Current and former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton honored the performance excellence of Baldrige Award-winning organizations at the Baldrige Program's 25th anniversary gala celebration and subsequent 2012 award ceremony, early highlights of the Quest for Excellence® Conference that began on April 7 in Baltimore.
"I'm so pleased to help honor this year's prestigious [Malcolm] Baldrige National Quality Award winners—four organizations that are relentless in their pursuit of a better, brighter future," said President Obama in his videotaped remarks at the award ceremony Monday morning.
"I've always said that our free market is the greatest engine of prosperity the world has ever known," said the President. "And that engine is powered by our dreamers, our risk takers, and our innovators."
The President then recognized the role-model work of those four organizations:
"These honorees exhibit the kind of job-creating innovation that's always kept our economy growing and vibrant and prosperous," said the President. "So congratulations to this year's award recipients and thanks to all of you for recognizing and promoting excellence and innovation."
In a separate videotaped message presented at the gala on Sunday, former President Clinton said, "I'm glad to join you in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Malcolm Baldrige [National] Quality Award and to recognize this year's honorees."
"Since 1987 the Baldrige Award has helped invigorate our nation's economy by advancing competitiveness and ensuring quality of performance in all sectors all across our country."
In congratulating the four 2012 Baldrige Award winners, President Clinton said, "All of you represent the best of our industries and challenge us to build a stronger, more thriving economy."
Former President George H.W. Bush and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum also sent congratulatory letters, along with other organizations in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Baldrige Program and Award.
In the 25 years since the Baldrige Program was created by Congress, it has helped countless manufacturing and other organizations improve and excel through use of the Criteria for Performance Excellence framework; the program also administers the annual Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the only Presidential award program recognizing U.S. organizations for performance excellence.
"The Baldrige Program owes its success to the contributions of literally thousands of people and organizations," said Baldrige Program Director Harry Hertz at the gala. He then thanked the program's founding director Curt Reimann, the Department of Commerce and NIST, ASQ, the Baldrige-based state and local programs that constitute the Alliance for Performance Excellence, international program partners, all of those who have served on the program's Panel of Judges, Board of Overseers, and Board of Examiners; and program staff. Hertz also expressed "a very big thank you to the Baldrige Award recipients for their dedication to performance excellence and willingness to share their best practices beyond what anyone would have ever anticipated 25 years ago."