Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said he is proud to congratulate local restaurant company K&N Management for being recognized with a 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

K&N Management is one of seven organizations announced earlier today by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke as a recipient of the nation’s highest presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement, and visionary leadership. The company, founded in Austinin 1993, is the owner of the Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q Austin franchises and creator of Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries and Shakes.

“It is an honor to salute K&N Management on this achievement,” Mayor Leffingwell says. “Not only is this a compliment for the organization and its nearly 500 employees here in Austin, but as the first Austin-based organization to earn a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, this recognition is a great honor for the City as well.”

K&N Management, one of three recipients for the small business category this year, is only the second restaurant company to be recognized with the prestigious national honor.

“The Baldrige Award is a tremendous validation of how K&N Management compares to other companies across the country,” Ken Schiller, co-owner of K&N Management, says. “This recognition establishes us as a role-model business, but it would not have been possible without our team members’ commitment to guaranteeing that every guest is not only pleased, but delighted.”

The Baldrige Award is named for Malcolm Baldrige, who served as Secretary of Commerce from 1981 to 1987 and whose managerial excellence contributed to long-term improvement in efficiency and effectiveness of government. It is managed by the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology in conjunction with the private sector. The program rigorously evaluates the recipients in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; process management; and results.

“We began the Baldrige process nine years ago as part of our commitment to excellence, and improved as a company and business by using the organization’s framework and assessment tools,” Schiller says.

K&N Management and the other six 2010 Baldrige recipients, which were reviewed by an independent board of examiners as part of a process that included nearly 1,000 hours of evaluation and an on-site visit, are expected to be presented with their awards in a ceremony with President Obama at the White House next year.

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