Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Mohawk Industries: "Move Forward with Consistent Persistence"

Mohawk Industries (Torrington, CT) is a manufacturer of carpet pad. With 40 employees, they take scrap foam from manufacturers of pillows, mattresses etc., grind it, mold it and cut it into the pad you see every day where carpet is being installed. My friend Gordon Richard is the Plant Manager at the Torrington (CT) facility, which has been awarded the “Most Improved Plant” two years in a row in areas of Safety, Quality and Productivity. I asked Gordon exactly how he and his team pulled THAT off?!? 

He explained that when he started there in the Fall of 2015, the plant was running, but not very effectively. Operators were very hard working but didn't have a sense of mission....they simply came in and went home day after day.

"After meeting everyone and getting acclimated to the technology, I began thinking of my LEAN background and looking for a starting point to change the thinking." Gordon realized he had plenty of SMEs (Subject Matter Experts!). Of course they didn’t know they were experts, and he wanted to make sure they felt like experts and started to develop basic operating metrics, essentially a base to grow from.

"I talked about the 8 wastes and where we might find them in our processes. Almost immediately the ideas started flowing! I used the A3 process and my own form to organize our thinking, and focused a lot on point of use inventory and tool storage. That was followed with some significant safety and quality ideas that we quickly implemented and celebrated… lots of recognition and pizza!

As company metrics started to show improvement, the Torrington facility became a hot topic at corporate as our quality and flexibility to our customers was better than anyone had experienced from this facility (this facility has been making pad since 1998).

“In the past, our sales team had bad experiences with poor quality, poor communication and botched deliveries from this facility. Our new attitude towards improvement was very welcome and resulted in 15 sales managers coming here to see the facility and get a sense of our lean thinking and vision for the future. They went away with a renewed confidence and our sales numbers have grown month over month for over a year. The sales team now loves us!”

Gordon says looking for opportunities to remove waste, improve safety and get more done with less effort has been contagious and frankly a lot of fun. “When corporate asked about our key to success the answer was simply, Go to Gemba, be honest, be transparent, recognize positive energy and celebrate.

My motto here is “Move Forward with Consistent Persistence”. 

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