An Interview with simpleQuE CEO – Jim Lee
This month’s simpleQuE spotlight is on CEO Jim Lee. Jim was an owner of ACLASS Corporation that performs laboratory accreditations to ISO/IEC 17025, which was sold to ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) in September 2007. He was also President/COO for EAGLE Registrations, which provides third party certifications to ISO 9001, IATF 16949, AS9100, ISO 14001, etc. Jim is an ASQ CMQ/OE and CQA, an IRCA certified QMS lead auditor, a former IATF certified IATF 16949 auditor, and a former RABQSA certified Aerospace Auditor. He’s also worked for Emerson, GM, Huffy Corporation, and Systems Research Laboratories. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Ohio University.
1. Thinking back over your career, what is the professional accomplishment you are most proud of achieving and why?
I am most proud of being an entrepreneur and risking everything I had to make a successful business. With my first business (ACLASS), I was a minority owner and had very seasoned business partners who made all the decisions, including the sale of that business to ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB). I watched and learned. That experience, along with running Eagle Registrations helped me prepare to start simpleQuE.
When I started simpleQuE I had the backing of my wife and family. We significantly downsized (home, cars and expenses) and took a risk by using our capital to start the business and ultimately create jobs. I am proud to have made it through those tough times. I am proud to be able to create high paying jobs for talented people who share in my passion and want to contribute to our success. I am proud to be able to put my capital at risk every day to create jobs for America.
2. Client satisfaction is pinnacle to your background. What are your client-focused approaches to simpleQuE?
This is the basis of who we are and is exhibited in our core values. We even screen our employees and contractors to exhibit the same values, and weed out those that can’t uphold these values. In our last staff meeting, I asked each employee to give an example of something they did in the last month that exhibited one of our core values. These aren’t just words for us.
SimpleQuE’s Core Values
- Focus on satisfying the customer
- Strive for simplicity, efficiency and sustained value
- Eliminate waste and activities not contributing to the customer’s objectives
- No standard solutions for our customer’s unique cultures
- Excel in service and commitments
- Assure honesty, openness and respect in all relationships
To be able to exhibit these values we look for the following attributes in our staff: attention to detail, timeliness, urgency, open-mindedness, and strong problem solving skills.
3. What advice would you give to a new college graduate entering the technology industry?
Work hard, find your passion and find a way to be great at it. When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. Do the best work you’re capable of doing and stand out from the rest. I like what Mike Rowe, from Dirty Jobs, says: “Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it. And just because you’re determined to improve doesn’t mean that you will.” Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean that it will make you successful. There are many other factors, but the most significant is being great at what you do.
4. Explain how simpleQuE is different from their competition.
90 percent of our competitors are one-person shops. We are a medium-sized consulting company that focuses on the industries and standards where we excel: aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, service, environmental and labs. Being medium-sized allows us to be able to quickly begin new projects when customers want to get started, not when we can open up our schedule to fit them in. We won a $250,000 contract because we were able to get a certified auditor at a client site in 4 days after being contacted to perform a gap assessment, which kicked off a full consulting project that utilized 5 simpleQuE resources.
5. Where do you see simpleQuE in the next five years?
We doubled in sales the last two years and see another doubling the next 2 years. Five years from now we see more simpleQuE offices across the US. We’ll get there with a diverse workforce that we can leverage for better results. I don’t have all the answers and have to rely on a team of experts to take simpleQuE to even higher levels of service and performance.
6. How would other people describe you in three words?
Dependable, hard-working, and knowledgeable.
7. As the leader of simpleQuE, what do you see for the future of your business?
SimpleQuE was never intended to be a small company, thus the name and value behind the company name. SimpleQuE stands for “Quality Excellence Made Simple”. We’re not “Jim Lee Inc.” or “JAL ISO” or “JL Quality Excellence” because it’s not about Jim Lee. It’s about simplifying quality systems using experts in the ISO, automotive and aerospace industries.
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