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Elevations Credit Union recently won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, making the institution the first to win the award twice in the nonprofit category.

The award is named after late Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige, a proponent of quality management in the Reagan administration, and recognizes American groups for organizational performance excellence.

The Baldrige framework, a set of leadership and management best practices, “has allowed us to create a high-performance culture that provides amazing services and creates raving fans,” Elevations CEO Gerry Agnes said.

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology based in Boulder manages the Baldrige Award, which was established by Congress in 1987, in cooperation with the private sector. An independent board of examiners evaluated 20 2020 applicants in seven areas: leadership; strategy; customers; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce; operations; and results.

Past Colorado winners of the award include the city of Fort Collins, Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Monfort College of Business at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and CH2M Hill Inc. of Denver.

The other 2020 Baldrige Award winners were:

  • MESA Cathodic Protection & Control Solution
  • Wellstar Paulding Hospital
  • GBMC HealthCare System
  • AARP

“I congratulate these five U.S. organizations for committing themselves to performance standards that have demonstrable and independently verified positive effects on the American business community,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a NIST blog post. “Applying the Baldrige Criteria yields practical value to an organization in cost savings, customer satisfaction and financial gain while also producing higher revenue, growth and efficiency for improved competitiveness and performance.”

Ross called Agnes directly to inform him of the credit union’s victory.

“It’s so exciting,” he said. “To hear the Secretary of Commerce’s voice on the phone telling you that your organization is a two-time Baldrige recipient — boy, what a thrill. … It’s an extraordinary conversation that will forever be ingrained in my mind.”

Elevations and the other 2020 Baldrige Award winners and past year awardees will showcase their best practices during the 32nd Quest for Excellence conference, which will be held virtually April 12-15, 2021, according to NIST.

“Elevations Credit Union won a Baldrige Award in 2014 and is the first two-time winner in the nonprofit category. An assessment by the American Credit Union Mortgage Association ranked Elevations as No. 11 out of the top 300 credit unions in the nation, outpacing both its asset size, which ranks No. 127 out of 300, and its ability to lend only in Colorado versus other lenders that cross state lines,” NIST said of Elevations. “In spring 2020, Elevations ranked in the top 95% of U.S. organizations for overall employee engagement based on the Gallup Q12 survey.”

Agnes credited the entire Elevations team with helping achieve the Baldrige victory, saying, “Embarking on a journey of excellence through the Baldrige framework and to enjoy success in doing that can only be accomplished by having an entire organization embrace that endeavor. This is not about a single leader, a department. It requires the board of directors and the entire staff of an organization to be on board.”

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