Employees are kept in the loop through daily, monthly and “near misses” meetings. Each day the operations manager, production manager, shipping manager and programmer of the water-jet cutting equipment discuss any potential issues. During monthly luncheon meetings, the entire staff receives Kaizen training related to some aspect of the business. In March, the company covered production floor safety when carrying heavy loads. “Near misses” meetings are called when a problem nearly occurred, but didn’t. “We make sure the problem doesn’t ‘almost happen’ again,” says Hampton.

The quality program at Waco Composites stays on track with the help of outside consultants. One contractor conducts weekly walk-through audits of the plant and tells Hampton if he sees any hazards, such as containers missing the proper identification labels. “We are willing to be corrected,” says Hampton. “That’s part of continual improvement.”

Last year, Waco Composites hired a consultant to complete a waste analysis study. The consultant spent three months learning the company’s processes, evaluating where there was waste and how much it cost, and recommending how to reduce waste. Waco Composites discovered it threw away approximately $250,000 in wasted product annually and paid $25,000 to have it hauled away. The company worked with its suppliers to reduce waste. For example, it asked for custom size rolls of woven roving fiberglass material so less waste is generated when it’s cut.

“Our mantra these days is increased efficiencies,” says Hampton. “Things are tight everywhere, and we can’t afford waste. We’ve caused all our suppliers to get efficient with us.” Creating efficiencies, earning ISO certification and relying on Kaizen principles has benefitted Waco Composites. Hampton says the company has new business opportunities in Europe and Asia. “It’s opened up the whole world to us,” he says.
Company Name: Best Bath Systems Inc.
Headquarters: Caldwell, Idaho
Business Focus: A manufacturer of composite components for durable showers and walk-in tubs
Employees: 80
Plant size: 100,000 square feet

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Each department at Best Bath Systems utilizes a scoreboard to gain employee input on ways the company can become lean.

Many companies are plagued with trying to find the best way to create value for customers. Best Bath Systems Inc. decided to reevaluate its operating processes to efficiently maximize customer value and minimize wastes. The company implemented lean manufacturing in 2000 to help.