Lots of awards get handed out in the auto industry, but rarely do they come from the president of the United States.

Dana Corp.'s Spicer Driveshaft Div. still is feeling the glow from the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for manufacturing, which President George W. Bush handed over at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Malcolm Baldrige was commerce secretary in the Reagan and Bush administrations from 1981 until 1987, when he was killed in a rodeo accident. A former chairman of Scovill Mfg. Co., he was a longtime proponent of quality management, which he visualized as the key to U.S. competitiveness. In 1987, Congress established the award in his name.

Spicer becomes only the second automotive concern to win in manufacturing; General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac Motor Div. won in 1990.

Spicer Driveshaft Vice President and General Manager Joseph Sober says his division's “journey” to winning the award began nine years ago when Dana set up its own internal Quality Leadership Process (QLP) based on Baldrige principles. “Our ultimate goal was to use QLP as a tool for continuous improvement,” he says. “Quality to us is what our customers say it is.”

Mr. Sober says customer complaints about defective parts per million have been cut in half since 1995 — from seven to just over three and close to the industry's very best. The division makes 6 million driveshafts at 17 facilities.