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Growth Manufacturer Case Study

A New Perspective Helps Precision Sportswear Deliver!

“We were willing to try whatever we needed to do to lower prices, and increase turnaround time in order to be competitive and increase business."
Neal Venancio, Owner and CEO, Precision Sportswear

After nearly thirty years in the cut and sew industry, Precision Sportswear had seen their work diminish to such an extent that they were struggling to find enough just to keep the doors open. “The passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) made it advantageous to have this type of work done inexpensively overseas which caused many in our industry to close their doors,” says Neal Venancio, Precision’s owner and CEO.  “We were willing to try whatever we needed to do to lower prices, and increase turnaround time in order to be competitive and increase business.“

The Fall River company had worked on a Workforce Training Fund grant with consultant Rob Vitello, who recommended the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Mass MEP) as a good resource to help them achieve these goals. MassMEP, Project Manager Rick Bowie invited the owner to participate in a public Lean training event that could be used to introduce Lean to Precision’s employees. Venancio felt the experience was so worthwhile that he literally shut down his company for a day so the entire staff of twenty-seven, could experience the training on-site. “Our employees reacted well to the training and began offering improvement ideas for their own environment,” he said.

One of the most eye opening and beneficial events occurred when Rick worked with an employee team to Value Stream Map the flow of processes through their facility. “Precision Sportswear is on the third floor of the building with an elevator that comes up through the center,” described Venancio.  “As we grew and spread out or added machinery we put things where they fit rather than thinking about where they made the most sense.  We had significant waste of time and motion of materials and people during production.” After looking at how the layout affected productivity, Office Manager Helena Alves, made the outrageous suggestion to take everything from the right side of the space and flip it to the left side and vice a versa. “It all started because the cutting room manager really needed more space,” she says. “I made the suggestion and I was heard.” They moved an estimated 95% of the equipment during the Kaizen event which followed. “We continue to move and tweak things, says Venancio. “We are up and running and enjoying the improvements, but it is a work in progress; Continuous Improvement! “

On the more traditional jobs with more repetitive processes Precision can definitely see faster turnarounds. “We are saving a week on orders that used to take three,” says Alves.  “We are able to perform much more efficiently and improve on our quoted costs as well. That makes the clients happy and makes us more competitive.” Not only has Precision been able to keep all their employees during this difficult economic time but they are in the process of hiring two more.


  • Better communication with clients – jobs easier to schedule, faster to start and in smaller batch sizes
  • Worked with client to reduce delivery lead time by 50%
  • Reduced delivery to other customers by 33%
  • Performance on jobs compared to quoted cost improved 15-50%
  • New plant layout to improve flow and reduce waste allows Precision to reduce cost  to customer and cut lead time
  • Retained all employees during down economy
  • Hired two new employees

This is how a company in the cut and sew industry stays competitive with overseas opportunities and keeps doing business and creating jobs in the Massachusetts. 

“I am really overwhelmed by the whole (Lean) process, says Venancio. It was great!  In the beginning I was not sure how it would help us. I did not understand the Lean principles. It has made a world of difference for Precision and for our future here. I am so glad we did it!”

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