Apr 7, 2009

Whose Job is Safety and Quality?

Anyone who has ever exercised in a neighborhood fitness club recognizes him. The meat head with arms and chest muscles bulging from his scissor-cut tank top, growling and grunting from machine to machine. But upper body muscles are the easiest to crank up for show, and indeed a quick glance at our meat head's rail-thin undeveloped (read: skinny) legs shows he's unwilling to do the harder work of creating a balanced weight lifting physique.

Or as they might say about him in Texas - "all hat and no cattle".

The same "go for show" mentality pervades the world of marketing, especially when it comes to managing product supply and distribution channel systems. Fears are growing that companies may be cutting big corners in their quest for uber-efficiency. They often get to wondrously low price points by pursuing long-distance suppliers with unbelievably low prices who provide the necessary performance enhancements that goose gross margins.

But just like the meat head at the gym, a big part of the process - trusted, quality-controlled and safe products - is overlooked. It's a game of chance that will increasingly catch up to shortcut takers in today's economy.

So it's with admiration that I read that Millipore, a mid-sized Biotech products company, has instead built a global quality control organization of over 350 employees. With expat salaries and other costs factored in, it's very possible they could be spending over $70 million a year on such activity. That's significant for their size; roughly 70% the size of their total R&D budget!

Why spend so much? the army of fresh-faced, hired efficiency consulting advisors might ask?

Millipore knows that trust is increasingly the new currency of global marketing.

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