Issue: Feb 2007


In search of excellence



Ralph Waldo Emerson: Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.

by Ed Richardson

Automotive Industries is on a quest – a “Quest for Excellence”. We are looking behind the badge, to the suppliers whose innovation, research and development, commitment to quality and a constant eye on costs are driving today’s auto industry.

More than ever, the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are asking their suppliers to come up with solutions to challenges presented by the constantly rising expectations of their customers and ever stricter legislation. The OEMs recognize that their suppliers are centers of excellence in their respective fields, and that they can be powerful partners in quest for market share. Or, more importantly, for profitable market share.
The importance of suppliers is always stressed at the different OEMs gala awards nights. Automotive Industries recognizes the importance of these awards and regularly carries features on them. But, as a publication focusing on the global auto supply industry, we want to give special recognition to the top suppliers.

We are inviting you, as one of our 50,000 audited recipients to nominate your top supplier or suppliers in our seventh “Quest for Excellence” awards. They can be 1st or 2nd tier suppliers, and they can be based anywhere in the world.

What we want is to honor the companies which are setting new standards for excellence in all they do – those who go beyond meeting the quality, price and delivery standards of their customers. In today’s increasingly competitive auto industry, those are simply the basics. OEMs which fail to apply the same standards for every component that goes into their vehicles – and to the after-market support structure are in trouble. Motorists expect everything in the car to match their expectation of value for money. Having a class-leading engine in a vehicle where the windows rattle or the tires wear out too soon does nothing for the brand. Neither does a disinterested dealer.

Similarly, a supplier which is excellent on delivery and price, but which aren’t proactive and are short on imagination and innovation can’t be defined as “excellent”. So, just what is excellence? The American Heritage Dictionary, defines excellence as “The state, quality, or condition of excelling; superiority. The word excel is defined as, “to do or be better than; surpass; to show superiority, surpass others.” In Rising Above the Crowd, Brian Harbour adds a different dimension: “Success means being the best. Excellence means being your best. Success, to many, means being better than everyone else. Excellence means being better tomorrow than you were yesterday. Success means exceeding the achievements of other people. Excellence means matching your practice with your potential.”

There is an even stronger view. Writing before dying of lung cancer in 2002, Dallas pastor J. Hampton Keathley, said the pursuit of excellence "should not be limited by the nature of the task" (i.e. that one should pursue excellence no matter how humble or menial one considers the task to be) and "works against a half-hearted, drift along or go-with-the-flow kind of mentality".
Writer Ralph Marston sums it up nicely: “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.”

With your help, we at Automotive Industries want to identify some of the secrets to supplier success and excellence. Why do they rate so highly with OEM customers and what keeps them at the head of the pack? What are some of the programs used to ensure continuous improvement and sustained strength?

Nominations for the 2007 Automotive Industries excellence awards should be made by going to our home page at www.ai-online.com and clicking on the “Quest for Excellence” logo.

Inspiring quotes from history

Samuel Johnson: Those who attain to any excellence commonly spend life in some single pursuit, for excellence is not often gained upon easier terms.

Charles R. Swindoll “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.


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