Case Study: How Japanese Kaizen Improved Efficiency and Increased Capacity

The Japanese term Kaizen translates literally as change (“kai”) for good (“zen”). As a personal philosophy, it focuses on improvement throughout all aspects of life.  As a managerial philosophy, Kaizen encourages continuous learning and improvement. When implemented with Lean Six Sigma processes, ongoing Kaizen improvements create a compounding effect.

To enhance the company’s Lean Six Sigma efficiency initiative, Premier Fixtures CEO Richard Jackson empowered COO Craig Bower to introduce the Kaizen program company-wide, encompassing all manufacturing locations and divisions across the country. Having worked together implementing Kaizen principles in the past, Richard and Craig know very well how this Japanese philosophy can impact an organization.

As Craig puts it, “We are vigorously applying common sense.” As an example, he points to the many tasks we rush to accomplish every day – that we can think about them in terms of how to remove barriers, and then plan a more efficient way to do it. “It seems a lot of times when we walk through the door at work we make things complex, or just make them harder than they should be, where the better approach is making something simple using common sense,” he says.

Everyone involved agrees that this new initiative has already brought increased capacity and streamlined work systems, as well as vastly improved social structures within the quickly growing organization.

Because Kaizen goes way beyond process improvement by tapping into workplace psychology, it not only eliminates steps that lead to fatigue over the course of a work shift, but can also improve the ergonomics of routine and repetitive tasks (also reducing fatigue), and it teaches people how to spot opportunities for improvement – empowering them to devise the solution to process problems that are often overlooked.

Premier’s introductory event, which took place Nov. 6-10, went even further. Billed as a “CEO Kaizen Event,” it featured CEO Richard Jackson traveling to Richmond, Va., to work as a team member on the factory floor. “What’s great about Richard is that here we are running the Kaizens with our teams, and he’s a member of one of the teams,” Craig says. “So he’s out there in blue jeans and he’s moving stuff and cleaning stuff – you know, getting things set up, timing and all that.” For any naysayers or those reluctant to change, he notes that “They see he’s taking time out of his week to do this, because he believes in it. He’s making a statement that he’s not too busy … that actually he’s too busy NOT to do this.”

Richard confirms this. “Really, this has to be a company-wide thing. And for it to truly be company-wide, it has to come from the top. So we set this up as the CEO Kaizen, to really show my commitment – that this is not just a way, it’s the way, for the company.” He adds, “We don’t have a choice; we have to commit to this, because without this we’ll be reacting, rather than setting the standard and driving the agenda. So for me, by giving up my normal worktime for the week, I’m showing everyone that the most important thing is that we commit to this.”

Richard was accompanied by a leadership team including Jeremy Conlon, Head of Engineering, and Michael Lachman, Head of Account Management, both based at the Hauppauge, NY, facility. This executive-level involvement super-charged the week-long event, forging closer relationships and providing both workers and management with new insights and understanding of the others’ workday tasks.

“It’s provided real ‘a-ha!’ moments,” Jeremy says, “to see their challenges and where we can make simple changes to increase efficiency and capacity.”

“Increasing efficiency will reduce cost, and increasing capacity will reduce time to market – which our clients will certainly appreciate!” Michael added.

CEO Richard’s well-spoken summary: “One of the most important thing about Kaizen is that it really is an opportunity for a company to shape its own destiny, rather than become the victim of external forces.”

About Premier Fixtures 

Premier Fixtures has over 40 years’ experience as a proven industry leader, building custom retail environments that influence outcomes.  With 3 million square feet of production and warehousing facilities worldwide, they offer state-of-the-art technology and innovative turn-key solutions, from design through implementation. Premier serves leading brands across a wide range of industries, including grocery, hospitality, athletic apparel, food service, retail and technology. Their years of service with many of the country’s leading brands, and their remarkable degree of customer loyalty, are testaments to the effectiveness of their business solutions. They offer sustainable material options, design, engineering, prototyping, project management, logistics, distribution, inventory control, installation and ongoing fulfillment. Having experienced substantial growth over the last decade, Premier ranks among one of the largest fixture providers in North America. For more information, visit Premierfixtures.com.

