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YOU MIGHT CALL Jim Valukas a radical.
That's if you accept the definition of a radical as someone who thinks or does things differently than the status quo. In that sense, he's radical.
Valukas, you see, runs a coatings and coatings-dispersion manufacturing business in a way that clearly shows he's marching to the beat of a different drummer. The business, Accurate Coatings & Dispersions, Inc., located in the Chicago suburb of South Holland, Ill., operates on the basis of such radical ideas as:
* Hiring production employees with little or no paint manufacturing background.
* Following a statistical process control philosophy that includes sending SPC charts to customers on a quarterly basis.
* Having supervisory personnel work side-by-side with production workers, performing the same types of duties.
Then, there's the not-so-radical things the company does. At least, they don't sound radical on paper. But in the current cut-those-costs-any-way-you-can climate of American manufacturing, a company that actually does such things might seem odd. To wit, Accurate:
* Pays for 100 percent of employee health insurance.
* Pays bonuses to employees when the company sets a monthly sales record.
* Pays substantial year-end bonuses to all employees, based on the company's profits that year.
But Valukas would probably dismiss the notion that he's radical in any way. He'd simply tell you he's running a company based on a rather old-fashioned idea that quality and service count the most, and the way to provide quality and service is to design and follow a strict quality-control system based as much on highly skilled, motivated employees as on state-of-the-art computers and equipment.
This radical - or old-fashioned - company, depending on your point of view, sprang on the scene in 1986, after Valukas left another paint manufacturing company in a split with a partner.
"All of a sudden I was faced with the question, |What am I going to do?' Well, I had enough experience in the industry and I had built somewhat of a reputation, so I got …