Jul 8, 2007

You could get out of the fog and start clearing the dust

Jane Larson of the Arizona Republic reported Jun. 27, 2007 that a company can surmount what Goldratt called a constraint in the marketplace.

MistAmerica Corp., manufacturer of stainless-steel misting systems, found a new market outside residential pools and commercial patios, a seasonal industry if there ever was one. The misting systems provide cooling as well as moody fog around the pool or fountain.

It started offering its $3,000 misters to industrial customers for use in suppressing dust, and the expansion has given the company a year-round market and helped push up sales 40 percent since last year, founder Jonathan Marsh said. MistAmerica also has added a service department, which Marsh said is unusual in the small and fragmented industry.

I don't know if Marsh uses lean in manufacturing operations or not, but he has the answer to the conundrum faced by a lot of people who've done so. How do you use newly freed-up employees and floor space?

It takes creativity, but this is what a lean leader needs to develop. Get out, find out how a different market works, what potential customers need, how they make decisions. And if you're in an industry or location facing hard times, don't fall into pessimism. You're not just supplying a physical product -- you're supplying a talented workforce, the ability to put together efficient systems that can beat your potential competitors, and the consciousness that it all starts with the customer.

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