 

Premier Fixtures names Robert Bomholt Sr. Vice President of Business Development – Hospitality Sector

For over 40 years, Premier Fixtures has been an industry leading supplier of state-of-the-art fixtures, going beyond all of our clients’ needs. It was also just this year that Premier was awarded a place on the INC. 5000 list, which was the icing on the cake of another incredible year for the company.      

When the opportunity arose to bring on Robert Bomholt as our Senior Vice President of Business Development in the Hospitality Sector, there was a clear opportunity to further our growth into different industries. His past work clearly identifies him as a valuable player to continue Premier’s path of success.

Bomholt has a long track record of driving business growth, market position, operational efficiencies and Continue reading

A Milestone On The Way To The Top!

Being awarded a spot on the Inc. 5000 List, has compelled Premier Fixtures to continue our efforts as well as strive for new breakthroughs. This honor helps boost employee morale and validates that we are growing in the right direction! Having our company name on this list is a great testament to everyone included in making all our accomplishments possible.

Our team is proud to use our skills, experience and modern technology to be an integral part in helping numerous regional and national clients turn their creative ideas into successful business opportunities.

Premier Fixtures is a recognized leader in our industry and ranks among one of the largest fixture providers in North America.  We’ve experienced substantial growth over the last decade, and have already established plans for continued expansion; which is a large part of why we are so grateful to be recognized on this years Inc. 5000 list.

We have hit a milestone and are on our way to achieving our goals. Premier is truly excited to continue to transform visions into realities!

Premier Fixtures Makes The Inc. Magazine 2017 List!

We at Premier are excited and honored to announce that we have been named an Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Company, and are being acknowledged for all of our hard work.

Inc. Magazine’s List is one of the most prestigious awards in business. It features some of the fastest-growing private companies in America, recognizing and honoring their success.

This award identifies the rapid development in certain private firms in America, which are always creating. Creating companies, creating values and creating jobs.

Inc. Magazine’s list gives readers a deeper and richer understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape and captures a broad spectrum of success. It provides exposure in national, local and industry media, giving each recipient their own profile on Inc.com.

Check out the companies, including Premier Fixtures, who have creatively driven to the top of this year’s Inc. 5000 List:  Click here!


Be sure to stay tuned for more information on the many accolades Premier has proudly achieved, as well as more about our growing presence in the industry.

 

 

It’s Time To Spill The Beans About Seattle’s Longtime Affair With Coffee

As it turns out, the secret actually lies in the beans. The first sparks of this passionate and heavily caffeinated relationship dates back over 60 years to the youthful counterculture of the 50’s and early 60’s. From Greenwich Village to the west coast— smoke-filled, coffee-saturated, beatnik-packed clubs were inundated with rebellious youth who, according to Seattle historian Walt Crowley was about making a statement. “You weren’t hanging out at Dick’s or Burger Master with the muscle-car guys after the football game, or at the soda fountain like the glee club. It was about rebelling, and smoking, with eclectic, potentially dangerous people.” In Seattle, the first of these popular coffee houses to open its doors was the “Café Encore” in 1958.

Throughout the 60’s, thousands of baby boomers enrolled at the University of Washington— continually packing these coffee houses along “The Ave.”— listening to music, protesting the establishment, and drinking java. Down the coast in Berkeley, California, a coffee importer, named Alfred Peet, recognized the skyrocketing potential of these hangouts as a respite for disaffected baby boomers. He opened Peet’s Coffee & Tea in 1966. Meanwhile, back in Seattle Peet’s buddy, Zev Siegel and two other former Seattle college students were starting a fledging roasting business. Driven by a passion to create exceptional coffee, and in need of a local source for high-quality, imported beans, Siegel convinced Peet to sell them his magic coffee beans. This startup… became Starbucks, which opened its doors in 1970. Zev Siegel left the business in the early 80’s as the largest roaster in Washington State.

Howard Shultz, Starbucks’ recently retired, and influential, CEO came onboard in 1982, and had the incredible insight to recognize that latte, espresso and cappuccino was the wave of coffee’s future. The rest, as they say… is history. Starbucks, its iconic mermaid, and the city of Seattle are forever linked. While the weather in the northwest can often be cold, damp and unforgiving, coffee is a warm and welcomed elixir. As Joshua Boyt, from Victoria Coffee Roasters, perfectly phrased it, “coffee is our liquid sunshine in Seattle.” This city provided a cradle for coffee to take off in the 1970s and 1980s — given the right climate of expertise, consumer interest, business acumen, and… of course… the perfect beans.

