Editor’s Note: In case you missed it! This Lean Post is an updated version of a podcast post published on February 10, 2020, just before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Executives who join LEI’s Lean Leadership Forum on July 13–14 will learn from United Plastic Fabricating (UPF) CEO Andrew Lingel and have the chance to visit the company’s headquarters and manufacturing facility.
Since 2017, Lingel has led the mid-size manufacturer on a lean transformation encompassing the entire enterprise from sales to fulfillment. Despite the pandemic’s enormous challenges, UPF has continued to set record productivity numbers and increase revenue by diversifying its business. Lingel credits the company’s improved productivity to relentless kaizen in manufacturing and its transition from craft to flow production in design engineering. Meanwhile, hoshin kanri has been instrumental in aligning the executive team around new markets to pursue.
The original post and interview follow.
Three years ago, Andrew Lingel took over as the second-generation president of United Plastic Fabricating (UPF), a maker of polypropylene products primarily for the fire industry. Generational transition in a family business is not a trivial matter. And Lingel made the challenge even harder by choosing to lead the organization through a lean transformation not long after assuming his new responsibilities. Also, as if that were not difficult enough, he did not isolate the transformation to the shop floor; instead, it encompassed the entire enterprise through sales, engineering, and manufacturing.
The results have been impressive. UPF recently reported record output in back-to-back months. The organizational strategy has shifted from focusing on cost reduction through kaizen to strategic growth, leveraging the capacity they have freed up through kaizen.
In the podcast, Andrew discusses his approach to engaging the organization in transformation. He has whittled UPF’s success down to three components:
- Knowledge – an understanding of basic lean concepts;
- Grit – an environment where employees can be resilient;
- Outrage – a deep dissatisfaction with the way things are going because you know that they can be better.