East Londoner, Francois Walters,recently beat 200 000 other employees to be recognised for his focus on quality at the East London Mercedes-Benz car plant
A dedicated employee of thirty years standing, Francois Walters, production manager at the Mercedes-Benz South Africa plant, has been named Daimler’s Laureate of Quality Excellence 2011 in the production category. As one of only three recipients for this award amongst over 200 000 employees worldwide, this is an exceptional achievement for South Africa.
The Daimler global Quality Excellence Award, instituted this year, is made in only three categories namely, sales and marketing; production; and after-sales. It aims to specifically recognise those employees who are not employed in quality management, but who contributed greatly to improving quality in their areas of operations. “It is intended to boost employees’ motivation for quality and to cherish their special commitment,” says Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG.
The award is limited to employees up to a middle management level only, thus excluding senior and executive management. Nominations were submitted by peers or colleagues working in quality management processes, while judging was done by a jury of executive employees working in quality management.
Francois Walters joined MBSA thirty years ago as a blue-collar worker on the production line and successively worked his way to his current position as shop-floor manager level in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class production line, which includes stations from mechanical fitment through to final finish stages.
Dr Zetsche in handing over the award read the following citation: “Based on his experience in production during the past three decades Francois Walters holds an all-embracing quality ethos. Day-to-day he checks quality standards; follows up personally on corrective measures; and courageously interferes wherever quality is affected. It is to employees like him that MBSA and Daimler owes the achievement of the 2010 J.D. Power and Associates Platinum Award. Amongst his colleagues Francois Walters is regarded an ‘icon of quality’.”
A special certificate and trophy were handed over to Francois Walters and two other recipients at a prize-giving ceremony in Germany on 30 May 2011.
“I felt honoured to receive this award, and humbled to be rewarded for coming to work every day and just trying to achieve the best that I possibly can,” says Walters. “It really is a combined effort as teamwork is critical to quality standards and we depend heavily on each other’s strengths. It is important that everyone has the same mindset regarding quality, and that our targets are clear to everyone who has any input into the production process. Our processes are benchmark, and it is vital that each employee ensures that they work strictly according to set standards, day in, day out,” says Walters.
“It is important to realise that there is a strong competitive spirit amongst manufacturing plants around the world, and we have to work even harder to stay ahead of the pack. To create a positive future, we have to renew our focus on quality daily, and ensure that we are building vehicles for customers that we ourselves are convinced are the best in the world.”