Mead Lumber Truss Craft
Jeff Taake, vice president manufacturing and commercial sales, Mead Lumber; Lewis Schelkopf, plant manager, Truss Craft
A desire to achieve operational excellence, increase sustainability, return value to our employee owners, give back to the community, and heighten our customers’ experiences has fueled an active partnership between the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) and Truss Craft Structural Components, Mead Lumber Company’s component manufacturing facility in Grand Island.
In addition to Truss Craft’s plant manager enrolling in NBDC’s Lean Enterprise Certificate program, the company volunteered to host one of the program classes at the Grand Island plant. Four Truss Craft employees and the plant manager participated in the two-day Value Stream Mapping class.
“This class was an eye-opening experience for our employees, as each became part of a team made up of individuals in leadership roles at other nearby companies,” says Jeff Taake, vice president of manufacturing and commercial sales, regional manager at Mead Lumber. “They benefitted tremendously from listening to the questions and ideas from the other companies, while at the same time using actual lean thinking tools.”
NBDC Lean consultant Renee Held says the manager and employees of Truss Craft display a “spirit of entrepreneurship” that embodies the mission of NBDC.
“The Truss Craft participants were willing partners in this workshop to recognize ways to improve processes and services to their customers,” Held says. “This led to a three-day Kaizen process improvement event at the company. The Truss Craft team members were able to recognize ways to improve their operations, and ultimately make these improvements to serve their customers’ diverse product requirements.”
Held says the ultimate display of entrepreneurship came in the form of allowing the NBDC team to present the findings of the three-day Kaizen event during a Building Component Manufacturing Conference last October in Omaha. This presentation shared with the nearly 200 attendees the story of the ways Truss Craft was able to improve its operations.
Taake says Mead Lumber “wants the continuous improvement culture to become part of our DNA. We will continue to send key associates through the Lean Enterprise Certification program, while at the same time hosting our own Kaizen events.”
Part of the company’s commitment to the community is to work to limit its waste stream, and to educate customers regarding building products that will reduce waste and energy consumption.
“We currently recycle cardboard, wood, aluminum, and metal as best as we can,” Taake says. “At Truss Craft and our other component manufacturing plants, we continue to invest in linear saws that increase the yield and reduce the waste from each piece of lumber.”
Mead Lumber not only encourages these best practices in other area businesses, it also gives back to the communities it serves. From Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts, to Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, and United Way, along with many other local, regional and national foundations and organizations, Mead Lumber supports programs by providing materials, money, and manpower.
“Embracing the continuous improvement culture will harness the knowledge and experiences of our employee owners, and focus us on driving value to our customers,” Taake says. “The NBDC and its consultants will be with us on that journey.”