Louisville Slugger – Deming Practices

photo of Louisville Slugger plant

In 2004 I was part of a group to put together a 2 1/2 Day seminar for the Deming Institute (recent seminar in Michigan). We held that meeting at the Louisville Slugger plant (see photo). It was a great experience. If you find yourself in the area they offer tours of the plant [the broken link was removed]. This article discusses the efforts at Louisville Slugger: The sweet spot [the broken link was removed]:

“You would have thought that in 123 years of making baseball bats we would have figured it all out,” says plant general manager Frank Stewart. “But as you well know, in the business of improvement, you are never there. It’s always, what can I do better? What can I improve today?”

Continual improvement is a critical practice to adopt as a standard practices (more of Deming’s 14 obligations of management). They moved production from a plant in New York to their headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Over the past six months, we have doubled our workforce,” says Stewart. “Half of our workforce averages 35 years on the job; the other half has six months.” In many respects, the new employees are starting at square one.

“Most of these people have never worked in a manufacturing facility before,” says Bob Hillerich. “We’ve had to provide a great deal of education about our business and processes. We’re also teaching them 5-S cleanliness techniques at the same time that we are teaching them the TPM system. It’s a lot to digest.”

In maintenance, Bob Hillerich has been focused on trying to retain the wealth of knowledge in his crew. “I’m terrified about Rouns leaving,” he says. “We know what his 44 years of experience brings to this plant. We are going to spend the next six months really picking his brain and documenting what he does.”

But on the other hand… “Having zero turnover is just as challenging,” says Bob Hillerich. “You have great people, but they have done it the same way for so long that it’s hard to convince them to really shake things up and push the envelope. In our case, we have had to embrace technology to a much greater extent. That’s been difficult for some.”

Related: Kentucky trip photos – Change to Survive: A Brand New Ball Game [the broken link was removed] (video by the producers of the Deming Library) – Deming’s Ideas at Markey’s Audio VisualFree, Perfect and Now (on Applying Deming’s ideas at Marshall IndustriesImprovement at UTCTransformation and Redesign at the White House Communications Agency

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