Talent Unleashed by Lean

By Stephanie Bursek, SPHR

I had the pleasure to sit down with Jamie Gibbs, our Print and Laser Specialist, recently and learn about his career, life and journey with Lean. Jamie has been with TrippNT for eleven years and has contributed many improvements along the way.

Before TrippNT: An Artisan and a Gentleman

This part of Jamie’s life (from high school to joining TrippNT) could be called: “Jamie figuring out what he does NOT want to do for a living.”  His first job was at hamburger joint Winstead’s - where he did everything from flipping burgers to the dishes.  He was promoted to manager and discovered he preferred to be on a team rather than lead one.

Jamie has immense patience and attention to detail and this was never better demonstrated than when he made his living as a cabinet maker.  Jamie worked for nine years making doors for cabinets.  He loved making quality doors and focused on this one aspect of cabinet making for the entire nine years.

When things slowed down in cabinet making, Jamie worked for a couple of years picking and shipping orders for Musician’s Friend, learning that those activities did not spark for him the kind of satisfaction that comes from artisanship.

Jamie also briefly spent time helping a friend tear down old barns. Hard physical work - but a built in history lesson every day.

Jamie spoke of being unemployed for a bit before joining TrippNT, expressing the stress of it - but also gratitude for time spent with his son, Spence. Jamie lights up when he speaks of his son - fatherhood is clearly his first priority.

2013 - Jamie Joins TrippNT

On February 4, 2013, Jamie joined TrippNT as a fabricator.  Jamie recalls being trained by Bob Tripp, one of TrippNT’s founders. He described the entire team building smaller products in the morning, then switching to building carts in the afternoon.  They used this batch approach for years.

In his eleven years, Jamie has become what we call a “quadruple threat” at TrippNT.  He can build our smaller products, he can build a cart, run a CNC machine and he has mastered print and laser. People often comment when they participate in one of our quarterly TrippNTours on how pristine his area is.

He wisely avoids only one task: shipping - based on his previous experience as a picker/shipper at another employer, preferring to focus on what he’s good at.

Reflections on Lean

In 2018, TrippNT started its Lean journey - when the entire team read Paul Aker’s 2 Second Lean together. Jamie admits he was a bit skeptical at first: “It sounded kinda crazy.”

He recalls that his first improvement was to move the drawer slides closer to the cart line, reducing the wastes of motion and transportation. That felt good, so he kept going. I asked him if he ever struggles to find an improvement and he responded with a definite “No. There is always another improvement.”

One of Jamie’s most brilliant improvements is also his favorite and is worth a view. It answers the question: How do you always stay stocked in ink?   (Please do check out our TrippNT Lean Improvements Channel - we have almost 3,000 improvements to share.)

I told Jamie that I was reading a book (The Toyota Economic System by Olivier Larue) and that one of the assertions of this book is that the Toyota Production System, if done correctly, restores dignity to the worker on the line. He said he absolutely agreed, adding “I am trusted to make improvements, even when it involves moving heavy equipment.”

On Being a Mentor

Now that Jamie has mastered print and laser, he has taken on an apprentice.  Tony Chavira, Cart Line Specialist is blessed with TrippNT’s value of “Desire to Learn” and approached Jamie about being trained. At every opportunity, Jamie involves Tony in his work so that he can learn.

I asked Jamie if he ever worries about sharing knowledge that previously was his alone.  He smiled and said no. With eleven years of tenure, he is stockpiling PTO and he knows that Tony’s training will allow him to use it.

What’s Next

Jamie’s desire is to continue doing what he is doing for the near future. But then he added: “With challenges - lots of challenges.”  Jamie has truly embraced Lean and understands that challenges present an opportunity to learn and grow.