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Public Papers - 1991 - November

Remarks to Marlow Industries Employees in Dallas, Texas


Thank you for that wonderful welcome. But look, you've got it backwards, Barbara and I came down to applaud you all -- [laughter] -- and congratulate you on this national honor. And it is national. And it is international now. And we're very, very proud.

I've just had an opportunity to look through the plant, and I'm very proud of what everybody has accomplished. I might commend my fellow Texan and Cabinet member, Bob Mosbacher because he puts the emphasis on quality. That takes a lot of his time, but he's also putting a lot of emphasis on expanding markets abroad. And one of the great opportunities for this country is to have ever-increasing exports. And I know that this company that has been described as small is already participating vigorously in international markets.

Bob has gone out around the country, and he's organized seminars in some 25 cities in this country. And the common denominator in all of these is that quality is what sells American goods and services, here and abroad.

Ray said it best, and I salute him. I salute all of you and your families. I see a couple of junior Troy Aikmans over here in Dallas Cowboy shirts. [Laughter] And they're getting ready for a little quality themselves, I think. But I'm honored to be here today, and I really mean that. Because we are proud of your outstanding work in earning what is now a very coveted national award, the National Quality Award named in honor of our great friend, Barbara's and mine and Bob Mosbacher's, the late Mac Baldrige.

I was impressed, Ray, by the tour of the plant. I feel as though I've just gone through a crash course: dewpoint hydrometers, parametric amplifiers. I can't pronounce them, and I just hope I can get out of here without a quiz on what the heck it is you guys do. [Laughter] But all I know is you do it well.

I want to compliment the makers of this map behind us and also the map over on the other side, a work of true imagination. At first glance you walk in here, I expect you might think that it's a conventional map of the world. But a more careful inspection shows that it is a symbolic picture of Marlow's ambitious business goals and expectations. And look at it this way: It's a whole world of your own making.

It reminds me of a remark by the great American revolutionary, Thomas Paine. As Americans fought in the War of Independence, which was a struggle for free enterprise as well as political reform, Paine said, ``We have it in our power to begin the world all over again.''

Today we are celebrating a new revolution. It doesn't involve cannons and muskets and political tumult, but it is a revolution all the same. You ought to look at it every time you do something across the way in the plant as a revolution. And I'm talking, of course, about the movement in American business for quality improvement.

The best businesses in America, large and small, are renewing, even reinventing themselves to become and to remain world-class competitors. Our companies are overthrowing these outdated and antagonistic barriers between labor and management. They're replacing us-versus-them divisions with real teamwork.

The quality revolution is driving bureaucracy out of our business organizations. Companies are doing away with stratification, leaving as little distance as possible between the most junior employee and the CEO. In this quest, employees at every level are enjoying more power, more incentive, more freedom to create, and more responsibility for their efforts. And with that goes more pride.

We're improving the quality of our products and services with the keenest tools of statistical process control. This revolution that you all are participants in, this quality revolution, topples barriers that used to isolate the backroom ``number crunchers'' from the people who work on the assembly lines and the service counters. So, we're learning how to prevent defects in the first place, instead of correcting them later.

Most important, the quality revolution helps American companies to put the satisfaction of customers at the forefront. Winning organizations know that customers don't want just the best that one company can offer; they want the best that anyone in the world can offer.

Ray Marlow has described quite succinctly what the commitment to corporate quality means. He tells me that the company's receivables and payables are timely, the profit-sharing and taxes are paid, and the revolving bank debt is paid routinely. [Laughter] And, most important, you've got a little cash in the bank. But then he goes on to make this point, which is a credit to all of you, saying that while these are the results, ``they cannot be the goals in and of themselves. The goal must be quality.'' I believe, Ray, that every CEO and every company in America would benefit by sharing your philosophy, the philosophy that these good people practice every day, about effort and results.

The new commitment that we have to world-class excellence will make our businesses stronger than ever as we come out of this recession. And the most important long-term indicators are favorable, I might add, for national recovery. Interest rates are near the lowest in a decade and a half. Industrial production increased in September and rose by an annual rate of more than 6 percent in the third quarter. Manufacturing productivity rose at 3.6 percent annual rate during the second quarter. And the first estimates, that I'm sure that some of you all have seen in the papers, have the gross national product, the GNP, of the country rising 2.4 percent in the third quarter.

So, yes, there are a lot of problems out there. But these indications are good. And I'm one who prefers to see the glass half full rather than criticizing all the time and seeing the glass half empty.

In this climate, one thing I'm determined not to do is to bust the budget deal up there in Washington that caps Federal spending and then, if we busted it, would open up the floodgates for congressional tax-and-spend policies. You all are working for a living and you need some protection from too much Federal spending.

