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Change Management

PART V. 

 

Once your company declares WAR there are many battles to be ^ won and many new fronts to be opened. The momentum that can propel your army forward many times comes from celebrating your hard won success. At the Andersen Corporation, a recog­nized leader in the production of residential window and patio doors, we have won many battles and continue to fight for improvement and change on many fronts. Our story is a clear., demonstration of using the levers of change, tapping sources of , energy and using a change strategy in a combination unique to our company to create a competitive advantage. As part of the process, during the smoke and fury of the fight, we have developed a culture of change.

I am a Vietnam combat veteran, and I know what it is like to go to war. Although the comparison between war and business is a tough one, it is an appropriate one. We need to change from the old paradigm positions that cause corporations to become com­placent and that catch them unprepared. The competitive threat we face head on is seldom the one that is going to get us. As manufacturing companies, we also need to be concerned about our flanks. We need to watch for those issues that many large organizations typically ignore. Big organizations find it difficult to cope with change. It was this recognition that fostered all the change in our company to the focus factory concept. By finding and implementing ways to stay small, you enhance flexibility,

communication, and decision making. The difference between success or failure is not only making the right moves toward meeting the challenge offered by our competition, but also the challenge offered by our own companies. Walt Kelly's comic strip Pogo stated, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." I found that I needed to call on the same set of resources on our major initiative of continuous flow manufacturing that I did in real combat.

The Andersen Corporation was founded by a Danish immigrant in 1903. The Company is privately owned and we pride ourselves in fair dealings with people as well as manufacturing quality window and patio door products that have become the standard of comparison in the industry. Andersen is the largest manufac­turer of wood windows in the world.

The Company is located on 100 acres of land on the St. Croix River in Bayport, Minnesota. The manufacturing is a single site operation devoted exclusively to producing windows and patio doors. It has been the company home for 79 of 89 years of operation. The plant is 2.7 million square feet under one roof that equates to 62 acres or more than six stadiums the size of the Minneapolis Metrodome!

The main product lines include over 1,500 stock sizes and 12,000 varied options with accessories and replacement items that make up over 39,000 items offered for sale. Product is primarily assembled to stock based on actual customer orders. The make-to-order business is about 15% of volume and growing. The main lines of casement, double-hung and patio door products constitute 90% of the business. A network of 118 independent distributors handled orders for approximately 5 million windows and patio doors in 1992.

One of the key distinctive competencies of Andersen is the ability to utilize resources to efficiently mass produce high quality standard products in high volumes. These high volumes allow the mass production methods to produce repeatable quality at low cost. While waging the battles focused on flexibility and reduced lot sizes, this ability to achieve efficiency is a historical compe­tence too precious to sacrifice. Another key is the Andersen quality definition of "different and better." This Quality philos­ophy affects our entire corporation; the people, the products and the programs.


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