Our Lean Journey

Adopted from an Essay by Sebastian McLeod

The Doldrums

For seventeen years, Sue, Bob, and Sebastian had successfully grown and managed the company with no formal education or in-depth knowledge of manufacturing. The manufacturing processes that were integral to the business now started to restrict growth. It wasn’t until 2010 that they started actively looking for solutions to the obstacles.  By then, TrippNT had about twenty-five employees and the company had matured to include significantly more products and those products included more variety of choice for customers: more sizes, more shapes, more colors.  The processes to build many of these products grew in complexity at the same time. The fact that TrippNT had always achieved dynamic profitability without facing significant challenges in the past really starting to work against its ability to deliver consistently to customers.

The Example

Sebastian then visited a company in Kansas City, Labconco, and was introduced to traditional Lean manufacturing. As he was taking a tour of their manufacturing space, the Director of Engineering was telling him about the improvements that had been made to the welding area [and process], how all of the welders had participated in the improvement process and the dramatic benefits that had come from their efforts.

The ingenuity and resourcefulness demonstrated at Labconco were something Sebastian knew were present, but underutilized at TrippNT. He and the other leaders started off by reading books about 5S and Lean manufacturing, which then lead them to a local community college and the initial TrippNT Kaizen events. 2014 was a landmark year. It was the first time the company actually shut down the shop for two days and executed a Kaizen event. Everyone got involved and some incredible improvements were made throughout the shop. That event was led by an industrial engineer from the community college. It really seemed as though the company had begun to turn a corner and was on its way to becoming more efficient, productive, and profitable.

The Slump

But, reality set in. The whirlwind of the business took back over. Customers continued to be demanding, control over lead times was slipping, and defects of all kinds were returning. Even though they had contributed significantly to the amazing spike in efficiency and morale, the infrequent Kaizen events were the first thing to be cut; there just didn’t seem to be “time” to focus on incremental improvements. The company never did another Kaizen event of the same magnitude as that initial event ever again. There didn’t seem to be enough of an upside for the diversion and expense to be worth the effort.

The Comeback

Then in the fall of 2018, Sebastian heard of 2 Second Lean from an engineer at Cambridge Engineering during an awards ceremony in St. Louis, MO. He shortly would need to travel for business almost three hours from the shop. He decided to download the audio version of Paul Akers’ book and listened to it on the drive. That’s when he began to imagine the benefits that 2 Second Lean, in its simplicity, would bring to TrippNT. Hearing the energy and passion in Paul’s voice just tied the entire thing together. Sebastian likes to say that when he had finished listening to 2 Second Lean on that road trip he discovered such an overwhelming feeling of peace inside. TrippNT officially started following the 2 Second Lean model on January 9th, 2019. The company read the book all together five pages at a time. Everyone in the organization participated.

The Sustaining Fire

From Sebastian on the current state of Lean at TrippNT:  “Without getting into all of the gritty details, I can tell you that the biggest change that has happened to me is that going to work is absolutely fun every single day. Our company has made over two thousand improvements and over nine hundred improvement videos. Improving something every day becomes embedded in our culture more and more every day. The culture of TrippNT, as great as it was before, has gotten better. To say that this has been life-changing is an understatement. Every day is a new day. Every day presents so many opportunities. Because Paul Akers was able to boil down his message in such a simple and easy-to-understand way our company is an exciting place to be and every person who works here knows that their tomorrow is guaranteed to be better because they improved something today.” 

TrippNT LEAN Improvements Channel

Since beginning our lean journey in early 2019, our employees have shared nearly 3,000 small improvements to fix what bugs them! We document these with our TrippNT LEAN Improvements Channel, and share them with the whole company during our morning meetings.

Everyone in our company submits at least one improvement video every month, with an "employee genius" award for whoever creates the most improvements at the end of each quarter! Check out examples of our daily improvements below:

Interested in beginning a lean journey within your own organization?

Find Lean resources below, or contact the TrippNT Sales team for a personalized proposal.

Recommended Readings

A comprehensive list of TrippNT's recommended learning resources.

Download Now  

Learn Lean

Your Dynamic Snippet will be displayed here... This message is displayed because you did not provided both a filter and a template to use.