That's why, in this recent, highly pronounced struggle about unemployment compensation, I want one that will comply with the budget agreement: get the checks out to those families who are off of benefits, who are entitled to them, but -- get those out, but not do it by burdening everybody that is working or everybody that's out of work that's paying taxes by increasing their taxes.

And so we're going to keep on working. And I believe that I can if I stay the course, and I plan to do that. I believe we can get a fair unemployment compensation bill that won't burden everybody else and that, yet, will help those families that are desperately in need of help. So, we've got a good proposal. And I find I'm going to stay with it, and I think it's going to help everyone.

I might say parenthetically that Bob and I are doing our level best to pursue economic policies that let companies like this one lead the way to quality. This means we're going to try, as I said, to hold the line not on needed spending but on the wasteful side of the spending equation. I want to see us do things in the tax system to stimulate the creation of new businesses like this one: new businesses, new opportunity, new job.

Some say, ``Well, he's for capital gains reduction.'' I'm for jobs. And they cut capital gains in '78, and it increased jobs and opportunities, and new businesses sprung up. And I'd like to see that happen again. Need a little help with the Congress.

One of the things that I don't want to do is burden the workers of this company with further regulation, or certainly, needless regulation. You don't need some Federal guy coming out of Washington, looking over your shoulder to see you're doing the job all right. You know what to do. You did it so well you got this award. And so, yes, there's some regulation, but let's not have any more needless regulation out of Washington, DC.

I guess the bottom line is that the potential of this quality revolution that you all are involved in, no matter how big your job, no matter how confined your job, you're involved in a quality revolution. And the potential of that reaches far beyond anything that appears on a balance sheet.

Look at educating the kids of this country. David Kearns, who led Xerox -- they were a big, great big company, as you know. They won the same award a couple of years ago that you've won this year. And now that man, David Kearns, is in public service as the Deputy Secretary of Education. He and Governor Alexander are working to literally reinvent schools. They're trying to do in education what you have done through injecting quality into your work in this plant. And we need to take a new look at education, give parents more choice, and give these kids the best education possible by ``thinking anew,'' as Abraham Lincoln once said.

I wish you all could have known the guy for whom the award you have won was named, Mac Baldrige. He was really a -- he came out of the East, but he was really a westerner. He had a marvelous place out in New Mexico, and he loved riding. And he was a cowboy, honored by the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. He was a rough-riding Renaissance figure, and he was the kind only found in our great country. He was a close friend. I can't repeat every joke he told me, but nevertheless, I can tell you -- [laughter] -- he had a marvelous sense of humor. And for Barbara and me, his untimely loss there in that rodeo arena leaves us still -- trying to describe how I felt about him -- leaves us still with a personal sense of loss.

When he was in Bob Mosbacher's job during the eighties, he worked hard to liberate American business from regulation and yet keep the focus on quality. As much as he cherished economic freedom, he believed that it wasn't worth much if companies failed to do their very, very best. So Mac spent much of his time urging American business to pursue excellence. The National Quality Awards competition, and I know it must have seemed a pain to those of you who had to fill out these endless forms, but nevertheless, it was worth it. And those competitions are one of the great legacies of Mac Baldrige.

Let me just recite for those not from the plant that these relatively small companies that won it, each an electronics manufacturer, merited the award. They were Solectron Corporation out in San Jose, California; they were Zytec of Eden Prairie, Minnesota; and, of course, this wonderful company, Marlow Industries right here in Dallas.

And I think, as participants in this victory, you can say that all three winners, and certainly yours, prove that American enterprise can succeed in world-class competition involving the most sophisticated technologies and having to satisfy the most discerning of customers. And this makes our country very, very proud. And I happen to believe that small business, smaller businesses are the, I know that they are the largest creator of jobs. I believe 80 percent or more of the jobs are in small business.

And what you've done here is to demonstrate that you can have the same quality, if not better, than those companies that have been in business for years and years and years.

So for me, seeing what you do, looking into your faces, shaking a few hands across the way, it's a good day. And I am very, very proud to be with the men and women of Marlow Industries right here today, proud to congratulate you for navigating this ``Baldrige Award Strait'' on the map of dreams.

Now it's your mission to help other companies across the Nation chart their journeys to world-class performance. I hope this little visit results in that, because we believe in you, we believe in your work, and we know you're setting a tremendous example for the entire country, the United States, still the greatest, freest country on the face of the Earth.

Thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:30 p.m. in Northgate Business Park following a tour of Marlow Industries. In his remarks, the President referred to Raymond Marlow, President and CEO of Marlow Industries, and Lamar Alexander, Secretary of Education. These remarks were not received in time for publication in the appropriate issue.

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