Standing Trade Council Subcommittees Address Key Precepts

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Pulte Minnesota's trade council has formed a number of subcommittees designed to tackle one-time initiatives implementing a recycling program at each job site and developing safety regulations, for example.

October 01, 2002
NHQ Silver

Home-Grown Quality

Measuring Improvement

Pulte Minnesota's trade council has formed a number of subcommittees designed to tackle one-time initiatives implementing a recycling program at each job site and developing safety regulations, for example.

Other subcommittees have become permanent. The formation of three permanent subcommittees on issues that correlate directly to two key quality precepts customer satisfaction and continual improvement was critical to the company's eventual implementation of a well-rounded quality program.

The first permanent subcommittee addresses standardized framing and millwork. "If we are building one plan in two parts of town, we wanted to be sure that we are building them the same way," says construction manager Marty Gergen, who represents the company at meetings along with warranty manager Jerry Zick. "You don't want to call for extra lumber because one carpenter is framing it different than another one."

The second permanent subcommittee focuses on specifications and service. This committee meets monthly to address the top 10 items that continually appear on the company's internal quality assurance checklist. A specialist who comes in after a house is cleaned but before the buyer's final walk-through completes the checklist on every home. The committee studies the data and looks for solutions to problems. In doing so, the council works directly with the trade contractor at the source of a given problem and asks what it can do to help the trade get off the list, says vice president of construction Gary Grant.

"If they see a certain area of our construction that needs to get better," says Grant, "our subcommittee will actually go out in the field and do the inspection and do the review and meet with that contractor that is having a particular issue. And that is really important. It is peers showing their shortcomings, not just Pulte."

Last came the permanent subcommittee on contractor certification. It was formed 1 1/2 years ago to develop a protocol for all vendors and suppliers that send people to do service work in customers' homes. And it extends to the people who answer the phone when homeowners call for service.

When the program is fully implemented later this year, individuals who come in contact with homeowners will be required to attend a half-day of initial training and three subsequent half-days of training.

"We want to make sure we have the correct person from their service department tuned in to what we are all about and knowing how to talk and function with our customers in their homes," Gergen says.

This training also has become a prerequisite for a trade partner to achieve "Pulte Preferred" status, which is based on a scoring system that ranks trades on their adherence to company goals. High-scoring trades get the opportunity to bid new communities before the rest of the pack.

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