A quarter century of quality:
PQ Systems turns 25
Twenty five years old is ancient for a goldfish, but a Galapagos turtle at 25 is just a kid, beginning a journey that could take it a hundred years or more. PQ Systems, turning 25 this year, is somewhere in between: we celebrate our anniversary with the exuberance of a 25-year-old, tempered by wisdom derived from years of experience developing software and helping customers improve.
Incorporated in the neonatal days of computer technology, when companies still had mainframes and teenagers were getting comfortable with Apple desktop computers, PQ Systems’ mission grew out of a belief that data analysis can support improvement of products and processes, and an awareness that desktop computing represented the future.
PQ Systems was founded by current president Michael J. Cleary, Ph.D., a professor of business statistics at Wright State University in Dayton. Believing that statistics should be accessible to everyone, Cleary looked for ways to grab the interest of undergraduate and MBA students at the university as well as consulting customers of PQ Associates, Inc. With the help of his 15-year-old son Sean, the first SQCpack was developed on an Apple II computer to introduce simple statistical concepts and overcome both fear and boredom in understanding statistics.
As the PC quickly began to replace or supplement mainframe computing, the SQCpack migrated to the PC platform, enhanced by the input of customers and continuous testing of features. In the process, PQ Systems developed a reputation for efficient and friendly technical support and software that is easy to use right out of the box. By listening to customers, the company developed products that often anticipated users’ needs.
“In 25 years, we’ve seen quality improvement initiatives move from the factory floor to the classroom to the hospital lab, and since we’ve prided ourselves on being responsive to customers for a quarter of a century, we’ve been able to move along with them by developing innovative software technology, new web-based training programs, and efficient, expert technical support,” says Cleary. “We’re grateful to customers who have been with us throughout our history, and to the newest quality professionals who have joined our growing customer list.”
Among highlights of the company’s growth since those early days are the development of the “Transformation of American Industry” national training project in quality management, funded by grants from industry and state government. Later renamed as Total Quality Transformation, it reached customers in every industry.
Customer stories highlighted in PQ‘s monthly newsletter included:
- Copeland Corporation, using Quality Workbench to manage documents in its critical business systems, moving to a nearly-paperless system as a result;
- Metropolitan Sewer District, using CHARTrunner software to analyze data related to biomass balance in the sewer system;
- College Corner Union School, which used Data Folder Training to track performance and improve achievement among primary and intermediate students.
- Los Alamos National Laboratory, where GAGEpack helped keep track of more than 2,000 gages and other devices involved in advanced technologies initiatives;
- Middletown Regional Hospital, using SQCpack to collect data, was able to reduce time in restraints for patients who require them for their own safety;
- LTV Copperweld, where Quality Workbench improved compliance procedures as well as overall quality of its products;
- Ceramtec, where a team saved the company $40,000 annually in quality cost reductions after going through Total Quality Transformation training through Piedmont Technical College;
- Murphy Brown, where CHARTrunner helped monitor feed manufacturing processes for this largest producer and processor of pork in the world,
- Cleveland Clinic Health System, which saved time and improved analysis of data related to length of stay, case mix index, mortality rates and other metrics using CHARTrunner;
- Wapakoneta Middle School, where Data Folder Training improved behavior among students.
Customer successes have been the lifeblood of PQ Systems’ own success, of course, as well as the heart of product improvement initiatives. Listening to customers through technical support and sales staff as well as in direct site visits, has provided a wealth of ideas for added features or changes in software and training products.
The company expanded its reach to both England and Australia in 1987-88 to meet the demand for quality software, consulting, and training in the EU and Pacific Rim countries. Training and consulting services expanded, and the legendary technical support team was providing customer service with live calls and immediate callbacks—a tradition that has been maintained to the present.
Since the early years, bright-eyed college interns have joined wizened veterans in the coffee room, markets have expanded from manufacturing to healthcare and education. Following the lead of the software industry of which PQ is a part, maintenance plans have enhanced customer service and regular upgrades are downloaded automatically, rather than being shipped from the production department.
David Bowie may wail about Ch-ch-changes, and we all know the cliché that time can change us, but we can’t change time.
But when we look back through the childhood, adolescence, and adulthood that have ensued for PQ Systems, we find that there’s not much that we’d change in that time. Stay tuned for the next 25 years—but don’t watch for either a goldfish or a turtle.
2009 PQ Systems.
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