U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday named Tri County Tech as one of five 2018 recipients of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Celebrating its 31st anniversary this year, the Baldrige Award is a Presidential-level honor, recognizing exemplary practices among American organizations and businesses including an unceasing drive for radical innovation, thoughtful leadership, and organizational improvement. This year’s Baldrige Award honorees have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving their performance in all facets of their organizations, and they have served as role models for others to follow.

“These awardees are inspiring in so many ways,” Ross said. “Each honoree strengthens our economy through its organizational excellence and positive impacts for its customers, students, patients, and employees. They exemplify the American spirit in action and are role models for success in business and commerce.”

Tri County Tech, one of 29 public technology centers in the Oklahoma Career and Technical Education System, serves the residents of three counties and has a vision of inspiring success through life-changing learning experiences. With a goal that no student should be denied an education due to inability to pay, TCT provides scholarships and funding for student expenses such as medication, gasoline, clothing, and food. TCT has sustained top 25% nationally rankings for student completion/retention and placement for eight fiscal years. The institution also increased graduate wages to well above the national average while growing its own revenues 16 percent since 2009--without federal funding and despite a sizable reduction in state funding.

Superintendent and CEO, Lindel Fields, said “Receiving the Baldrige Award is an amazing honor for our staff and students. We set a goal in 2009 to obtain the award knowing that our commitment to the process would provide world-class opportunities for the students we serve. Because of the Baldrige Excellence Framework and dedicated staff, I am proud to say we have achieved that goal.”

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) manages the Baldrige Award in cooperation with the private sector. An independent panel of judges reviewed the evaluations performed by the board of examiners and recommended this year’s Baldrige Award recipients from a field of 27 finalist applicants, each of whom had prequalified by winning a Baldrige-based performance excellence award at the state or regional level. Organizations using the Baldrige framework stand out for excelling in the rapidly-changing marketplace.

"I could not be prouder of Tri County Tech for receiving a presidential award of this caliber,” said Matt Pinnell, Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma-elect. “Their education and economic best practices have impacted thousands of lives and will be a valuable model for the future growth and success of our state.”

Tri County Tech’s forward-thinking focus, not only on customers but also their workforce has created a high-performing, grace-filled culture of excellence. TCT has been named to Fortune magazine’s top-50 best small/medium workplace in the nation for three straight years. Workforce climate results, especially for safety, benefits, and pay, have been consistently near or above the 95th percentile of the national Great Place To Work survey each year from FY14 to FY17. For example, rates of staff responding favorably to the phrases “we have special and unique benefits here” and “people are paid fairly here” have been in the 95th percentile of all participating national organizations.

“When companies implement the ground-tested Baldrige approach, they create organizations that employees and customers love, that continually improve, and that produce innovative and outstanding results,” Ross said.

Through their fearless pursuit of excellence and innovation, TCT generates revenue that is growing faster than total customers. Enrollments for core students have increased by 2 percent from FY15 to FY18, while total customers have grown by 29 percent over the same period. New education offerings have included leadership and other tailored training to local large businesses Phillips 66 and Siemens in Bartlesville, OK; and specialized training to the Osage Nation and The Pioneer Woman (celebrity chef Ree Drummond) in Pawhuska, OK. Also, TCT has partnered with the Boys and Girls Club in Nowata County, OK, to develop a new center to encourage the young to enjoy learning. With a world-class Net Promoter Score equal to that of Ritz-Carlton, TCT recently expanded their footprint to develop a Leadership Retreat Center with the purchase of 110 acres and existing resort in Northeast Oklahoma.

“Using the Baldrige Framework for Performance Excellence is not just about winning the award; it is about challenging ourselves to live up to our potential as an organization,” said Dr. Tammie Strobel, Deputy Superintendent and Chief Quality Officer. “As a state and locally supported public school, we have an obligation to our communities, our students, our parents, our workforce, and our stakeholders to achieve excellence throughout our organization. The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award has allowed us to do just that.”

The Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 and is not given for specific products or services. Since the first group was recognized in 1988, 123 awards have been presented to 115 organizations (including eight repeat winners). The Baldrige framework is reviewed and updated regularly to reflect best practices

in organizational leadership and performance across key organizational categories that drive the U.S.

economy and enhance our quality of life. The 2018 Baldrige Awards will be presented at an April 2019 ceremony during the Baldrige Program’s 31st annual Quest for Excellence® conference, held in Baltimore, MD.