Sustained Performance Excellence

Sustainability — thriving in perpetuity [1] — finds its foundation in performance excellence. Performance excellence, in turn, finds its foundation in systematic management. Recent posts to this blog [2] proposed the Baldrige Criteria as a “table of contents” for a comprehensive management system. Such a system, diligently implemented and executed, provides an avenue to outstanding organizational performance.

The Baldrige Criteria are used to select winners for the national Baldrige Awards. Baldrige Award winners demonstrate that exceptional management systems produce exceptional results. (It is simply not possible to win a Baldrige Award absent outstanding results.) Since the Baldrige Award program began 25 years ago, there have been less than 100 winners — it’s that tough. This year, MESA Products, a small manufacturing and services firm, won for the second time!

MESA Products PhotoMESA Products provides corrosion protection products and services to the underground pipelines industry. MESA began as a one man show in 1979. By 2006, when MESA won its first Baldrige Award, MESA had grown to become a $27 million firm with 75 employees. By 2012, MESA had doubled in size — to $55 million and 139 employees. Pipeline corrosion protection is a mature, well established industry. MESA has plenty of capable competitors. And — in case you have forgotten — economic conditions over the past few years have made it a pretty tough time to double the size of your business. [3]

The following post from Blogrige, [4] the official Baldrige program blog, reports on an interview with MESA’s CEO on MESA’s experiences with the Baldrige Criteria:



CEO Tells How MESA Doubled Revenue since 2006 Baldrige Award

Posted on

Posted by Christine Schaefer

is a fast-growing small business that will soon receive its second Baldrige Award crystal. How did this provider of pipeline corrosion-control services and materials become a national role model for performance excellence?

MESA’s CEO Terry May answered this question recently in a video interview that will be presented at the Baldrige Program’s upcoming 25th Annual Quest for Excellence® Conference in Baltimore.

In the following excerpts, May first describes his company’s strategic efforts to expand its service business, developing its workforce as a foundation for growth:

Through our strategic planning process, we recognized an opportunity to get into the pipeline integrity area, and in analyzing that we were trying to decide if that’s really a direction we wanted to go because that move really was the first move in expanding our service offerings. . . . What [the expansion] required for us was a pretty significant investment in talent, in learning new skills, bringing on some additional people and developing a software tool.

In the interview, May also described his company’s focus on customer and supplier relationships:

First of all, when we talk about great relationships it’s not just our customers. We extend that relationship thing to our suppliers as well, and we believe that those relationships are what are going to make the difference between us and our competitors. . . . what creates a great relationship . . . starts off for us with quality and service . . . beyond that we want to be friends with our customers and our suppliers. We want to have personal connections. Those relationships provide opportunities to grow. They also provide opportunities to recover from issues.

May also detailed his company’s approaches in the areas of workforce environment and development:

MESA has five strategic objectives of which [being] a great place to work is only one. Some of the others include great service, great relationships, world class performance, and we don’t believe we’re going to be able to achieve those if we don’t have a great place to work . . . our core principles, integrity, respect, community, and fun, . . . provide a foundation [for] the type of environment we have here. . . . a place to work that people enjoy coming to . . . they have a place to learn, they have a place to grow, it’s a place of opportunity, and it’s a place to contribute to something a little bit bigger.

Most of the skills at MESA are learned after people come to work here, with some exceptions. . . . We’ve got a commitment to development and training that goes beyond just the current positions. We train for future positions as well, and when we evaluate talent we would much prefer to hire from within and move people up. So it’s a challenge for a small organization, but as we grow we’ve created additional opportunities that allow us to continue to move people around.

May described the value of the Baldrige Criteria this way:

First of all, it’s a proven business management model with lots of examples and successes—role models that you can look at. From its beginnings directed at manufacturing, it has expanded to include all different sizes and types of organizations and . . . evolved and adapted over the 25 years to meet current organizational and other challenges that have been presented.

[The Baldrige Criteria] present in a structured, documented fashion those requirements that, when consistently followed, will result in business or organizational success and performance.


May’s last remark, “[The Baldrige Criteria] present in a structured, documented fashion those requirements that, when consistently followed, will result in business or organizational success and performance”, pretty much says it all. It’s not the Awards. It’s the well conceived management system, thoroughly deployed and diligently executed, that produces and sustains outstanding results.

JERA LogoThoughtful comments and experience reports are always appreciated.

…  Chuck Harrington (

: Contact me when your organization is serious about pursuing Sustainability … CH

This blog and associated website ( are intended as a resource for smaller manufacturers in the pursuit of Sustainability. While editorial focus is on smaller manufacturers, all interested readers are welcome. New blog posts are published on Wednesday evenings.


[1] Werbach, Adam, Strategy for Sustainability, Harvard Business Press, Boston (2009), page 9


Learn more about MESA Products at from the Baldrige program’s winner profiles,
, as well as  MESA’s website,


[4] For more on Blogrige, see: