Milwaukee-based ASQ, also known as the American Society for Quality, is grounded in a mission to promote quality assurance across industries worldwide.
According to the nonprofit organization, which markets itself as “the Global Voice of Quality,” it is the largest quality organization in the world, with 74,000 members in 140 countries. The organization, comprised of 205 employees, has national service centers in Mexico, China and India and has a regional service center in Dubai to serve markets in the Middle East and North Africa.
The organization, which is focused on continuing its global growth, is also part of a “World Partners” program, through which it collaborates with 20 international organizations that have similar quality-minded goals.
Through ASQ’s dedication to quality assurance in companies and communities, the organization offers a suite of tools for quality professionals, such as certifications. ASQ offers 17 certifications that touch a range of sectors and quality levels, including biomedical auditor, calibration technician, manager of quality/organizational excellence, quality auditor, quality engineer, and Six Sigma designations.
The certifications, available for both ASQ members and non-members, act as “formal recognition by ASQ that an individual has demonstrated a proficiency within, and comprehension of, a specific body of knowledge,” according to the nonprofit.
ASQ also works with volunteer groups that create and sign off on international and American National Standards, including well-known standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 26000 and ISO 4001.
ISO standards, written and published by the International Organization for Standardization, set requirements, guidelines or specifications for particular processes and services in particular industries. For example, ISO 9001 focuses on quality management systems, ISO 26000 refers to social responsibility, and ISO 14001 is designated for environmental management.
ASQ also facilitates training in standards and provides training for auditing of standards.
Allen Rothman, quality assurance representative for Chicago-based Ryerson Inc., describes ASQ as the “frontrunner” in providing training and support for standards such as ISO.
As a quality professional at Ryerson, Rothman helps the metal distributor maintain its quality management system and audits its processes and procedures.
“Ryerson supplies materials to manufacturing companies throughout the world, and it is essential that (it has) quality professionals employed at (its) various locations to understand and provide the documentation and quality conforming products to its customers as required for competition in a world marketplace,” Rothman said.
Additionally, Rothman serves as the past chairman and the current arrangements chairman of the Milwaukee section of ASQ. Structurally, ASQ is divided into more than 250 geographic sections and is divided topically by more than 25 forums and divisions.
Rothman has been a member of ASQ for almost 30 years, previously representing other companies he worked for, such as Walter USA LLC and QuadTech, Inc.
Along with leading training on specific standards, ASQ administers training on quality topics, such as cost of quality, he said. That particular training helps companies analyze where they have waste in their processes and ways they can boost their profitability.
Other ASQ offerings include opportunities for virtual and in-person networking among members and quality professionals, as well as world conferences and events.
In 2016, ASQ plans to host its World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Milwaukee. The annual conference draws more than 2,500 attendees.
Beyond certifying, training and convening, ASQ conducts research that adds to what it calls its “Quality Body of Knowledge.” Most recently, the organization partnered with Forbes Insights, the research and thought leadership practice of Forbes Media, on a study exploring how a quality-driven culture can bolster business performance.
On the whole, the organization is an essential one “to further the quality profession and provide materials and training where needed,” Rothman said.