One year ago we made a commitment to take a hard look at the everyday operations of our company to find ways to increase efficiency and better serve our customers. Since that day, our Lean Sigma journey has been exciting, challenging and rewarding.
The foundation of the Lean Sigma managerial concept is actually very simple – eliminate waste, strive for continuous improvement and focus on creating value for the customer. It’s about taking a step back from your day-to-day routine, looking at what you do and then finding ways to do it more efficiently. The process, we learned, is also paramount in furthering our ability to remain competitive in our market. In Japan, the philosophy is summed up by one word: “Kaizen” or “change for the good.”
Led by a committee of SavATree team members, all of whom received Lean certification, we began to isolate functions of our business and identify extra steps and inefficiencies. While going through our first Lean initiative we repeatedly asked ourselves the question, “Is this the best way to do it?” When we were finished, the impact was immediate and tangible allowing us to cut set up time for our crews by over 50%, an incredible number for a company that has always been somewhat fanatical about efficiency.
The inspiration to embark on our lean journey came from our strategic vendor, Vermeer Corporation, a global leader in the manufacturing of specialized products for the agriculture, construction and tree care industries. We consider Vermeer Corporation to be the gold standard in Lean Sigma. After paying a visit to their manufacturing plant, we truly understood the impact that Lean can have on overall efficiency andcompany culture.
Ultimately, the benefit of our Lean initiatives is felt by our customers. By modifying our internal processes, we are able to reduce our lead time and spend more time doing what we love – interacting with customers and beautifying their landscapes. There is no question that Lean thinking requires a change in mindset but I have been thrilled to see the team at SavATree embracing the initiative and working it into their day-to-day routines.