By John S. McClenahen In a Washington, D.C. ceremony expected to be held early next year, San Antonio-based Clarke American Checks Inc. will formally receive the 2001 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in manufacturing. The company produces personalized checks, checkbooks, and financial forms and provides 24/7 call-center support to its financial services partners and customers. Among Clarke American's quality and performance achievements cited by the Baldrige judges was the creation of a business culture based on "First in Service" principles. Company revenue, both in actual dollars and percentage growth, has increased during the last five years, and Clarke American is the only major financial services check provider to gain market share during the last four years, says the National Institute of Standards & Technology, the U.S. Commerce Department agency that administers the Baldrige program. Clarke American also was cited for outperforming IndustryWeek's World-Class Plants average for inventory turns and for matching IndustryWeek's Best Plants average for reduction of internal errors. Pal's Sudden Service, a fast-service restaurant chain in Tennessee and Virginia, is the 2001 winner in the Baldrige's small-business category. Two school districts -- the Chugach School District in Anchorage, Alaska, and Pearl River School District in Pearl River, New York -- plus the University of Wisconsin-Stout are the first winners ever in Baldrige's education category. There were no winners for 2001 in the award's service or health-care categories. The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award was created by Congress in 1987 to help enhance the competitiveness of U.S. business and is named for the 26th U.S. Secretary of Commerce.