Steve Baynham has been named Vice President, Engineering and Quality at Husky Corporation. Steve has been the Quality Manager for Husky Corporation since 2014, where he utilized Six Sigma concepts to reduce component variation, cut costs, eliminate waste, and focus on ISO and ATEX internal and external compliance audits. He recently designed and helped create a comprehensive ‘warranty/product return/customer issue’ reporting and tracking system.
In this new position, Steve will have management responsibility for the Quality, Design Engineering, and Manufacturing Engineering teams.
Steve Baynham was named Vice President, Engineering and Quality at Husky Corporation in 2022. Prior to that he was the Quality Manager for Husky Corporation since 2014, where he utilized Six Sigma concepts to reduce component variation, cut costs, eliminate waste, and focus on ISO and ATEX internal and external compliance audits. He recently designed and helped create a comprehensive ‘warranty/product return/customer issue’ reporting and tracking system. In this new position, Steve will have management responsibility for the Quality, Design Engineering, and Manufacturing Engineering teams. Steve is eager to make sure a culture of quality flourishes across the organization for years to come.
What will be the focus of your new role at Vice President of Engineering and Quality?
My background is in continuous improvement; utilizing statistical analysis to put controls in place based on factual information to minimize variation. None of that’s going to change. The difference is we’ll be applying it to all aspects of the production process.
Typically, quality control has focused on the product. That’s true of nearly every company out there. We already have a culture in place that focuses on quality products through monitoring raw materials, vendors, and processes. And the team is aware that variations in any of those areas affect the end product. With this new structure, we can expand our focus beyond product quality control and design engineering into the manufacturing side of things. We hope to pull those three teams together, so they are all in sync with one another.
And it will give other people the opportunity to gain experience and learn. In this new role, I can apply my knowledge base from the quality management side, help newcomers learn it, and keep that cultural change going so it continues well into the future.
How has the quality focus improved Husky products?
Quality problems often show up when it comes to warranty returns. So, the first thing was to identify the variations that went into the products, whether it was our own processes or incoming materials. We had to understand all the little stuff that went into assembly, identify the variations, and knock them down. We did that, but it took 3 to 4 years.
Then we turned to warranty levels. For example, in 2014 we had close to $1.3 million in warranty returns. This year, we’re projected to reduce that to $360,000. The bulk of that improvement is due to the elimination and understanding of the variation in our own processes.
What drove you into a career in quality?
I graduated from University of Missouri Rolla (I still call it UMR) which is now called Missouri S & T, with a degree in ceramic engineering. But I quickly learned that if I wanted to get a job I’d have to go to the east coast or west coast because no one was hiring for that profession in this area.
So, I decided to go back to school and earned my master’s degree in material science at Washington University in St. Louis. I was lucky enough that after my first semester of paying for it, which was expensive, they had an opening for a fellowship in the material science group on a project working on insitu composite solders for a government program. The main focus was developing materials that can withstand the stresses and temperature variations in fighter jets (so that when they take off the electric boards don’t fail when they get to 30,000 feet, or at extremely cold temperatures).
After that, I worked for Watlow Electric on their design and manufacturing team from 1994 to 2000. I later moved to O’Brien Corporation, which was involved in manufacturing products for the semiconductor market. At O’Brien I was able to utilize my metallurgy and material science training. Then in 2005 I was laid off due to the downturn in the semiconductor market. After a few odd jobs, I went to work for Baldor Electric in late 2005 where I really learned the nuts and bolts of quality control and continuous improvement. I received my Six Sigma Black Belt certification through them before coming to Husky in 2014.
What is your personal family background?
I was born in Nuremberg, Germany. West Germany at the time. My dad is a retired Major in the Army. We lived in a variety of places. I spent my early childhood in South Korea. We moved to St. Louis in 1977 or ‘78, and I’ve been here ever since.
My wife went to Washington University in St. Louis. and studied occupational therapy. We were married in 1994. We have three boys. All are out of the house, but not quite off the payroll yet.
What do you like to do for fun?
Now it’s all changed. With kids, it was going to baseball, swimming, lacrosse, all that stuff. Now that they’ve all moved on, I really enjoy traveling with my wife and seeing the world with her. On the lighter side of things, I brew beer with a couple of buddies on the side each year. It’s always fun to do. I do a lot of working out: hitting the trails, running, biking. In the summertime, my wife and I get the kayak out and like to hit the local rivers. So really, we’re just enjoying life right now, without kids in the house.
What made you decide to invest the last 8 years, and likely more, at Husky?
From day one, I felt valued. The family, the people, just gave me a sense of value. The team that I work with, they are amazing. They all want work to be enjoyable. And they all want to do better for Husky. Everybody in the quality group, and I’m still learning more about the others who now report to me, all have a sense of value here. They feel dedicated to help the family because the family cares If you asked my wife the same question without me in the and room, she would say the same thing.
I’ve worked for the big companies. And I’m not saying that big companies are bad. But it’s just a different feeling here. You feel at home. It feels like home.