Huntsman Alumni Magazine

Fall 2008

Shingo Prize earns high-level recognition in Costa Rica.

A company in Costa Rica was so proud to receive an award from Utah State University, it invited the president of Costa Rica to an event celebrating the accomplishment. And he came.

Not only did President Oscar Arias Sánchez come to the event in early May 2008, where the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence was presented to Baxter International, but he brought one of the country's two vice presidents, Laura Chinchilla, with him.

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez accepts the Shingo Prize on behalf of Baxter International

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez accepts the Shingo Prize on behalf of Baxter International to honor Baxter's accomplishments.  Bob Miller, Executive Director of the Shingo Prize, presented the award.

Bob Miller is the executive director of the Shingo Prize, which is part of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. He said Arias wanted to personally congratulate the company for earning the award. Baxter International established a plant in Costa Rica 20 years ago. It is the first facility outside of North America to earn the Shingo Prize, which has been dubbed the "Nobel Prize of Manufacturing," Miller said.

Arias received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his role in working with Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua to find peaceful solutions to conflicts in Central America at the time.

Miller said the company invited him down to an event celebrating the company's achievement.

"They were so excited about what they had done and the fact that we were coming down to meet with them they started inviting all of their local, regional and government officials, and then they started inviting their national legislators," he said. "The next thing I knew they had invited the president and vice president of Costa Rica, who both came."

Arias was elected and served a four-year term 20 years ago and was reelected in 2006 after a change in the constitution allowed him to run for a second term. Arias praised Baxter International for winning the award from the Huntsman School of Business.

"This company has recently received the highest international recognition for excellence in its operations," he said. "It is an award won with enthusiasm and dedication, but overall, with great capacity of innovation and teamwork.”

The Shingo Prize is an organization that promotes a philosophy called "lean," helping companies become more competitive by emphasizing the importance of respecting the individual, eliminating waste, improving quality and controlling costs. Shigeo Shingo, an industrial engineer in Japan, originally articulated the philosophy that has been key to Toyota's success.