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I would be the first to admit that I am not an expert in employee empowerment. I have observed some successes in our business and have seen just as many attempts at employee problem solving fail. The failures are often the best experiences to learn from and should be studied in at least as much detail as the successes.

About the Raymond Corporation

The Raymond Corporation is a small to medium sized manufacturing company that manufactures material han­dling equipment—specifically forklift trucks and vertical carousel storage systems. What could be called a smoke stack industry, Raymond has made forklift trucks an exciting and fun business once again. This success can and should be attributed to many aspects—our CEO (Ross Colquhoun) and his understanding of the market, innova­tion, capital expenditures, and management in general, but clearly the most important asset of any business is its employees—people. Raymond has, like many firms, been concentrating on teaching employees to identify opportuni­ties and break down barriers to growth and higher cus­tomer service levels.


My part in this team, most recently, is in aftermarket services. The Raymond facility in Syracuse, New York is responsible for Raymond's aftermarket parts business and has been able to increase the volume in the last three years—at the same time reducing the need for managers and reducing the number of people in the facility. I suppose there are lots of similar stories, possibly more impressive, but none-the-less, this story is one of success and one that is an example of what can be done when people are motivated to make improvements and see the rewards of their labors.

In 1991, we decided to get into the rebuild business. Electric motors are a main component of our (all electric) product line of lift trucks. We had always let the rebuild business go to others in the days when service was an easy market. We felt that we were destined to sell only new components—regardless of customer need. It was this rebuild business (once we decided to get into it) that was chosen as a great opportunity to try the team approach and to let employees control their own destiny and accordingly, the growth and health of this new venture. Traditional management is virtually nonexistent in this department. This new philosophy is working very well. I would like to focus on this rebuild team in the first part of this presentation. Additionally, I will deal with our pursuit of DRP Class "A" and the issues that surround that implementation.

The Motor Shop

There are ten full time people in the motor shop now. This team has developed a system for identifying issues and opportunities, finding solutions for the issues and planning

the implementation of the opportunities, many of which are new products. The team works much like a business within a business. Much of the spirit that can be observed would be similar to an employee owned business with entrepreneurial motivations driving their efforts. Their solutions are often simple and these resolutions are seldom slow in coming. Here is how they function.

To be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 02


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