IW Best Plants Profile - 1991

This is a story of a small manufacturing company whose products used to be poor quality. But by 1991, it was recognized by the construction industry as one of the best and earned its own Best Plants award.

Stone makes light construction equipment: cement and mortar mixers; concrete finishing equipment; contractor pumps; and handheld, ride-on, and walk-behind compactors. The plant is 100 percent employee owned.

The efforts of management and employees have resulted in a significant list of improvements since Stone began its journey toward world-class status in 1986. For example, Stone used to take some 10 days to make one of its mixers. By 1991, the mixers were completed in one day.

Just-in-time (JIT), computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing, concurrent engineering, cellular manufacturing, and computer-integrated manufacturing have played their part in Stone's renaissance. But there is more to it. The company is market-oriented, dedicated to customer satisfaction.

Managers have been trained to manage by respect rather than power. Quality inspection has been replaced by process control. Time clocks have been eliminated.

People who are knowledgeable in an area can provide input for upgrades and solutions. The company initiated an employee-driven manufacturing change request (MCR) system. In one nine-month period, 700 MCRs were received, and 80 percent were implemented.

"Make it right the first time" is the ideology at Stone. When customers have a question, they know who to call, because each employee signs off completed products.

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