Improving Performance: Barrington firm answers to a higher authority

I’ve spent years studying and practicing methodologies like TQM, JIT, Process Reengineering, Six Sigma, Baldrige Criteria, Lean Operations and other performance improvement tools. Now, I think I’ve found one I’ve known about for years that may be more effective than all of these put together!

I recently had occasion to meet Marian Noronha, founder and CEO of Turbocam International in Barrington, at a MarketPlace Connection meeting. He was the featured speaker.

Noronha unabashedly explained, “Turbocam exists as a business for the purpose of honoring God, creating wealth for its employees, and supporting Christian service to God and people.”

Wow – I’ve seen a lot of mission statements, but never one like that. And it’s everywhere – on the first page of their sales brochure, prominently displayed in their lobby and on their web site.

Noronha meets personally with all new hires and explains the company’s mission. New hires do not necessarily have to be churchgoers, but they have to be willing to support the mission. Although this has discouraged some, Noronha feels it helps him attract better people. And yes, they feel like they’re on a special mission, which certainly helps performance.

Furthermore, Noronha actually runs the company using Christian faith-based principles. For instance, working on Sundays is strongly discouraged. He’s not so overbearing that he would force people, but he does refuse to pay for work done on Sundays.

Interestingly, Turbocam’s facility in Barrington is what is often called a “lights out” factory. It runs 24/7, and it can run without people, as long as the machines are properly set up. So Sundays can be as productive as any other day, but without anyone in the building.

Innovate with grace

Noronha grew up in India. In 1962, he witnessed the U.S. Air Force delivering supplies to help his people ravaged by the Sino-Indian War. At 8, he decided he wanted to become part of such a generous country, and he also felt he had a debt to repay. He eventually immigrated here in 1979. Shortly after, he converted to Christianity.

Noronha founded Turbocam in 1985 to provide good jobs for people who needed them. The company specializes in five-axis machining, producing components for industrial, aerospace, automotive and defense industries. It currently has 350 employees, 220 of whom are based in New Hampshire. It also has a presence in Canada, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Taiwan, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Romania.

Turbocam’s motto is, “innovate with grace,” but it means so much more than just elegant or classy engineering. The firm makes some very complicated parts, and Noronha freely admits that there were many times when he didn’t know how to make something. After praying, just the right solution would often appear in his mind. “Grace” is also another word for special help from above.

I realize many companies would balk at Noronha’s approach. When we look at the current state of our economy, it’s fashionable to blame it all on corruption in Washington and greed on Wall Street. Unfortunately, the greed and corruption exist in many organizations, regardless of their proximity to D.C. or New York.

Above Noronha’s desk is a picture of our founding fathers with a quote from Benjamin Franklin: “I’ve lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing Proofs I see of this Truth — That God governs in the Affairs of Men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that except the Lord build the House they labor in vain who build it.”

I have to wonder if that is true, not just of empires, but of companies and other organizations as well. It just might be a lot easier and safer. Who knows? It could even be good for business in an economy like this.

Ronald J. Bourque is a consultant and speaker from Windham. He has had engagements throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He can be reached at 603-898-1871; fax 603-894-6539; bourq@att.net; www.bourqueai.com.