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Growth Manufacturers Case Study

Lean Management in the Fast Lane Gets Employees Revved Up About Team Work and Communication

By Karen Myhaver, NGM Program Support Administrator, MassMEP

Lean Management in the Fast Lane is a one-day event taught by MassMEP and race crew members from the Ken Bouchard "Drive to Victory Lane" race driver instruction and training school. It’s a NASCAR learning experience for building a winning culture. Participants learn the basics of teamwork and leadership with a focus on common goals; and use the tools, equipment, processes and procedures employed by a real NASCAR Modified Tour race team.

’47 Brand of Brockton, a global sports lifestyle brand and producer of headwear and sports apparel for professional sports leagues and colleges, has hosted two "Lean Management in the Fast Lane" events with participants from both company locations. Sales Operations Manager Tom Michael, part of the "red pit crew" shared, "It was a fantastic training that incorporated team building, team work and strategic thinking into a fun event! The MassMEP provided a fantastic learning experience that changed the way we look at our day-to-day business. The blend of classroom and hands-on training really opened up communication between multiple departments which carried over into the office. The event combined the right mix of problem solving & critical thinking sprinkled with good old fashioned competition," he added. "They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but watching our employees zip around the car and compete on different teams, proved that to be wrong. They were still talking about the event and giving "play by plays" a week after they participated"






"THANK YOU all so much for your efforts on Friday. The event was a huge success and everyone was buzzing about it back in the office. Even the employees who didn’t attend had questions. I personally had a Blast and am extremely excited to take that exercise and incorporate it into the next steps of our training program as we continue to grow and invest in our employees."  — Kevin Crean, HR Manager, 47 Brand

Nine employees from Southbridge Sheet Metal Works (SSMW) also participated in a "Lean Management in the Fast Lane" event in June 2014 as part of the Southern Worcester County Manufacturing Collaborative (SWCMC).

Office Manager Angela Brown shared their thoughts on the training: "We chose a mix of employees to attend who could then spread the lean concepts throughout the company and strengthen the SSMW team. Office and production staff, supervisors, and management comprised two pit crews at the event. It ended up being office versus production and apparently the office team won despite having the two females and a bit more ‘maturity’ on their side!" she laughs.  

Brown continued:

Not only was this a team building event but it also helped to embed elements from previous trainings like TWI – Job Instruction and Lean Principles. This single event helped break down some typical barriers that most companies have – sales versus production, quality versus production, office versus production.  Bonds were built that day that have carried over and today our team is much stronger as a result.

I highly recommend the Lean Management in the Fast Lane training given by the MassMEP to any company. The training far exceeded our expectations! Not only did it combine the tools of Lean, Job Instruction, and Job Methods, but it also had an impact on the Southbridge Sheet Metal Works Team.  It provided both the environment and opportunity for people from the various departments in the shop and office to get to know each other better and build bonds.  If you could only have one Team Building event, this is it! Excellent staff, very knowledgeable, and well organized!

Angela also added (with reference to ALL the training they are receiving through the SWCMC): "The training is actually helping reshape our culture from ‘this is the way we have always done it’ to ‘let’s get a team together and solve the problem or see if we can achieve better or more efficient results.’"

Brown says that employees at all levels are embracing the training and are eager to put it to use and that the Basic Manufacturing Skills class has benefitted every employee that has taken it. SSMW has incorporated the tools and terminology into their everyday meetings, conversations, problem solving, and thinking which has resulted in a changed culture all working together at continuous improvement. As a bonus, Brown says, "the morale of the people is improving because we are investing in the employees and then empowering them to help grow and improve the company. What can be better than that?"

Register for a "Lean Management in the Fast Lane" event in April 2015 on our web site – www.massmep.org.