Two weeks until SMA Quality Awards!

Second Vice President of the St Lucia Manufacturers Association Alison Plummer.

The excitement has already begun to mount for the first ever SMA Quality Awards that will come to life on Saturday, March 3 at the Sandals Halcyon Resort from 7pm. The St Lucia Manufacturers Association is presenting the event, which comes with much anticipation, in an effort to “drive excellence and quality improvement in the manufacturing sector, and create a platform for development and enhancement of export readiness of its members.”
The deadline for submission of applications from companies who wished to be part of proceedings was in October 2011 and according to Alison Plummer, second vice-president of the grouping, the SMA saw an overwhelming response from more than 60 percent of their membership. As part of requirements participants were audited during the period November to January by an independent certified Quality Management Systems’ auditor under five categories including leadership, standards and best practices, product and customer service quality, human resource development and social responsibility (company relations with the environment, employees and the community).
“It’s the first Quality Awards Program being run in St Lucia,” Plummer told the STAR. “The reports from the auditors were reviewed by a team of judges under the guidance of regional consultant Dr Winston Harvey from Barbados.”
The objective of the awards program is to help companies reach world class standards and the team of judges includes the director of the Office of Private Sector Relations, (who also happens to be in charge of the trade and export promotion agency, which was responsible for implementing the national export strategy), director of the St Lucia Bureau of Standards, Omar Davis, a financial consultant and a senior manager of ECFH Global Investments.
“The awards is being used as a developmental tool,” Plummer elaborated. “Companies received a copy of the auditing report and were given a tool kit with detailed guidelines of what is required for good leadership. It is not a competition, but rather companies will be recognized once they get a minimum score of 75 percent under each category.”
There are three levels in each category for judging: the gold level, platinum and the diamond achievement.
“The platinum level is higher than the gold because as the levels increase it demonstrates a greater maturity in company processes. This is not a product quality award. We’re looking at performance excellence and companies will be recognized for organizational processes. By the time a company gets to the third level, the diamond level, that company would have to demonstrate that they are measuring their performance to determine how effective their processes, and that they are using those results to make decisions in the board room and to continuously improve. Companies at that level of classification would almost be classified as learning companies because they are constantly evolving and making decisions based on measurements. A great deal of companies in St Lucia may fall short.”
The judging criteria is linked to categories of Leadership, Implementation of Standards and Best Practices, Product and Customer Service Quality, Marketing Strategies, Human Resource Development and Social Responsibility. Awards include the Minister’s Award for Innovation and the Presidents Award.
“We’re pleased at the willingness of the number of companies who came out to participate just to learn from the process,” Plummer commented. “We normally hear that companies are not open to volunteer that sort of information or have people in to audit but now in the face of competition companies are realizing there is no other option than to go through this route. ECFH funded the entire auditing process and for that they deserve to be commended. We’ve received lots of support all around, even from the government.”
The main focus of the Quality Awards is development and the program is based on a rigorous third party assessment of companies against internationally recognized standards developed in conjunction with the St Lucia Bureau of Standards.
“We felt it necessary to recognize the good work of the companies and in a scientific and objective manner recognize them for performance. We have a variety of levels of development in our membership; small and large manufacturers, some of which have been around for over 40 years. Over the years we have found that it’s not easy to tap into what these companies are doing locally, but now with the program we’re hoping to facilitate that sharing of information so we can identify what one company is really good at; human resource development for example, then we can see if another company is better at another experience so companies can benefit from each others experiences.”
The Quality Awards evening, which forms part of the calendar of activities for the celebration of St Lucia’s 33rd year of Independence, will portray a national theme highlighting local products, fashion and services.
Baron Foods is the Platinum sponsor while gold sponsors include Duboulay’s Bottling, St Lucia Distillers, Lucelec, SLASPA, CFL, ECFH, Digicel and Windward and Leeward Brewery.   Contributing sponsors include Bay Gardens,
SLDB and Harris Paints.

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