This is a guest post provided by an MBA, who previously worked in a sales writing and analysis position for a defense contractor that successfully employed Lean Six Sigma.

Working in sales for a small, successful defense manufacturing business in the northeast is an anomaly. Manufacturing machinery just outside of NYC, is generally considered too expensive due to high land and human resource cost. However, the business I worked for not only held its own, it was growing.

This family-owned and operated business had started out with a single invention by a veteran in the ’40s. Over time, they needed to change their business methodology, in order to continue to stay in business. Lean Six Sigma is what got them there.

Military products are held to the strictest safety standards. The lives of our troops, and our citizens depend on them. Nothing drove this home for me, more than attending a conference sponsored by one of the top 3 defense companies in America. Their guest speaker was a veteran of the Gulf War.

He recounted long, boring days staying in a dusty, abandoned former-hotel in Iraq, with no electricity. One evening after work hours, the guys were playing cards on their balcony, when a bomb alarm sounded. What made it different than previous “fire drills,” was the next sound—that of a missile being fired. The troops dropped into defensive positions. Then, there was an eerie silence.

The guest speaker, a brawny guy who stood before me in fatigues, admitted he was justifiably scared. He crawled towards the window and, in the sky, saw what could only be a United States Patriot Missile had taken down the opposing missile. As he told us, there was one opportunity. Just one. Every single part in that missile had to be 100% functional. Quality was, in this case, the difference between life and death.

The point that he continued to speak about was that each task, no matter how seemingly insignificant it seemed within a company, combines to create a quality product.

It was no coincidence that I was asked to attend the conference. My company was a trusted provider of mission-critical components. They employed professional Lean Six Sigma expertise, in order to get to the next level, increase sales and improve quality. They couldn’t afford not to.

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