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Lean Transformations - St Louis Community College
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  George H. Friesen
  Business Practice Leader - Lean Transformations
  Workforce Solutions Group
  St. Louis Community College, MO


Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc. is a leading manufacturer and marketer of sporting goods in the United States. Since the company’s inception in 1887, Rawlings’ mission has always centered on enabling participation in sports by developing and producing innovative, high-performance equipment and protective apparel for the professional, amateur and entry-level player. Rawlings is the Official Baseball Supplier and Official Helmet maker of Major League Baseball, the official baseball supplier of Minor League Baseball, the official baseball and softball supplier for the NCAA, and the approved baseball, basketball, football, and softball supplier of the National High School Federation. Many young players aspire to having a Rawlings baseball glove and when they get one it becomes one of their most treasured possessions. Rawlings is indeed one of our country’s most iconic brands.

Not one to rest on its laurels, Rawlings recognizes that even iconic brands have faded into oblivion and that the only way to ensure market dominance is to drive continuous improvement in all sectors of its operations. For the last several years they have focused on using the thinking processes and tools of Lean manufacturing to drive continuous improvement at their Distribution Center in Washington, MO. This 400,000 sq. ft. Center plays a key role in Rawlings operations. For example, each month it ships an average of 33,000 packages to Rawlings customers and each month receives an average of 110 containers from suppliers.

Rawlings selected St. Louis Community College to support continuous improvement at the Center. Over a period of two years a series five Lean training and coaching series were provided at the Center. We started with a program called Kaizen Thinking, an eleven session series focused on helping employees identify waste in work processes. Concurrent with Kaizen Thinking, we launched a process called The Idea Board. We continued with a series called Learning to See, focusing on Value Stream Mapping, a Lean tool used to optimize work processes. Next we provided managers and supervisors with training in a process called Toyota KATA, the most significant addition to the processes of Lean Manufacturing made in the last fifteen years. We concluded with the implementation of the 5S System, a process that results in the development of exceptionally lean, orderly, and clean work areas.

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