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Musgrove handing out awards March 21 at Excellence in Mississippi Conference.

Hollywood Casino takes top honor in quality awards

Tunica County’s Hollywood Casino takes its place this month among an elite group — companies that have earned the top honor in the Mississippi Quality Awards.

Only eight other organizations have achieved the highest level, the Governor’s Award, since the Mississippi Quality Awards was started back in 1995. Hollywood Casino was the only company to win the Governor’s Award in 2002.

Since 1999, Hollywood Casino has risen through the levels that make up the Quality Awards — winning the Quality Commitment Award in 1999 and the Excellence Award in 2000. Bob Moister, vice president of organizational development for the casino, said Hollywood earned the Governor’s Award thanks to cast members who “do things right the first time and put the needs and wants of all our guests in the forefront of every decision made.”

Hollywood Casino opened in 1994 in Tunica County with a vision of becoming a place where guests feel invited and welcome, said Moister.

Quality Awards program director Duane Hamill said Hollywood Casino is one example of the many Mississippi companies who have used the program and criteria to position themselves to achieve greater levels of performance excellence. Like Hollywood Casino, many companies have risen through the ranks of the program, such as Hol-Mac Corp. in Bay Springs and Baptist Memorial Hospital DeSoto in Southaven, both Governor’s Award recipients.

The Quality Awards, known as Baby Baldridges, are mirrored after the prestigious Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Awards. Businesses are judged on seven criteria: leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, market focus, human resources focus, process management and results.

The awards are broken down into four progressive steps: Quality Alignment, Quality Commitment, the Excellence Award and the Governor’s Award, the highest level given to businesses who are outstanding examples of quality management.

The Quality Interest level was changed in 2002 to Quality Alignment to better reflect the companies’ purpose, which is aligning their systems and processes to better serve their customers.

The four levels act as a guideline to companies or institutions working to improve their performance to better serve their customers, said Hamill.

“It’s our hope that these companies use the program as part of their continuing improvement, and that they use the levels as stepping stones in their journey to becoming world-class companies,” he said.

A newcomer to the program in 2002 was The Calvert Company, a Richland-based manufacturer of bus duct for power plants and other power generation customers. The 120-employee company tried for the Quality Commitment Award and succeeded. General manager Bob Milliet said participating in the program made his team take a hard look at whether the company’s goals for the year were consistent with its quality.

“That’s what quality does, it makes you more efficient, more profitable, and a better company in view of your customers because they get error-free materials,” said Milliet.

The Calvert Company plans to participate again this year to try for a higher level.

The Quality Awards program is open to organizations of all sizes that wish to use the criteria and program as a strategy for improvement. People typically associate the Quality Awards with business and industry, but it is also an excellent tool for schools, said Hamill. The program is administered by the Mississippi State Board for Community and Junior Colleges.

The Mississippi Quality Awards will be handed out on March 21 at the 18th Excellence in Mississippi Conference at the Hilton Hotel in Jackson. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is scheduled to give out the Mississippi Quality Awards and the Governor’s Achievement Awards during the conference luncheon.

Luncheon attendees will also get to see the award-winning Sundancer Solar Car, which was built by students of the Houston Vocational School of Houston High School. The Houston Solar Race Team, whose Sundancer has won the Winston Solar Challenge for the second straight year, will tell their story during the luncheon.

For conference information, call Hamill at (601) 432-6349 or Bill Sowell at (601) 992-0146 or see the Excellence in Mississippi Web site, www.exinms.org.

Contact MBJ Staff Writer Kelly Russell Ingebretsen at kelly@msbusiness.com.

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