Innovation and resourcefulness are two of the driving factors behind QMF Steel, a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses alumni, being named “Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year” by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Sherrill Lester, president of QMF Steel, accepted the award from the SBA at a ceremony in Washington D.C. during National Small Business Week for a project with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Federal Prison Industries in El Reno, Oklahoma. Along with her acceptance of the award, small business administrator Linda McMahon is scheduled to tour the QMF manufacturing plant on May 4.
QMF Steel, a $6.5 million woman-owned manufacturing business with 28 employees in rural Campbell, Texas, supplies, manufactures, and fabricates metal products from concept to completion.
THE PROBLEM AT HAND
The small business win was for government contract work to develop a superior, environmentally-friendly rust remover and product preserver where QMF Steel identified specification process challenges that were causing both QMF and the customer issues inside their plants.
“We worked really hard, and it took us a while to figure this out,” Lester said. “The whole team, including the customer, was involved in figuring out a better way to solve this problem.”
HOW QMF SOLVED THE PROBLEM
QMF Steel solved the issues by changing the process and buying a piece of equipment that eliminated waste, handling, and extra steps making the product less costly all because of one specification.
“The government specification called out for a certain process,” Lester said. “We changed that process to be more environmentally friendly, easier to handle, and ultimately save the agency money.”
Lester and her team are very proud of the work they’ve done for the Department of Justice which makes winning this award all the sweeter.
As a leader, Sherrill Lester is inspired by a quote by Simon Sinek: “Because the work we are doing now is better than the work we were doing six months ago. And the work we will be doing six months from now will be better than the work we are doing today.”
As a seasoned leader, Lester challenges her team every day, because she believes in a quote by Simon Sinek:
“Because the work we are doing now is better than the work we were doing six months ago. And the work we will be doing six months from now will be better than the work we are doing today,” Sinek said.
ABOUT QMF STEEL
With 23 plus years of aluminum, stainless, and steel experience, as well as the expertise to manufacture and fabricate from start to finish, QMF Steel has a competitive edge and is uniquely positioned for high growth.
Why? Because there are not a lot of companies that can deliver what they do.
They meet the diverse goals of their clients using diverse capabilities within the business by delivering beginning-to-end metal product services.
During the past two years, Lester has been focused on doing a better job of marketing those capabilities to existing and potential clients as part of the five-year growth plan that she developed while going through Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program in Spring 2015.
QMF AND GOLDMAN SACHS 10,000 SMALL BUSINESSES
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is a business education program for small businesses that links learning to action. 10,000 Small Businesses is a $20 million investment funded by Goldman Sachs and the Goldman Sachs Foundation to help North Texas entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunities by providing greater access to education, capital, and business support services.
As a part the company’s $25 million growth plan, Lester has been intentional in building relationships and growing certain business sectors, one at a time. She secured relationships in transportation, government, and commercial construction.
“A small business owner who wants to grow has to leave [the] desk, stop email, get out in front of people, and figure out what they want,” she said. “Trust me, listening to them and figuring out what they want will help you sell to them.”
In many ways having a growth plan accelerated some of the things that Lester intended to do, but what it really did was help everyone on the team understand where the company was going and buy into that plan.
“The most important thing is that we saw profit growth,” Lester said. “It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep that is important.”
Two years into implementing her plan Lester said, “The growth has been great. It hasn’t shown up in the revenue completely yet. But that again is part of the plan because we don’t want to grow too fast. “
“We have seen revenue growth, not to the degree that we wanted to, but the most important thing is that we saw profit growth,” Lester said. “It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep that is important. “
As Lester and her team began to work the plan, they realized areas where they as a company could be more productive and effective, that has allowed them to cut out a lot of waste and end up with more on the bottom line, much like with the Department of Justice project.
Some of QMF’s North Texas projects include: eight bridges and 4,000 feet of custom panels made from powder coated aluminum for the LBJ Express project; custom steel bus shelters for Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Union Station to Oak Cliff Dallas Streetcar TIGER Project; and pedestrian rails on parts of the Horseshoe highway project, most notably the Margaret McDermott signature bridge.
QMF Photo Gallery
Click the image below for a behind-the-scenes look at QMF’s North Texas projects.
Updated May 5, 2017
Delivering what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth innovation, every day. Get the Dallas Innovates e-newsletter.