Monday, October 27, 2008

survival steps

at todays staff meeting we talked about how kidder blaisdell is going to survive if the economy really slows down in the next three business quarters. I certainly don't know what is going to happen with the economy, but I want a plan if things get bad. I feel like I should share my plan with the staff.

Step one: regulate hours available to work. By controlling the amount of over-time hours that an employee can work we can reduce our biggest expense, payroll. Now, each person is only allowed to work 10 hours over time each week. Our next step would be to cut out OT completely, Then to reduce hours down to 32 per week per person, then to ask for volunteers to take time off.

Step two: continue to build the cash reserve account. Now we automatically save 2.5% of all sales.

step three: to try and get to a COD basis with all of our suppliers. Currently we pay cash with a few of our suppliers, and it really helps us to buy only what we need and to pay closer attention to how much and how often we buy. What happens is we spend like crazy for a month fall behind with the vendor go a month with-out purchasing, then pay extra fees, and the cycle starts again.

step four: Do more with existing assets. This is where the kaizen events come in. To continue to try and improve our system of doing things. Good systems with decent machines out perform bad systems with the best machinery. We are all going to have to do more with less.

If the economy continues like this or gets worse I want to learn as much as possible from the experience. It may be difficult but it won't put us out on the street. With an aggressive strategy in place we can actually come out a better company ready to handle adversity now and in the future.

We started to install 77. We have started at the top and are working down, on this job. I think this is going to be a very good move, one of things that always happens is that we start the install at the floor and when we get to the ceiling we realize that we have misaligned something and it is to late to fix. And the ceiling line is the focus, people tend not to look at where the cabinet meets the floor.


Monday, October 20, 2008

More on kaizen

When ever I see pictures of other shops or get the chance to walk through another shop, one of things I am looking at is how there tools are stored. Even the smallest improvement in tool storage can have big impacts on productivity. This is how we now store our saw blades and table saw accessories. This table saw is very common in everyones shop, just a standard cabinet saw with the 50" fence. I had been wanting to build this cabinet for years, so I have had lots of time to think about it.

We figured that saw blades have two main categories, in and out. All out going blades meaning going to the sharpening shop, in are case Atlantic Carbide great business in Somerville. The in bound blades then get categorized by machine and purpose. The drawers are for blade changing tools and safety tools. This particular saw is in the center of our shop, and now will also store all the table saw blades for the whole shop. You can see that the drawers are more like pull out trays with a specific location for everything. The theory here is that everything has it place and everything is in its place.

What's best about this cabinet is that it is the result of a Kaizen event that we had on Saterday afternoon. It was difficult to get the event going, it is hard to motivate guys to get into the event. The events start out by us talking about the problem we want to improve. We are a quiet bunch, creative types and introverted. It is the kaizen events leader to get the conversation going. I think that is the stumbling point, and what we need to overcome to improve our events.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

kaizen event today

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

staff meeting

tomorrow's staff meeting. tomorrow morning we will take a look together at the goals for the week. What do we have to accomplish, what is urgent vs. what do we only need to maintain. The staff meeting hand outs also doubles as the time sheet has changed significantly over the years of use. IT started out pretty simple, it has become something very powerful. It has become the main flow of information in the shop, both inbound and outbound information. Everyone has the same goal sheet, and they are expected to have it with them at all times, so they can at a glance see who is doing what and who may need help to get their tasks done. It primarily spells out who is to do what in the upcoming six days. I am trying to change that, I don't want to have to spell out who does what on a constant basis, rather I want to spell out team goals. With the theory being that each person knows what his strengths are and also knows what is expected of them, knows what others weakness are. By knowing what the team goals are they can focus on what their contributions are to the team.

The effective work group doesn't need individual direction, but instead group goals, and the members of the group just know what needs to be done, and they help each other. So on the goal sheets and the staff meetings we are focusing more on group goals and less on individual goals. How the team is performing as a whole is what we talk about at the staff meeting.


the glue up

This is that part that I was glueing up earlier. It has turned into an exterior roof top bench.
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nice cabinet

Here is a very sharp little cabinet. This style of cabinetry is being used as a basement kitchen. It is one of the nicer designs that I have seen as far as tradtional cabinetry goes. We have sprayed this with two coats of primer, and now are preparing to ship it out, the client will do the install on this job, as well as the finish. The client is one of the most prestigious builders in the greater Boston metro area. They had thier own person make their shop drawings which is what we use to build the cabinets.
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