Company Detail: Vitamix, privately owned and operated by the Barnard family since 1921, manufactures and markets blending and mixing products directly to the public and the restaurant/hospitality industry. The company employs more than 700 people, assembles all products in Northeast Ohio, and has a global presence in more than 100 countries.
Growth Challenge: Vitamix had experienced 50+% growth for five consecutive years but needed more employees to meet demand. They had not yet established a successful continuous improvement culture for their current staff and customer lead times were also growing too long. Vitamix’s first Lean Manager Eric DiMalanta saw that they needed more than additional employees to meet demand.
“We also had to improve our processes and systems,” DiMalanta said. “I could see that, if we didn’t do that successfully, we’d just have a lot of people falling all over each other and a lot of chaos.”
How We Worked With Them: MAGNET growth leaders trained key Vitamix management and team members in the principles of continuous improvement and Lean Transformation. Those who were trained then worked with the rest of their workforce on those same principles, establishing a culture of continued growth and improvement through Kaizen events and Lean Principles training. They successfully prioritized and used a 6S (Safety, Sort, Shine, Sustain, Set in Order and Standardize) system as they moved to a 175,000 sq.ft. warehouse facility in nearby Strongsville, Ohio while continuing production in late 2012, experiencing only a slight productivity dip.
Outcome: As they brought their Northeast Ohio workforce up to 800 employees, Vitamix increased machine production by 25% and on-time delivery improved from 75% to 93% within the first year of the continuous improvement program.
Vitamix’s Lean Manager, Eric DiMalanta (left) and MAGNET’s Michael O’Donnell (right) stand outside the company’s Lean Lab, in front of the Kaizen Kudos board. DiMalanta says one of the keys to the company’s lean project success was the enthusiastic engagement of team members at all levels of the company.
Joseph Pullella, Vitamix’s VP of Operations, chats with an employee on one of the production lines.
Vitamix was in the middle of a major Lean transformation when the move to the new Operations Center became necessary. By incorporating 6S and Lean principles into the move planning process, the company saved time and money and increased the effectiveness of the production lines that were moved. Above the work station, simple, illustrated flip charts, provide easy-to-access standard work reference.
Marialineida Calderón, Kitter; Ingrid Cruz, Kitter; Migdalia Valcarcel, Kitter; and Carmen Rivera, Team Lead at their workstation in the brightly lit Strongsville Operations Center. Vitamix has hired hundreds of new workers to keep up with exploding demand for its premium mixer product.
Jeff Carino. Shipping Receiving Supervisor, is one of the people in charge of updating this Production Performance Board for the Distribution and Logistics team. All team members can see at a glance how their unit is performing this month and what might need correcting.