Quality for the Long Haul at Gerber

Article

Hagen, Mark R.   (2000, ASQ)   ASQ, Milwaukee, WI

Quality Progress    Vol. 33    No. 2
QICID: 13775    February 2000    pp. 28-33
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Article Abstract

For the Gerber Products Co., quality has been a major part of the company's history of trust, commitment, and goodness. Even as early as the original efforts of Daniel and Dorothy Gerber in the 1920s, attention was paid to manufacturing processes and to the ingredients in the company's baby food. One of the most important quality elements at Gerber has been teamwork, which began with experiments in the 1970s. Once established, team efforts soon expanded into cross functional and diversity designs. Gerber's teamwork environment allowed it to integrate quality functions throughout the organization. For example, front-line operators have been deeply involved in establishing procedures for each of their processes. These operators also have learned about quality tools and have come to value techniques like charting and statistical process control. Customer feedback is another vital aspect of quality at Gerber. Facilitated by an instance of consumer tampering in the 1980s, Gerber has listened more attentively to the voice of the customer. For example, 71 members of its staff handle 2,400 customer telephone calls a day, and other employees write responses to the 45,000 letters it annually receives. Gerber also has been a leader in the introduction of HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control point) programming, including pesticide control and refusal of genetically modified ingredients. This article includes a sidebar on Gerber's sensory evaluation department and its infant research facilities.

Keywords

Employee involvement (EI), Voice of the customer (VOC), Teams, Research and development (R&D), Quality tools, History, Hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP), Case study, Food safety


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