WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez together with President George W. Bush on Nov. 25 announced that Cargill Corn Milling North America is a recipient of the 2008 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
Cargill Corn Milling was the only manufacturing company among the three recipients this year. The award is the nation’s highest presidential honor for organizational innovation and performance excellence.
The honor marks the first time a milling company has received the Baldrige award but is the third such award for Cargill. The company’s egg processing business, formerly known as Sunny Fresh and now known as Cargill Kitchen Solutions, was honored with a Baldrige award in 1999 and 2005.
The only other grain-based foods company to receive the Baldrige award was The Bama Companies, Tulsa, Okla., in 2004.
"More than 2,400 employees across 9 plants, 11 distribution terminals and various other locations played a role in earning this award," said Alan Willits, president of Cargill Corn Milling. "No doubt the Baldrige evaluators found hard working, creative and innovative people everywhere they looked across our business. We are proud, honored and extremely excited to be given this prestigious distinction."
Applicants for the award, and there were 85 this year, were evaluated by an independent board of examiners in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; customer and market focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; process management; and business results. The evaluation process for Cargill Corn Milling included site visits by examiners to nine locations, the company said.
Cargill Corn Milling operates seven corn wet milling and two dry milling facilities. The company’s product lines fall into three broad categories — food, feed and industrial.
Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance the competitiveness and performance of U.S. businesses. Originally, three types of organizations were eligible: manufacturers, service companies and small businesses. Congress expanded the program in 1999 to include education and health care organizations, and again in 2007 to include nonprofit organizations (including charities, trade and professional associations, and government agencies). The two companies other than Cargill honored this year fell into the health care and educational categories.
According to the Commerce Department, awards based on the Baldrige model have been adopted by more than 40 states and 45 countries worldwide.