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  • January 12, 2024 4:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It's critical to train and engage the people who most workers report to and communicate with. ~Dave Rizzardo

    One of the greatest challenges when developing a lean culture is how to get everyone engaged in the continuous improvement strategy. As with any arduous endeavor, it’s beneficial to look for a few points of leverage that provide a disproportionate amount of impact.

    Often, a great place to start is with front-line leaders, making it a priority to teach, coach and mentor them to align their behavior with lean principles and goals.  Continue reading...

  • January 12, 2024 2:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Kudos to our very own Associate Director, Dave Rizzardo, for claiming two spots on IndustryWeek's "Dazzling Dozen: 12 of the Best in Lean and Continuous Improvement in 2023"!  No surprise that is has to do with people, either.  Taking #5, his Respect for People Webinar, and #12, his Respect for People article.  Congratulations, Dave.  Thanks for leading by example!!

  • December 04, 2023 2:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Too often, the answer to early success is having everyone work harder and longer.  Carl Livesay

    As businesses transition to the next phase of maturity, their talent requirements change direction. To paraphrase Helen Keller, a bend in the road is only the end if you fail to make the turn.

    During a manufacturer’s start-up phase, it is common for leaders to surround themselves with people in their image: Trusted and talented people with superior technical abilities and a strong work ethic.  Continue reading here.

  • October 25, 2023 2:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ...Takes Patience, Coaching and Mentoring.  It's important to realize that there are underlying factors contributing to a person’s readiness to learn and take on new tasks. Carl Livesay

    In this tight labor market, workforce development is required of every company. But how do you develop your team? Patience, coaching and mentoring are especially important. Let’s look at all three in action.  

    Click the link for the full article:

  • October 21, 2023 10:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ERP selection is a challenging task and the consequences of poor selection or failed implementation can disrupt a business for years. Success depends on teamwork. The following is the first part of a three-part series on the dos and don'ts of Enterprise Resource Planning systems—what can go right for manufacturers and what can go wrong. Read the full article authored by Carl Livesay here

  • October 03, 2023 5:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “Respect for People—The Fundamental Lean Manufacturing Principle for Improving Operations” is a webinar featuring our Associate Director, Dave Rizzardo!  Dave believes that without alignment with the “Respect for People” Principle, a Lean Culture of Continuous Improvement Is Impossible!

    This event was originally broadcast on August 17, 2023 and is now available for on demand viewing. To access the archived presentation, please click on the following link:

    When presented with the webpage, simply enter your email address and click ‘Log in Now’ to view. If you have questions about this event, please email

  • October 03, 2023 3:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The IndustryWeek Talent Board question for September was: Several employment reports suggest that the labor market has cooled a bit in recent months, rebounding from the massive numbers of people voluntarily quitting jobs last year. What's your take on the quality and availability of talent on the market today?

    To read part one of September's responses, click here.

    Build Teams with Fair Market Wages and Plan for the Long Term—Carl Livesay, General Managery, Mercury Plastics, Inc.

    In South Baltimore, we have noticed a steady decline in the desire for full-time employment. This is exacerbated by the abundance of government subsidies and the failure to support those who are deserving while unintentionally promoting fraud. It is particularly sad to learn that some people refuse 40 hours of work so they can remain below the threshold for one or more government funded subsidies. There are strong financial incentives for people to stay at home and not work. 

    The resulting lack of interest earning an honest living appears to be more prevalent in single adult males under the age of 35. In contrast, single women and single parents supporting a household have emerged as an even stronger workforce resource than before. Recently a surge in business presented an opportunity for a considerable amount of overtime. We were again surprised by the number of people who said they were simply not interested in overtime rates.

    With many of the recent special government giveaway programs now ended, artificially high prices will likely start to normalize. Impulse purchases will slow down. Housing prices and interest rates will return to normal. We are hopeful that people will again be incentive to earn a livable wage at fair market value.

    For many companies, sales are down more than 20% compared to last year. Those that are over-leveraged are struggling to make loan payments and to stay in compliance with bank terms. Cash flow is poor and payments to suppliers are chronically late. Artificially high labor prices are resulting in permanent layoffs.

    In contrast, companies like ours, who resisted the temptation to pay unrealistic wages are on solid ground with their workforce. They continue to build teams earning livable fair market wages with excellent benefits. These companies are planning for the team members’ future long term, so they are naturally selective when hiring and training new people. 

    We are leaning towards the future as we begin building the next generation of senior technical talent and mid-level leaders. Speaking from experience, it is very difficult to find career minded people interested in the future. Fortunately, our investment in lean manufacturing has yielded tremendous benefits operationally and financially. Lean has enabled our company and our workforce to be both scalable and sustainable. We are well positioned to scale the business as needed, and we are ready to capitalize on temporary and permanent surges in business at a moment’s notice.

