Among the more than 100 who attended the breakfast were many of the 43 professionals who passed this year's Certified Window Treatment Consultant Program. Of them, Colleen Aracich of Guam was singled out for achieving the highest certification score ever. Aracich recorded 148 points out of a total of 150.
WCAA Executive Director Bill Nathan also introduced the WCAA's new officers. They are: Richard Frederick, president; William Weisberg, vice president; and Larry Lariviere, treasurer.
A highlight of the symposium was the presentation of the 1996 WCAA Industry Achievement Award to Karla J. Nielson, Allied ASID, IDEC, WCAA. Nielson is an assistant professor of design at Brigham Young University, a practicing interior designer and author of several books including Understanding Fabrics. Nielson's Window Treatments is the textbook used by the WCAA for its certification program, of which Nielson is a frequent presenter. Nielson "exemplifies the WCAA goals of professionalism, ethics and service, and it is quite fitting for her to be the first educator to receive the award," Nathan said.
The symposium's keynote speaker was William J. Hensler, director, TQM Center of Excellence, Coopers & Lybrand LLP. Hensler described how a total quality management (TQM) program can improve customer satisfaction as well as business and financial performance.
Thirty percent of a company's revenues is wasted because of poor quality management, Hensler said. Customers want defect-free products and services delivered on time, he added. To improve results, businesses must provide customers with what they say they want, additional benefits they assume they will get and a few extras they don't ask for or expect.
Hensler used the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award criteria as a framework for helping companies achieve TQM. That framework consists of a seven-step process for analyzing business practices: Leadership. Companies must have a highly visible leader with a strong customer focus and someone willing to continually learn about the market and customers. Information and analysis. A strong analytical capability and a focus on actionable data. Strategic planning. Develop long-term goals based on current and future customer requirements. Human resources development and management. Recognize employees as assets contributing to the success of the company and invest in their training and education. Process management. Develop methods to deliver consistent high-quality product and services repeatedly. Business results. Measure how well you're doing and demonstrate how results are linked to financial performance. Customer focus and satisfaction. Improve market knowledge by using surveys, complaints, sales follow-up calls and competitors' customers as listening posts.
Hensler urged those in attendance to read the National Quality Award criteria, perform a self analysis on their own businesses and develop plans to improve. He encouraged them by adding, "It's so easy to make improvements."