Turbulence, Opportunity, and Lean

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Those of us who work in Lean tend naturally to be optimists: most of the glasses we see are half-full, ready to be filled to the rim. Admittedly, we sometimes tour a facility for which there really is no hope, but those are the rare exceptions.

So what are we seeing in the current economic turbulence – this enormous “re-set” for so many American industries? Interestingly, we at Leonardo Group are visiting a number of plants looking at attractive opportunities. None of these are businesses-as-usual. Rather, they’re all in the midst of strategic changes, plant moves, consolidations, and growth phases. And their managers are employing Lean principles to speed up and optimize these restructuring efforts.

Some examples:
A manufacturer of high-tech, Green building supplies needs to consolidate two plants into one while also adding substantial capacity – all within six months. Lean will be their formula for success.

An entrepreneur, spinning off from a well-established furniture company to build a premium niche product line, is preparing to open an entirely new production facility, designed from the ground up according to Lean principles.

A remanufacturing company, enjoying the higher productivity and additional capacity resulting from a recent Lean line implementation, will now be taking on substantial new contracts in 2010 due to the closure of a sister facility in another state.

A business owner and patent holder is bringing all the manufacturing for his product line back from the Pacific Rim to the United States, so as to better control engineering, quality and distribution. His new facility here will be Lean from the start.

We applaud entrepreneurs like these. They, and we hope many others, will be “off to the races” as we turn the corner into 2010. Will your organization be there with them?

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