    It bears mention that the quality of the available labor pool is increasingly disappointing. It appears this poor-quality worker resource is consistent with a lack of responsibility from the worker both professionally and personally. A large number are not investing in themselves and their careers with time or money. Absent of interest by the worker becoming better professionally, they risk replacement by someone who is. There is an emphasis and almost obsession with instant gratification and selfishness. People are easy to find, however good team members are elusive.

    We have been very fortunate to attract and retain a solid team. People that care and people that appreciate that we care about them. When the market and the economy look like a zig zag stitch from a singer sewing machine, it is prudent to focus on the team members that work as a team. In this scenario corporate culture matters most. Do team members feel appreciated? Is there trust? Is the company communicating opening keeping the team informed? Does the team believe you?

    If you build your team on a solid foundation of trust, this is where you realize your return on the investment. The same holds true for your partners (customers and suppliers). If everyone works together, communicating openly and honestly, then the results will be more positive. Manufacturing is a team sport.

  • September 20, 2023 1:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Chutes International, a leading manufacturer of internal and external plastic and steel chutes and compactors, opened its doors this past week to fellow members of the MWCC for an exclusive plant tour. The event showcased not only the remarkable progress they've made on their Lean journey but also their innovative approach to applying Agile principles in their operations.

    Since 2019, Chutes has been on a transformative journey towards operational excellence, and their commitment to continuous improvement was evident throughout the plant tour. Visitors were able to witness firsthand the numerous enhancements made to the shop floor and manufacturing processes. The company's dedication to efficiency and waste reduction was clearly visible in the streamlined workflow and organized workstations.

    One of the most compelling aspects of Chutes' Lean journey was the application of Lean principles within their sales organization. They demonstrated how a Lean mentality, typically associated with production, can be extended to improve processes and decision-making in other departments. This cross-functional approach emphasized collaboration and waste reduction across the board.

    The plant tour also shed light on the company's innovative use of Scrum and Agile techniques. They introduced their "product improvement team" concept, which brings together leaders from the shop floor, engineering, and research & development. This interdisciplinary team works collaboratively to identify opportunities for improvement, rapidly prototype solutions, and implement changes to enhance product quality and customer satisfaction.  By leveraging Agile methodologies, they have embraced a dynamic and customer-centric approach to product development. This enables them to respond swiftly to changing market demands and continuously refine their offerings, ensuring they stay at the forefront of the industry.

    Their commitment to efficiency, collaboration, and customer-centricity serves as an inspiring example for all those on a similar path towards excellence in manufacturing and product development.

  • August 16, 2023 1:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Karen Hanna - Plastics, Machinery & Manufacturing

    Big or small, no matter their processes, manufacturers can benefit from lean, proponents said. Training to develop a workplace culture that embraces continuous improvement is available.

    Most of his clients are small to medium-sized companies, said Henry Foppoli, a managing partner at the AMSaxum consulting firm. Some are in distress; others are just looking to improve.

    Many qualify for state or provincial grants for the services offered by his Burlington, Ontario, firm, which has provided consulting about lean to more than 40 companies since its founding in 2017.

    Foppoli said that many times, companies are unaware of the availability of grants, but consulting firms or government liaisons can help them identify and possibly apply for funds.

    “I don’t know if it’s a lack of marketing problem of the government. They have these beautiful programs, but sometimes they don’t spend too [many] resources in advertising them,” he said.

    One example of a company that’s benefited from grants is Parker Plastics, which has had to cover only half the costs of lean manufacturing training at its Hagerstown, Md., blow molding facility. It's partnered with a number of organizations for training, including Hagerstown Community College and the Maryland World Class Consortia (MWCC), a nonprofit lean consulting firm.

    Over two years, Parker Plastics has gotten close to $30,000 in grants, according to plant manager Michael Genevro.

    “I always let people know, to join that workforce development [agency or Chamber of Commerce] because there's lots of grant money out there,” Genevro said. 

    Supported by public/private partnerships as well as member dues, the MWCC offers workshops and extended trainings. Hundreds of people have graduated from its Lean Facilitator Certification Program since it launched in 2005.

    In October, it will welcome the 28th cohort of its Lean Peer Group, a 12-month program, in which Parker Plastics has participated. It brings together groups of leaders from various companies and industries who are seeking to help each other brainstorm ways to make their businesses more efficient. They share problems and successes along their lean journey.

    Some companies participate on an ongoing basis, said David Rizzardo, associate director of the MWCC, who co-developed the peer group program in 2012.

     “I’m most impressed with the companies that are doing well, but they realize that just because you’re doing well today doesn’t mean you’re going to be doing well tomorrow,” Rizzardo said.

    According to its website, the state provides reimbursement for half the cost of the 12-month program. Companies located elsewhere should check with their own states for funding help.

    Karen Hanna, senior staff reporter

  • August 08, 2023 2:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Consultants, company leaders and employees tout lean manufacturing as an approach that empowers employees while helping companies run more productively.  

    Check out this article published by PMM (Plastics  Machining and Manufacturing) featuring member company Mercury Plastics with commentary by Carl Livesay and Dave Rizzardo.

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