Do you remember the days when the Quality Improvement Process was the key to all future success? Newspaper pages and industry journals screamed about the superior products coming from Japan because of something called just-in-time manufacturing, quality circles, total quality management. The advent of the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Awards and all its offshoots was the fodder for editorials and feature stories in Inc. magazine, The Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Businessweek, and even in Contracting Business.

Names like Edward Deming, Joseph Juran, and Malcolm Baldrige were bandied about as the saviors of the American manufacturing and business machine. Quality became the rage. It was THE buzzword for years. It changed how America went to work and it had a great impact on the HVAC Industry. Various manufacturers adopted the tenets behind the Baldridge award and created their own programs — from Honeywell’s Quality is Key to many company mantras that sang the tune of doing it right the first time.

In 1989, we published a cover story entitled, “Industry at a Crossroads” (CB, November 1989, pg. 33) where we discussed all the greatest challenges that were turning the HVAC industry on its ear. Former ACCA executive director Jim Norris was quoted in that story and summed up the state of the world very succinctly: “Quality is fast becoming the one-word definition for how to do business. If you ask what is the single-most importent change taking place in American industry, Quality is the one-word answer.”

Today, the Quality Improvement Process is simply the foundation of how manufacturing and inventory control are done. It’s in the background, quietly helping companies stay productive, remain competitive, and stay successful.

But in light of today’s need for the world to curb its energy appetite and to become more aware of how and where resources are consumed, the quality issue has been ressurected. Quietly. But in force through legislation and economics.

Today we’re selling and installing some of the most efficient comfort systems ever created into some of the best built structures in the world. And the need to save energy through programs like LEED and Energy Star, via tax rebates and utility incentives, has given rise to the ressurection of doing things right the first time, the concepts of performance-based system design, home energy rating, building science and technology, and the developement of quality installation practices.

At HVAC Comfortech 2007 in St Louis last month, our opening panel discussion, entitled, Energy Crises: The Comfort Equation, addressed the need for quality from five viewpoints. One of those, presented by Wes Davis from ACCA, covered the Quality Installation specification that that organization has been crafting and which recently received ANSI approval (ANSI/ACCA 5 QI-2007).

In fact, in this issue, you can read the core standard beginning on page 77 and you can download the complete standard document from the ACCA website (www.acca.org/tech). It only seems appropriate that 18 years after Jim Norris made his statement, the quality chorus is again being sung, with ACCA, among others, still running point.

Quality and comfort. These make up a new two-word mantra that will guide the HVAC industry for years to come. Isn’t it time for you to take up the chant?