Vermeer CEO Believes in Paying Lean Forward

June 18, 2012
Vermeer Corp. CEO Mary Andringa shares her lean message both within and outside the manufacturing community.

Vermeer may be a privately held manufacturing company, but like public companies it has a board that includes independent directors. It was one of those independent directors -- he was from the Hon Co. -- who urged Vermeer's leaders in the mid-1990s to investigate the benefits of lean manufacturing. In fact, he brought it up on multiple occasions, according to Mary Andringa, president and CEO of Vermeer Corp.

"I give him credit that he was a thorn," she says.

These days Andringa has taken up that mantle at times. She admits to having been a thorn in the side of several companies or groups when it comes to sharing her passion for lean and continuous improvement -- in a good way.

It definitely holds true among firms directly associated with Vermeer. For instance, Andringa says she has already helped kick off lean in a manufacturing firm in which Vermeer recently took part ownership, addressing the importance of embracing the process.

"It's exciting to see [them] realize how the process can work so they can be more effective in delivering value to their customers."

"I've done this with virtually every new plant that we've gone into," Andringa says. "I've also spoken to several key customer groups several times, trying to engage their leadership. It's exciting to see [them] realize how the process can work so they can be more effective in delivering value to their customers."

She's also taken the message to organizations well outside of the manufacturing community. Education, for instance. Andringa has introduced lean to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., where she is a trustee.

"This institution has a lean steering committee, many of them have gone to academic training for lean, and they are using the process to better utilize resources at the institution," Andringa says.

Andringa "has been our chief cheerleader for lean," says Wendy Wakeman, vice president, enrollment and student affairs at Fuller. Not only did the Vermeer leader provide seed money for lean training at the institution, but Andringa provides continuing encouragement as the seminary pursues its lean initiatives.

See Also:

Vermeer Corp.'s Mary Andringa: A Champion of Lean

Video: Overcoming the Challenges of Manufacturing in the U.S.-- Mary Andringa's Keynote Address from the 2012 IW Best Plants Conference

15 Years into Lean, CEO Mary Andringa is Still Finding Room to Improve

Vermeer Invests in the Future with Teacher Internships

About the Author

Jill Jusko

Bio: Jill Jusko is executive editor for IndustryWeek. She has been writing about manufacturing operations leadership for more than 20 years. Her coverage spotlights companies that are in pursuit of world-class results in quality, productivity, cost and other benchmarks by implementing the latest continuous improvement and lean/Six-Sigma strategies. Jill also coordinates IndustryWeek’s Best Plants Awards Program, which annually salutes the leading manufacturing facilities in North America.

Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!