Amoskeag Woodworking Takes On 5S and Process Improvement

Amoskeag Woodworking, based in Colchester, VT, employs 42 people. Established in 1992, they manufacture and sell high-end millwork for commercial industries such as banks, hospitals and retail operations. Roughly 80% of their business is commercial, the remaining 20% residential. Other shops in the area have closed due to competition and the economy. The closest competition that Amoskeag faces is located in Maine and Southern New England.

Amoskeag realized as their operation grew, they were in need of organizational as well as utilization assistance of their work space. Flow of work and its timing affected output to the customer. Kevin Hastings, company owner, attended a VMEC Lean workshop and met with Paul Demers, VMEC Manufacturing Advisor, to discuss their situation. Paul assessed their situation as lead times being too long, starting in the office/ administrative area first, carrying into the shop. It was determined that a 5S and Process Improvement system was necessary.

It was determined that the bid process was lengthier than necessary. From start (bidding a job to the customer) to nearly finish (beginning the manufacturing process of the job) was taking approximately 101 days. The process was too choppy and there were too many lag days. By cutting out unnecessary steps and a system of checks and balances and internal deadlines, the start to finish process was decreased to 45 days.

By compressing bid-to-job days, Amoskeag increased its volume of output from 2009 to 2010 sales by over 60% and first quarter 2011 sales exceeded their 2010 total sales.  This volume increase allowed them to seek additional space for their growing operation and in early 2011, Amoskeag purchased Morse Hardwoods in Fairfax, VT.

According to Kevin Hastings, President and Owner, “Amoskeag would not have been able to handle the growth and standardization we have now unless we had contacted and worked with VMEC. Having learned what we now know has allowed us to expand confidentially and take on new challenges.”

Amoskeag Woodworking Takes On 5S and Process Improvement