Creating Constructive Change: Efficiency Applied
Simple, inexpensive changes helped Prodigy Mold and Too create an environment that changed the complexion of their business.
Prodigy Mold and Tool, Inc. has been a premier mold manufacturer for years. Its innovative approaches and high standards have set the shop apart from its competitors. During the last slow down, business was still good, but President Shawn McGrew believed they needed to try some different approaches.
After evaluating their processes it became apparent that as technology helped them excel it also allowed for some bad habits to creep into their process. Communication between engineers and the customers became a bottleneck; communication between employees resulted in misinformation; and, silly
mistakes caused tension as deadlines loomed. Prodigy’s success forced them to add machine tools, but the building became too small for all of the equipment. People were working on top of each other and it was tough to create a standard method for storing fixtures and tools. Prodigy overcame these obstacles by sheer determination and hard work, along with the dedication of their employees.
Once again McGrew knew that in order to prepare for the future and position their shop for the challenges ahead, he would have to streamline the operation beginning with four initial steps:
1. Collaboration: A more thorough kick-off meeting was implemented each time they received a project. All key personnel were invited and explanations were given to each person on how they quoted the job, including areas that could cause trouble. Each team member was encouraged to provide input; to really open up about how they thought the project should proceed. This by itself created a cost savings and gave each member a real say in how things would be built.
2. Communications: From the engineers at Prodigy to the engineers at the customer, communication was color coded. As deadlines drew closer and information wasn’t being exchanged, the stress level and color level increased. The immediate response from customers was very positive. They were questions on the very first color coded e-mail as to “What is going on?” or “Why are you doing this?” Communication from the customer suddenly improved, but was not perfect. This simple step did not cost Prodigy anything other than a simple, disciplined routine, and it worked.
3. Organization: With a continual communications agenda clearly in hand, the owners along with the shop floor personnel were able to see a clearer path for the future, but they still had a building that was too small and they spent way too much time looking for tools. Since building an addition would not happen instantly, they had to work with the space they had. More attention was given to cleaning up each workspace and organizing the storage area. The situation improved and jobs moved through the shop more efficiently.
4. Follow-up: Once a job was completed the communication changes kept moving forward. The customer was surveyed about the services performed and asked how Prodigy could serve them better. Many customers commented that they have never been asked this before, which set Prodigy apart from many other shops.
The results of the simple, inexpensive changes Prodigy made were obvious and immediate. Many shops will invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a machine that will improve one small area of a shop. With simple improvements you can create an environment that changes the whole complexion of how you can run your business.
Prodigy has already broken ground for a new addition, and has had a very busy spring and summer. No one can say it is entirely due to their improved communications, but with so many pieces to the puzzle it cannot be denied that putting certain pieces in place does help create a better big picture for their customers and how their operation runs.