Committing to Quality

NPL established a long-range planning team in 1990 to chart the company’s course moving into the future. With a mission for industry leadership, the team faced a big decision: to narrow its geographic reach and expand its list of services, or to keep its focus on gas distribution and expand its geographic reach. The decision was made to grow geographically.

By the company’s 25th anniversary in 1992, NPL had expanded into nine operational areas with offices in Phoenix, Tucson, Illinois, Heartland (Kansas/Missouri), Wichita, Minnesota, Nebraska, Las Vegas and St. Louis. With further growth into new markets on the horizon, it was imperative that a commitment to quality continue to be NPL’s distinguishing trait.

Building on the ideas that the company had adopted in the mid-eighties (see last week’s post), NPL fine-tuned its definition of quality. Inspired by the father of the Total Quality Movement, W. Edwards Deming, it was agreed—”It’s our customer who defines quality, not us.” From there, defining quality was simple: conformance to customers’ requirements with zero defects, the first time, every time. A Quality Education Team was formed and trained to lead the company through the Total Quality Process, which was developed by renowned quality and management guru Phil Crosby. NPL’s Continuous Improvement Policy was drafted to send the clear message that “NPL will be known by the quality of our work.” Area-level Quality Improvement Teams were then established to add layers of accountability. Company-wide, a new tagline was adopted to capture the spirit of this movement: “NPL and Quality – The Pipeline to Success.” Today, NPL’s continued commitment to quality, coupled with safety, distinguishes the company as an industry leader.

NPL’s Quality Education Team in 1992. Back: Bob King, Lorne Kramer, Terry Culp, Mark Henderson, Alan Windham, Bryon Lopez, Noel Coon, Denny Zarn, Jeff Andersen. Front: Gene Cox, Bill Moore, Matt Godfrey, Randy Knutson, Jeff Leifheit, Mike Kemper, Todd Wallin.