satisfaction rate.
  • If you want to investigate these excellence systems, please have a look at the NQI site or the Malcolm Baldrige site at
Lorne Patterson was managing director of Bowne’s financial printing operations across Canada. Since 2006, he has been a consultant to the printing industry. He lives in Vancouver, but heads to his second home in Puerto Vallarta whenever he can. Reach him at 
Lorne Patterson saw managing director of Bowne's financiak printing operations across Canada. Since 2006, he has been a consulant to the printing industry. He lives in Vancouver, but heads to his second home in Puerto Vallarta whenever he can. Reach him at
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