The familiar Starbucks brand is a globally recognized presence. Premier Fixtures, and Synsor Corporation, are proud to play a role in the promotional advancement of the Starbucks name— exhibited by the sleek kiosk design created by the Company’s talented engineering, and production teams. The recent merger of Synsor and Premier Fixtures incorporates 45 years of display-marketing expertise— in a diverse range of markets and industries. The combined talents of these industry giants offers tremendous strategic insight, and brings a dynamic, coast-to-coast advantage to Premier’s growing family of high-profile, consumer brands.

Virtual or Reality?

If it can be imagined, it can be created. Virtual design allows us to experience tomorrow in today’s reality— using advanced 3D-design software that can create an artificial environment that suspends believability, and allows us to accept it as real. An engineer’s mission is to transform a client’s vision into a living, breathing design. Virtual reality walk-throughs enable designers, and marketers, to better understand how a space will look, function, and operate.

Virtual reality walk-throughs provide designers, and their clients, with a better understanding of how a space will look, function, and operate. Today, advanced, full-scale 3D visualizations are a step above blueprints, animations, and fly-throughs— allowing structural engineers, and clients, to explore the layout in a 1:1 scale, make changes in real-time, reduce project costs and improve workflow efficiency. Equally important… within this virtual world… clients interact with a proposed layout intuitively, asking questions and recommending changes.

Naturally, collaboration and understanding at this level translates into a competitive advantage for display firms— because clients are more likely to partner with designers who utilize cutting-edge visualization technology— and enable them to clearly realize the impact of their retail installations. A single picture can contain a wealth of information, and can be processed much more quickly than a comparable page of words. In addition, fixture-display production is applying these virtual design advancements, in tandem with improving 3D printing technologies, to produce faster, and more accurate prototypes, as well as pre-fab parts for assembly.

Take the restaurant retailer, Jamba Juice, with over 800 locations worldwide. They were able to launch a fresh, modern and updated brand look and feel for new and existing stores and kiosks— using virtual review to evolve, and coordinate their design makeover before production. Virtual design gave them the vision and the tools to align their legacy store designs with a new, refreshed brand experience— and Synsor Corp. was at their side.

Synsor, a dynamic trendsetter in the field of commercial retail display, and brand application, was proud to collaborate with Jamba Juice in the development, engineering, manufacture, installation, and operational upgrades throughout their vast number of retail shops. The recent merger of Synsor and Premier Fixtures incorporates 45 years of display-marketing expertise— in a diverse range of markets and industries. The combined talents of these industry giants offers tremendous strategic insight, and brings a dynamic, coast-to-coast advantage to Premier’s growing family of high-profile, consumer brands.

Traveling To The North Pole Is Easier And Faster Than Hitching A Sleigh Ride With Santa

Once, only accessible by a reindeer-powered, elf-navigated, oversized sleigh, access to Santa’s workshop has been greatly streamlined by commercial jet travel. For nearly 70 years, North Pole, Alaska— not far from Fairbanks— has been the home, and hideaway, for the Claus clan, their family of mischievous elves, and, of course, the most famous team of reindeer on the planet. When Con and Nellie Miller opened the doors of Santa Claus House in 1949, assumed the roles of Christmas’s favorite couple, and rolled out the red carpet to children from all over the world, the traffic has been non-stop year round. After all, where else can you schmooze with Donder and Blitzen, treat yourself to an ornament emblazoned with “North Pole, Alaska,” or sip a hot, peppermint cocoa in the company of the one-and-only Kris Kringle?

By the time Santa Claus House was refurbished, and modernized, in the mid-70’s it had achieved its rightful designation as Santa’s official North Pole residence. Every year, Horizon/Alaska Airlines, the official North Pole carrier, fulfills the wishes and dreams for groups of seriously ill, and/or disadvantaged, children whose hope is to personally meet the bona fide Santa— and hand deliver their Holiday wish lists in this magical place where Christmas dreams become reality. From cities around the country, Alaska Airlines fills their cabins with wide-eyed kids, family members, and an entourage of Santa’s elves destined for a trip of a lifetime.

