By Jim Cory. Last fall, Mike Cordonnier of Remodeling Designs in Dayton, Ohio, contacted the engineering department at University of Dayton with a proposal. How about using his company as a case study?

As it happened, the department was offering an industrial engineering course in quality management. The senior-level course required students to make a detailed study of a company to determine whether its practices were consistent with its mission statement. Remodeling Designs was selected.

"We thought the case study might be a good exercise to see where we're at," Cordonnier explains.

For six weeks, six groups of three students interviewed company owners and project managers. They also examined the company's balance sheets. The students then prepared a written report, laying out their findings. The class gave Cordonnier's company 96 out of a possible 120 points.

While there were "no big surprises," the report faulted Remodeling Designs for a lack of strategic planning. It also took issue with the way the company was carrying out its mission statement. "We found out that the mission statement we have and the one we live by are a little disjointed," Cordonnier says. "Our unwritten mission statement is that we do whatever it takes to make the client happy. They felt we sometimes sacrifice profit to do that, more than we should."

Cordonnier suggests companies that want to be guinea pigs contact universities that teach quality management courses and volunteer their organizations as subjects for case studies. As for the report, Cordonnier says, "I'm just starting to digest it and come up with a game plan to improve."