Quality Controlled Manufacturing Inc.: Investing in Education

Quality Controlled Manufacturing Inc. (QCMI) sets itself apart from the competition by offering clients a reliable source of precision machining services tempered by a wholehearted commitment to Lean manufacturing principles. The specialized nature of QCMI’s work requires components be manufactured by a highly skilled and educated workforce. However, as industries evolve QCMI employees must also evolve and reassess the machining process to become more efficient and competitive in the market place.

Likewise, QCMI forges long-lasting bonds with each of the company’s clients by investing in the success of each project. The team also makes it a priority to keep the lines of communication open to ensure changes in supply chain forecasts are always accommodated.

“Most of the products we manufacture simply can’t be produced in a lower cost market because of the precision, talent and technology required,” asserts Rick Urban, COO at QCMI. “The difference with QCMI, though, is that we specialize in Lean manufacturing so that our clients can be competitive in the marketplace.”

William R. (Bob) Grande founded QCMI in 1978 in San Diego County, Calif. Almost 35 years later Grande is still active in the management of QCMI. Grande invested in and renovated a 65,000-square foot facility in Santee, Calif., in 2008. QCMI’s high-end manufacturing facility also servers as the company’s corporate headquarters. Additionally, QCMI is complimented by a 27,000-square foot storage facility in Lakeside, Calif., and a 6,000-square foot research-and-development facility in El Cajon, Calif., only adding to the team’s long list of accomplishments.

The team at QCMI works with clients in highly specialized industries where precision is synonymous with quality, including aerospace, oil and gas, defense, marine, power generation and heavy equipment industries. The company works with all metals and exotic alloys, providing the gamut of CNC machining services, turning, milling, welding, fabrication, inspection and electronic discharge machining (EDM), including engineering and research and development services as well. As a result, clients look to QCMI to produce components with exacting tolerances and complex shapes. QCMI can also arrange for components to be supplied in next higher assemblies, cutting down on manufacturing lead times and ensuring a precise end result.

Thinking Ahead

As proof of its precision machining prowess, the company has been certified under both ISO9001 and ASP9100 standards since 2003. The dual certification ensures clients around the world of QCMI’s quality management systems. QCMI also became the only complex machining manufacturer in the continental United States to achieve Gold certification with the supplier program of United Technologies Corporation (UTC) for four years in a row. The UTC program sets rigorous standards for quality, delivery, customer satisfaction and Lean practices as a way of accelerating performance improvements. Not only did QCMI achieve certification four years in a row, but the company also reported zero customer returns throughout 2010.

The company also specializes in integrated, collaborative supply chain management. QCMI puts its Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing principles to the test by working hand-in-hand with clients to coordinate logistics with vendors and material suppliers. This ensures QCMI keeps up with the client’s forecasted demand, building in safeguards and redundancies wherever possible to ensure consistent availability of components. “We break down the client’s forecast all the way down to our own management of raw material supply and lead times to produce a forecast with a little less noise,” adds Urban. “That way, if a client needs something on short notice, we’ll have it on our shelves.” The move not only signals the company’s vitality in the wake of the economic downturn, but also underscores the growing need for qualified and trained machinists in the industry.

QCMI celebrated a number of major milestones in 2012, including national recognition as one of Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5,000 companies. San Diego Business Journal also ranked QCMI as one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies. In addition, Grande achieved a Most Admired CEO award from San Diego Business Journal and went on to receive the Santee Chamber of Commerce Business Leadership Award.

A New Era of Machining Talent

To that end, QCMI also launched a non-profit organization in 2012 to oversee a proprietary machining academy. “We don’t want to just teach machining,” explains Grande. “We want to teach quality, Lean principles and Six Sigma methods so that we can help prepare the next generation of machinists to be competitive in today’s global manufacturing industry.” QCMI plans to make the training sessions available to both QCMI employees and outside professionals. The company established ties with some of the local colleges and the San Diego-based National Veterans Transition Services Inc. (NVTSI), a veteran’s support organization.

NVTSI runs the REBOOT Workshop to help veterans obtain and maintain employment with a three-week educational program to help veterans make a cultural shift to life after service. Part of the workshop focuses on key professional skills, like resume writing and interview techniques. QCMI regularly participates in local employment fairs, including those oriented toward veterans. This allows extending the new machining training courses to NVTSI and REBOOT participants to come naturally. “We’re really excited about the program, because we believe it will help San Diego make the most of our veterans' talents,” adds Urban.

By investing in the future skills of not just QCMI employees, but also in the local labor pool, the company positions itself to find further growth in the next few years. In fact, QCMI managed to weather the storm of 2009 and 2010 to turn 2011 and 2012 into two of its biggest years. Activity could level off in 2013, but by supporting its employees with continued education programs and a lean manufacturing philosophy, Quality Controlled Manufacturing Inc. works to ensure Southern California leads the industry in precision manufacturing.