Currently, airport travelers flying Alaskan Airlines are pleasantly surprised by the carrier’s newly adapted, and streamlined, check-in procedures. This time-and-space-saving, two-step process begins either at home, where the passenger checks-in on line and prints out the boarding pass, or does the same at the airport using an Instant Travel Machine (ITM). In the second step, the passenger takes the boarding pass to the nearby bag check location where the agent scans in the boarding pass, prints the luggage tags and attaches the tags to the passenger’s luggage. The passenger then heads off to security.

Synsor Corp., a dynamic trendsetter in the field of commercial retail display, and brand application, was proud to collaborate with Alaska Airlines in the development, engineering, and implementation, of the customized, interactive installations required for this program. The recent merger of Synsor and Premier Fixtures incorporates 45 years of display-marketing expertise— in a diverse range of markets and industries. The combined talents of these industry giants offers tremendous strategic insight, and brings a dynamic, coast-to-coast advantage to Premier’s growing family of high-profile, consumer brands.

A Premier Founder, Nelson Goodman, Receives New Title

Nelson Goodman, founder of Premier, has been appointed Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of Premier. Mr. Goodman will remain fully engaged with his current day-to-day responsibility of ensuring that the expectations of all Premier clients are met and exceeded.

On top of these responsibilities, Mr. Goodman has agreed to take primary responsibility for establishing the vision for Premier’s future and collaborating with the Premier executive team to make it a reality. This will include identifying opportunities to expand capabilities and address un-served markets.

Mr. Goodman’s knowledge of the fixture industry and his appreciation of the needs of Premier’s clients is invaluable to Premier. Mr. Goodman is also a member of Premier’s Board of Managers.

Nelson Goodman’s Excitement Towards Premier’s Acquisition

Premier Fixtures was proud to announce their acquisition of Synsor Corporation. Nelson Goodman, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer, and a founder of Premier commented:

“This is a remarkable time to be part of Premier. Over the last 17 years we have built Premier upon our commitment to provide outstanding service to our clients. The combination of Synsor with Premier, and the additions of Richard, Joel and Ange to our leadership team, will enable Premier to continue to meet and exceed the needs of our clients as they grow and evolve. We are tremendously grateful to the clients of Premier and Synsor, and to the 450 associates within our combined organization, that have put us in position to take these important steps.”

Strengthening Our Commitment To Enhancing Our Sustainable Practices

 

Working leaner is making a difference for Premier’s customers.
Going greener is shrinking our carbon footprint for everyone.

With Earth Day this past weekend, Premier strengthens our commitment to enhancing our green image.  For the management and workforce at Premier Fixtures, there’s no denying the correlation between a “lean” manufacturing operation and a “green” manufacturing operation.  Premier is working towards a far more stringent, streamlined, and cost-efficient process.  The connections linking wasted time and procedures with wasted energy and resources are unmistakable.

Premier has instituted a program of efficiency initiatives within the workplace.  This 5S program quickly motivated the entire workforce to save time, eliminate wasted energy, enhance product quality, and take satisfaction in a job well done. The principle of “lean manufacturing” has been fully embraced throughout the operation, and is moving on to phase 2 – our streamlining initiative.  Logistics and inventory are the touch points, and in terms of inventory waste elimination, sustainability has become a major priority for Premier.

Premier has also instituted logistical benchmarks that are dramatically improving procedural efficiency.  A lean operation directly translates into employees spending fewer productive minutes waiting, storing, and needlessly moving about.  By saving employee energy, we’re saving natural energy— also good for the environment… as well as the cost of doing business.

In addition to the company’s long-term commitment to the structured initiatives laid out in the 5S program, Premier executives have instituted additional sustainability practices that go above and beyond “lean manufacturing” procedures. Premier warehouses have now been equipped with energy-saving lighting sensors, and companywide recycling programs have been mandated for metals, cardboard, pallets and paints.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Premier’s sustainability efforts, has been the adoption, application and use of formaldehyde-free fiber boards, post-consumer metals, bi-degradable printing surfaces, and non-VOC inks, sprays and coatings— cost-efficient and environmentally-compliant building materials that are growing in popularity, and shrinking our carbon footprint.

Just another way Premier is making a difference.