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Welcome to our ranking of perennial quality superstars. DIT-MCO International has been on our Leadership list for multiple years. Congratulations and keep up the good work.

Quality Leadership survey was conducted in fall 2023. As usual, companies were evaluated on a range of factors, including continuous improvement and quality programs; contribution of quality to profitability and shareholder value; average number of hours that employees receive quality training; scrap and rework as a percentage of sales; warranty costs as a percentage of sales; and registration to various standards such as ISO 9001.

Thank you to all those who completed this year’s survey.

#3 DIT-MCO International

Kansas City, MO

Andrew Zawisza is back on top for the chili cook-off. When we last spoke, he was planning on upping his game for the DIT-MCO International annual chili cook-off. And last year he pulled it off.

When asked if there was a secret to his recipe, Zawisza said there wasn’t exactly a secret, but he does grow his own tomatoes, jalapenos and chili peppers, then pickle the jalapenos and dehydrate the peppers to grind into chili powder. These extra steps makes the difference—the pickled jalapenos won it for him, he says—and represents the effort involved in making something of the highest quality.

Quality is a differentiator for DIT-MCO, which celebrates its 76th anniversary this year. The company makes aerospace testing equipment, as well as parts for the U.S. Department of Defense aircraft. The company is designing its next gen equipment to improve their ground support test equipment.

When I spoke to him in late 2023, he noted that the business was thriving.

“This year has gone really well,” he said, with the company up 20-25% up from the previous year. They also plan to hire more engineers and quality staff in 2024. 

Keeping quality issues low is always the goal. The quality department also implemented a new software system that integrates with ERP software. Instead of little siloes of information, now there is one database for all issues, he notes.

“It works with our ERP system, two-way system, data in and data out,” he says. “It makes it easier to collect and analyze quality issues that arise.”

The next step is to add additional modules to build on their momentum, he notes.

In terms of their 3D printer, they just ordered a fifth 3D printer to help the process work more smoothly.

Along with new equipment and software, the company’s success relies on employees who have been around a long time. Zawisza will have 35 years with the company this year, and in terms of seniority, “I’m not even in the top ten yet,” he says.

But more retirements are ahead, including people who have been with the company over 40 years. “We’re hiring and trying to replace the 30 to 40 years of experience we’re losing.”

“The next five years are going to look at lot different,” he says, both in terms of management and production. One employee in the metal shop has been with the company for 46 years.

Zawisza says he’s still has a few more years before retirement and enjoys coming to work and the people he works with.

He carpools with a colleague and shared his pickled peppers. The colleague recently returned an empty jar and Zawisza replaced it with a full one.

Who wouldn’t want to work somewhere where your colleagues bring you homegrown food? Retirement might not offer the same perks.

Look for the other top 5 companies here.