Quality rating saves jobs at Seaberg

Quality rating saves jobs at Seaberg

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ROCK ISLAND -- Workers at Seaberg Industries Inc. of Rock Island saved their jobs Wednesday by earning a quality standard their main customer required.

Without registration of the QS-9000, Seaberg may have lost Caterpillar Inc. as a customer, said George Seaberg, president and CEO. Small companies can't afford to lose customers, so the quality standard means jobs, he said.

The QS-9000 requires the company to meet an exacting quality standard and then have that standard documented by an independent auditor. Det Norske Veritas Certification Inc. of Houston, Texas, verified that Seaberg qualified for registration.

Caterpillar decided more than a year ago that its suppliers must be 100 percent QS-9000-qualified by the end of 2002, said William McCowan, purchasing director of global purchasing for Caterpillar Inc.'s engine division in Peoria. Many of its suppliers have completed the lengthy process but not all, he said.

Seaberg makes brackets for engine mounts and ladder assemblies for Caterpillar's engine division, Mr. Seaberg said.

Seaberg is the only QS-registered, certified firm of its size in the Quad-Cities, said John Glavey, Chicago regional sales manager for Det Norske.

Mr. Seaberg attributed the company's improved performance to employees' and management's hard work.

The quality program was ``an essential building block'' for Caterpillar's strategy, Mr. McCowan said. It ensures Caterpillar will receive quality parts on all of its new and re-designed products, he said.

``It ensures our own customers get a world-class product,'' he said.

Dan Hanback, Caterpillar purchasing director in North America, said the QS 9000 was an honor for Seaberg and its workers.

``You can put a quality system in place,'' he said to Seaberg's workers, ``but at the end of the day it's each of you who will make a difference.''

Two years ago, Seaberg had the worst delivery performance of all of Caterpillar's suppliers, Mr. Seaberg said. A year later, Seaberg had one of its highest ratings, he said. Seaberg's turnaround was one of the most significant Caterpillar's logistic manager ever had seen, he added.

QS-9000 requires companies to provide extensive documentation that it has developed numerous quality systems for continuous improvement, emphasizing defect prevention and reduced variation and waste in the supply chain.

Achieving the quality standard costs the company more money but cuts overall expenses in the long run by reducing the number of rejected parts, Mr. Seaberg explained.

Achieving the standard also means Seaburg's products meet the requirements of Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, truck manufacturers and other companies using both internal and external suppliers on parts and materials.

Seaberg also learned Wednesday it had been recertified as one of Caterpillar's certified suppliers, a distinction it has had for 18 years. Seaberg earned its ISO-9000 certification five years ago.

Founded in December 1973, Seaberg Industries makes transition components for Caterpillar, Deere and Co., CNH Global, Komatsu, Kone and Sears Manufacturing in the Quad-Cities area and other original equipment makers throughout the United States.

Staff writer Rita Pearson can be reached at 786-6441, Ext. 270, or by e-mail at Rita@qconline.com.

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