SQA News | Fall 2023
Wins & Challenges
October marked an incredible year since joining SQA Services. I regularly reflect upon how blessed I am to be a part of this organization. We are a mighty team providing indispensable services to many of the most influential companies in the world. Earlier this year, we took time as a leadership team to precisely define our vision for SQA: “We protect through quality.” You will begin to see this mantra seep into our marketing materials and presentations. As we finalize our strategic business plan for 2024, our efforts are focused on enhancing our current and future abilities to deliver the highest quality services and protect our clients and their consumers.
2024 & Beyond
Q4 and MICCS Success
As we embark into Q4, we have just celebrated our most productive quarter in company history and, by serving more clients in more ways, we are on pace for 2023 to be our biggest year ever. We are excited to continue this trend into 2024 and beyond!
Q3 also saw the completion of one of our biggest technology infrastructure projects in recent history. Our widely popular tablet-based inspection app (MICCS) was completely rebuilt to enable enhanced rapid scalability. What started several years ago as a custom solution for a single client has now expanded across numerous clients and projects. As the user base grew, we encountered challenges managing multiple configurations of the software each time we implemented a change. Therefore, our Digital Services Team developed a new architecture that allows clients to deploy a customized solution in a fraction of the time. This is a big win for our company and opens the doors for some very interesting new ways to leverage this technology.
On a personal level, Q3 was also a very busy quarter for me, packed with travel to see as many clients as possible. With trips to Illinois, New York, Florida, Washington, Florida again, the Netherlands, and France, I was able to meet with some of our most critical current and future clients in the Pharmaceuticals, Cosmetics, Aerospace, and Automotive industries with key members of the SQA Team.
Continuing the theme of the last two newsletters, I wanted to highlight lessons I learned from previous roles that I plan on leveraging with SQA. This article focuses on my time at Rocket Lab.
The company initially attracted me with their business plan. The Electron rocket was developed to solve a very specific market need, filling a void left after the retirement of the SpaceX Falcon 1. One analogy used by the Rocket Lab sales team compares a city bus to Uber. We knew it was cheaper for our clients to launch their satellite on a competitor’s rideshare than a dedicated Electron launch. However, the rideshare was the equivalent of taking the city bus: you have to wait for the next available launch. If you’re late, the rocket does not wait for you. Your precious cargo gets loaded in with dozens of other payloads, and you get dropped off in the general vicinity of the orbit you wanted. The Electron, although slightly more expensive, is dedicated to you. Your payload is the only priority, and it takes you exactly where you want to go at the exact moment you are ready. At SQA, we embrace a similar mindset. There may be companies out there that perform quality audits or source inspections marginally cheaper than we do, but those companies often feel like hopping on a crowded city bus. You’re forced to follow a predefined route at a predefined schedule. Opportunity for collaboration and customization is limited. With SQA, we aim even higher than the Uber comparison. We aspire to be the client’s chauffeur service, understanding their needs and nuances of their schedules and priorities. We make sure they get exactly where they are trying to go, following their preferred route, in style and comfort.
“Against All Odds”
Another trait I admire about Rocket Lab is that they punch above their weight class. During my time there, we only had about 500 employees, most of whom were based out of New Zealand. It’s hard to fathom a leading space launch company founded on a small island with essentially zero aerospace industry. The New Zealand government didn’t even have its own space agency until 2016, ten years after Rocket Lab was founded. This “against all odds” origin story formed the culture of the company, embracing the idea that significant innovation would be consistently required to have a chance of competing on a global level. Geographic factors aside, SQA shares some of this “against all odds” philosophy. Some of our competitors are large, established organizations. According to some metrics, there’s no reason a small, family-owned company out of Palos Verdes, CA should be able to compete with them. However, through our continued excellence and relentless innovation, we do. We’ve been able to build partnerships with numerous Fortune 100 companies and industry leaders, much to our competitors’ dismay.
Our Dedicated Team
The final attribute I’d like to highlight is perhaps the timeliest. On September 19, Rocket Lab suffered an anomaly during its ninth launch of the year. For those outside the launch industry, “anomaly” is a nice term we like to use when the mission fails. When you’re already an underdog, blows like these can be very difficult to recover from. However, it’s not the first time Rocket Lab has experienced an unfortunate setback, and the team knows they can regroup, improve, and get back on track. Perseverance in the face of adversity is not optional. It is essential. SQA has dealt with its fair share of setbacks. The most recent major challenge was the fight for survival in a global pandemic. This was exceptionally difficult for a business that relies on deploying people onsite at manufacturing locations around the world. Through it all, the team focused on our clients’ needs on-site, and adapted to the changing environment. Though we hope our next challenge is less formidable than a global pandemic, we know we have a battle-hardened team that will persevere when others give up.
Questions And Feedback
It has been an absolute pleasure meeting many of our clients, employees, and associates over the past year. If we have not had the opportunity to get to know each other, I strongly encourage you to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can schedule some time to meet. As always, I would love feedback on the types of information that you all would like to hear about every quarter. Please be open and honest with your thoughts, and I’ll see what we can do to ensure this is something you all look forward to receiving several times a year.
