september 1989

How do you get employees to care as much about quality as you do? That's a problem Harry Seifert, CEO of Winter Gardens Salad Co., in New Oxford, Pa., thinks he's close to solving. "I'm trying to get employees to throw the rotten potatoes away, not the potato salad," Seifert says, explaining the system he installed in January.

If an employee sees a mistake, such as a bad potato about to go into a salad, he or she sounds the "Matterhorn" -- a horn to blow when something's the matter. Everyone gathers around, including the supervisor, and the employee is congratu-lated for the catch.

The system works, Seifert says, because "employees know we are always looking to improve the system, not to find fault with a person." Horns go off about five times a week, calling attention both to specific slipups, in the hope that they won't be repeated, and to the company's ongoing concern with quality.