Three and a half years ago, Correct Craft, Inc., the manufacturer of Nautique Boats decided it was time to start its lean journey. When the previously family-owned company came under new management, the timing seemed perfect to move the culture to one that relied on lean techniques to take advantage of some new opportunities.

The first step was to make sure that the top management was fully immersed in the tenants of lean. Over the course of year the president, the director of operations and the senior level management absorbed the fundamentals of Lean/Six Sigma through training and certifications.

While classroom training was beneficial, the company wanted to benchmark against other companies who were using lean. Working with the Florida MEP (Manufacturing Extension Program) they toured area plants to pick up pointers on implementation.

Starting their first Kaizen events with a task that could be completed in one day, the company set up teams of 4 floor employees. These teams were without supervisors and were given complete freedom as to how to complete the event, explains Matt McGinnis, Director of Operations.

While some companies meet with resistance from the workforce when implementing lean, employees at Correct Craft embraced the process. Our associates were extremely thankful to have a voice in operations, commented McGinnis.

The new openness on procedures occurred while the company was overhauling its quality systems which resulted in quality data that could now be tracked more closely and made available on the factory floor. The company was quite happy with what the new metrics were showing; especially when the number of hours billed to product was decreased by 30%. Prior to the transition, employees were putting in a lot of overtime hours to get the job done.

We saw a drastic improvement in our financial position. We not only met our strategic goals we exceeded them, said McGinnis. In fact the company instituted a profit-sharing plan which included management and production employees equally.

Flush with success that many didnt believe was possible; the company is now in the process of putting together its next three year strategic plan which will continue the lean journey.

Success was not based on luck. A company must first understand what kind of culture they have and spend a lot of time educating employees on the lean culture. Understanding leads to acceptance. And its essential to make sure that you have a system in place which clearly outlines where you are currently and were you need to go, stated McGinnis.