Onward & Upward,
President / CEO
Out & About with Team SQA
Commencing with immense gratitude, we extend a special thank you to SQA Advisor Jeff Luckey for his recent visit to our headquarters. Jeff, who retired from The Boeing Company in January 2017 after three decades of dedicated service, shared his wealth of knowledge on the future trajectory of the Aviation Industry. Currently at the helm of JGI Consulting LLC., Jeff continues to contribute his expertise, assisting industry associates in navigating and positioning their businesses for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. We deeply appreciate and feel honored to have Jeff as a valued advisor on the SQA team.
SQA Services’ month-long philanthropic journey with the Foodbank of Southern California was a tremendous success! Thanks to your generous support, we raised over $2000 and collected canned goods to aid the mission of providing healthy, nutritious food to the community’s hungry residents and to ensure that no individual goes hungry, not even for a single day. On Friday, October 20th, SQA assembled a dedicated team to travel to the mobile pantry location in Long Beach and assisted in the distribution of donated items and fresh produce grown in The Foodbank of Southern California’s community gardens and urban farms. Let’s continue to spread kindness and make an impact! #SQAcares
In the dynamic landscape of 2023, SQA embarked on a journey of knowledge and collaboration, participating in a series of conferences that proved instrumental in our growth. These gatherings served as vibrant platforms for the exchange of ideas, experiences, and industry insights. Engaging with diverse perspectives at each conference enriched our understanding of quality practices and innovation. It was a year where we not only shared our expertise and services, but also absorbed valuable lessons from fellow professionals across various sectors. The collective wisdom gained from these conferences has undoubtedly fueled our commitment to excellence and positioned us at the forefront of cutting-edge quality solutions. As we reflect on the events of the past year, we look forward to applying these learnings in shaping a future marked by continuous improvement and advancement.
Introducing the SQA 2024 Quality Calendar – your exclusive gateway to a year filled with industry insights and celebrations! Curated by SQA Services, Inc., this calendar is more than just dates. Immerse yourself in a world of quality excellence as we highlight the achievements and progress of the industries and companies we proudly serve. From groundbreaking innovations to significant milestones, stay informed and inspired throughout the year. Explore the SQA Quality Calendar for a curated journey through the landscapes of success, as we celebrate the achievements that shape our shared future.
Finally, SQA ended the year with our annual Supplier Excellence Committee Meeting! During the recent SEC gathering, we successfully brought together talented individuals united by a shared passion for quality. The event provided a platform for the exchange of experiences, principles, and ideas, contributing to the advancement of both SQA and its community.
As we reflected on the challenges and opportunities of 2023, active participation and engagement from our SQA advisors played a pivotal role. Contributors shared their valuable experiences and insights with quality leaders from diverse industries, fostering a cross-pollination of perspectives. Additionally, discussions explored innovative approaches to address quality challenges, identify applicable tools from various industries, and encourage out-of-the-box thinking for continuous quality improvement. This collaborative experience has undoubtedly enriched our collective knowledge and propelled us toward further excellence in the realm of quality.
Meet SQA Sr. Project Coordinator, Joy Callejo
Joy Callejo graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor’s in International Relations, and minors in Public Health and French. She started off her career in healthcare, amid the pandemic, working in quality improvement programs. Joy has been working with SQA since January 2022 with various Critical Manufacturing programs such as Blue Origin, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, L3 Harris, and now SpaceX and Google. She firmly believes in protecting through quality, but also showing kindness to all those that she works with. During her spare time, she likes to play video games and play sports (tennis, basketball, ultimate frisbee—you name it!)
Meet SQA Associate Dwayne Elkins
Dwayne Elkins had always been around manufacturing. His Grandpa and many aunts and uncles were machinists or QC inspectors in different manufacturing sectors and he was introduced to their roles in various ways over the years. After graduating from Cal Poly SLO in 2000 with an Industrial Technology degree with a focus on packaging development, he started his career as a cold calling salesman of packaging equipment. This was not what the plan was. Like so many of us in quality, he did not go and seek his first quality role, rather, if found him. A phone call was received with the question, “can you do technical writing?” Mr. Elkins always had a passion for writing and had even one some minor local awards for some fiction stories, so he figured let’s put the two together (technical understanding and the ability to write), and see what happens. Next thing you know, a quality manager quits, and he found himself Quality Manager of a high volume Tier II automotive manufacturer related to airbag production. From there he studied different quality standards, ended up in different regulatory roles in various industries (Aerospace, Medical Device, Pharma), and now services clients by designing, consulting, and auditing for various quality standards. Mr. Elkins career and personal travel have taken him to 49 states, 18 countries, and 5 continents.
Mr. Elkins resides in Southern California with his family and enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife and son, enjoys collecting and selling sneakers, and loves to go see a good live Rock ‘n’ Roll show. 🤘🏻🤘🏻
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