If a lean-flow expert told you to get rid of your hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of conveyor belts, would you do it? As crazy as that may sound, it was the exact situation Delray Plants Co. President Randy Gilde found himself in. Although it wasn’t an easy decision, he followed the expert’s advice and eliminated all of the conveyor belts in six of the Venus, Fla.-based company’s packing houses.
Why did he do it? Because he heard of the positive results other growers found after implementing lean-flow techniques in their own companies. Gilde says he first talked seriously about lean flow with Kerry Herndon of Kerry’s Nursery Inc. at the Big Grower Executive Summit.
“We’ve been in this a long time,” Gilde says. “We think that we know what we’re doing and that we’re smart. Yet you bring in somebody who does this for a living, no different than your tax attorney or your accountant … that’s when I think we realized as a company that even though we thought we did everything the most efficient way, maybe somebody could come in and teach us something.”
So about two years ago, Delray Plants decided to hire FlowVision, a worldwide lean-flow consulting company that Herndon recommended.
“It was tough,” Gilde says about the changes that then took place. But they paid off. Operating without the conveyor belts not only saves time; the company also doesn’t have to worry about making repairs to the belts, and it has saved electricity. One of the loading docks was converted into a warehouse that Delray Plants would’ve had to build had it not been for lean flow. The company is also operating with 60 less people on payroll than it did before the processes were put in place.
It has also influenced the company’s culture. Gilde says his employees are constantly looking for ways to save time and cut costs.
When it comes to lean flow, Gilde’s advice is straight and to the point.
“No matter how good you think you’re running your operation, you can always improve, and we can’t be stubborn to that,” he says. “When I’m talking to a grower, I just say pretty bluntly, ‘How ever you’ve been doing it, you can probably do it better.’”
Want to know more?
Delray Plants Co., (800) 854-5393; delrayplants.com