Things just haven't been the same at Wallace Co. since December 13. That's the day the Houston-based industrial distributor became the second company to win the small-business category of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Since then Wallace has been fielding some 60 to 70 information requests a day from companies all over the country, according to Paul Vita, director of national accounts. "It's a little bit overwhelming," he admits.

It's also part of the deal. Winners of the Baldrige award agree to promote the prize and share information about their programs. For a 280-employee company, that can be tricky. Because Wallace doesn't have any public relations staff, it pays an outside organization to administer a "Wallace quality hotline" and $150 Wallace Visitors' Days. By mid-March close to 1,000 visitors reportedly had participated or signed up.

Are you ready to handle such fame? In addition to the Baldrige, there are other new quality awards, including a number of state prizes and, nationally, the Shingo Prize for manufacturers. For more information about the Baldrige or the Shingo, contact Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Office, A537 Administration Building, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD 20899; phone (301) 975-2036, fax (301) 948-3716; or Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing, c/o Office of Business Relations, College of Business, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-3521; phone (801) 750-2279 and (800) 472-9965, fax (801) 750-3440.

-- Martha E. Mangelsdorf