Thursday, December 3, 2009

Guitar String Manufacturer Gets Lean

When I think of D'Addario I think of the strings I use to create bludgeoning melodic death metal riffs. I think of face melting solos, headbanging, and on stage theatrics. The last thing I really think about is lean manufacturing. But after watching this video from CNN's small business blog I can tell that CEO Jim D'Addario gets it. Although the video is fairly light on real lean manufacturing content there was a passage that keyed me into the fact that D'Addario is practicing and succeeding using real lean. The part I am speaking of is when he talks about not laying people off. The moment you lay someone off because of the success of lean your lean journey has ended; in fact it has died a horrific death. No one is going to improve a process that works them out of a job. As I have discussed on BadskiBlog before, labor is cheap. It is your materials and inventory that make up the majority of your costs. By reducing inventory and waste while simultaneously increasing throughput and capacity you have effectively paid for all your labor. I think that the fact D'Addario is producing a product that is basically a commodity in one of the highest taxed states in the United States really says something. These strings certainly could be made in China, however D'Addario is using lean which is a growth strategy instead of resorting to a cost cutting outsourcing strategy. Good story that shows that manufacturing in the US is not and does not have to be dead!

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