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La-Z-Boy Not So Lazy

Furniture maker La-Z-Boy’s General Manager Tommy Casey spelled out the tough marketing challenge to his employees at a company-wide celebration at the Lincolnton plant last week. It was a time to thank employees for achieving a milestone industry standard, known as an ISO rating. But Casey portrayed that achievement as one step forward of many more that must be made. Like many other furniture makers in North Carolina and across the nation, La-Z-Boy is fighting a global war of survival as the market is flooded with cheap labor imports. Casey called for an “attitude of excellence” in which workers produce the best product possible. Today’s consumer demands superior quality, fast delivery and value for their money, Casey said. “They have lots of choices and we need to give them good reason to choose La-Z-Boy,” he said. Casey’s observation is simple, but profound. If you are going to compete globally, offer the superior product. In fact, that may be the only way to survive. La-Z-Boy took a big step in quality production by seeking and achieving the difficult ISO rating. To achieve quality you must work at it by understanding the necessary processes – the work you do everyday – and continually improving them. Standardizing work into an organized and documented system provides the foundation for a comprehensive quality management program. The ISO 9001 standards La-Z-Boy achieved helped them build that foundation. ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization. This is an international agency consisting of almost 100 member countries. Each country, no matter the size, has one “equal” vote. The United States is a member body and the American National Standards Institute (ANAI) is the U.S. representative. ISO works to promote the development of standards, testing, and certification to encourage the trade of quality products and services. Like many other manufacturers, La-Z-Boy is struggling in a playing field that is not always level. It’s the same struggle that has devastated the textile industry. But Casey’s call for an “attitude of excellence” and his company’s pursuit of top international standards of operation provide a recipe for success. We hope La-Z-Boy prospers with this philosophy.