Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey
“MESA was a growing successful company before we heard the word ‘Baldrige,'” said Terry May, CEO and president of MESA, a 2012 Baldrige Award recipient. “But something happened between 2002 and 2006 [when MESA began weaving Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence principles into its business model], we transformed ourselves from a good company to a world-class organization.”
Speaking at the 25th Annual Quest for Excellence Conference©, May said that MESA has been in business over thirty-four years, starting with just one person in 1979 and growing to a successful, sustainable organization of 150 employees across seven regional headquarters. MESA, a leading supplier of cathodic protection systems and pipeline integrity solutions that provides materials, fabrication, engineering, integrity, and installation services, has received the Baldrige Award twice (2006 and 2012), the Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium’s 2012 Compass Award, and Baldrige-based Oklahoma Quality Award in 2006, among other recognitions.
“I’m a small business owner who has made a career of striving for excellence while building a great team [called One MESA],” May said. Following the path of providing superior value through people, passion, products, processes, profitability, and professionalism (MESA renamed its ‘mission, vision, and values’ to ‘purpose, path, and principles’ to create a buzz), the One MESA team has found the value of working together, with revenue increasing from $26 million in 2002 to $56 million in 2012.
The key is “work really hard, work really hard, and don’t give up; hard work, team work, and a touch of innovation and luck” has led to MESA’s success, May said. Adding that the small business has had to reinvent itself several times.
The organizational principles of MESA must mirror those of senior leaders, May said. “We identify, talk, and model [the principles of integrity, fun, respect, and community]. This is the job of leaders– ensuring that this philosophy is clearly communicated and accepted throughout the organization. But acceptance isn’t good enough at the leadership level. Commitment is the better word,” he said. “We became very good at writing [Baldrige state and national] applications and hosting site visits, analyzing feedback, absorbing the OFIs [opportunities for improvement], and analyzing performance. As we learned the value of OFIs , the benefits of segmentation and benchmarking, and the meaning of systematic and ADLI [Baldrige Criteria evaluation factors: approach, deployment, learning, integration], we got better.”
MESA continues to expand on its primary advantage: its ability to outperform competitors with superior service and quality. “If you want to challenge that statement,” he said, “Don’t take our word for it. We just got our second Baldrige Award. Take that, competitors.”