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Success Stories

The Woodcraft Story

John Gledhill, VP of Continuous Improvement
John Gledhill, VP of Continuous Improvement at Woodcraft, speaks about his team’s implementation of Lean principles to achieve significant productivity improvements over a six-month time period.

QUESTION:
Can you summarize the recent history of the Woodcraft / Quanex relationship?

ANSWER:
Yes, in November 2015 Quanex acquired Woodcraft as an operating investor. As Vice President of Continuous Improvement, my job was to figure out how to add value to the business and make more money through continuous improvement across 13 plants in the USA, Canada, and Mexico — with the St. Cloud, Minnesota, plant being the flagship. More specifically, we focused on the custom business — Kitchen-At- A-Time (or KAAT) which delivers just-in-time mixed model sets of doors for home kitchens.

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THE ATW STORY

TRACY MACNEAL, COO
This document summarizes an interview with Tracy McNeal, COO of ATW, and her team’s implementation of the right Lean tools to improve from 30% to over 90% on-time delivery.
QUESTION:

What were the circumstances that led to your Six Sigma deployment?

ANSWER:

We had recently acquired an East Coast plant to go with our West Coast operation, but the business plan was not a great business plan. We had fallen to 30% on-time delivery and everything was late.  The technical support was not really there, nor was the leadership or the skills – the team was smart, but the lean knowledge really was not there.

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ALLIED SIGNAL

The Allied Signal Story

Fred Poses, President and COO
This document summarizes an interview of Fred Poses by SBTI trying to understand why the Allied Signal Six Sigma deployment was so successful.
Question:

Can you summarize the key factors that contributed to the results you accomplished with your Six Sigma program?

Answer:

Five major themes to success of the Six Sigma program that drove 6% YOY productivity:

  1. Leadership Matters: If the senior leadership doesn’t believe this is the way to build a better company throughout the company this won’t work.
  2. Expectations Matter: If leadership and the teams don’t have high expectations of the outcomes then the outcomes won’t matter.
  3. The Right Projects Matter: Projects should be selected on the basis they make a meaningful difference to the performance of the company.
  4. The Right Teams: Complex challenges require cross functional (AKA cross silo) teams.
  5. Recognition Matters: When teams do great things they should be recognized and encouraged to continue to use the same things that drove that performance to other areas. I use recognition and not reward. The difference between small money and big money. Reward is meaningful money. Recognition means leadership shows up and thanks them, gives them a tee shirt – “worth a million bucks”.

So often it is episodic in how people think. When I was asked to get 6% productivity and I didn’t think I could do it, I thought I had better think differently if I was to be successful. I thought Six Sigma and what it entailed was that different way we would get 6% productivity. We weren’t going to get it the old fashioned way. The past is a prelude to the future—so if you are on a path of 2% productivity you will stay on that trend unless you do something differently. We needed to change something. That change was a greater level of engagement of our people and setting them a different level of expectations, additional skills and tools to enable them to be successful, and the expectation and belief they would be successful. Without diminishing the power of the tools, tools alone will not get you there.

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