“In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy.” J. Paul Getty, American Industrialist.
As mentioned in previous articles, there have been many changes taking place at Banner Metals Group. Previously, we have focused on the physical changes and remodels, the new company name and website, and new equipment. Now, Banner is experiencing a different kind of change, much of which is a direct result of all the previous improvements.
Banner sales are projected to grow 65% in 2012 and an additional 23% in 2013. With all this new business, Banner management felt an unsurprising, though well-deserved, sense of accomplishment. It wasn’t long however, before the reality of the situation became apparent.
That 88% growth means many new employees – approximately a 43% increase in personnel. Those new employees need to be recruited and trained. We will need to increase our production capacity, buy new machines, and decide where to put them. We will need an accurately detailed plan, with input from every manager and every department.
Bronson Jones, Banner VP and General Manager, realized this planning would have to be accomplished outside the normal office environment, with its constant distractions. He planned what he called a “Managers Retreat”, where the ten member management team met outside the office, in a place specifically designed to encourage creative thinking and power planning.
Every Friday for several weeks in a row, the management team met to map out their plan. Regarding these meetings, Banner President and CEO John E. O’Brien III states, “I not only believe that the management retreats are effective for us, but they are a necessity for Banner. With all of the new business coming in 2012, and all of the new employees as well, we must take the time to properly plan, or we will fail ourselves and our customers. This retreat allowed us to give this planning all of our attention, without distractions.”
“Ideas and action items were written on paper and not just mentioned then forgotten. We were able to work through an entire plan without quitting a couple of hours into, and hoping to return at a later date,” stated Don Fisher, Senior Engineer
The one thing that became most obvious during these planning sessions was: we would not be able to do things the way we had in the past. Several welders, as well as additional stamping equipment, have been ordered. New positions were developed, and the number of new people necessary in each department was determined. We need additional forklifts and racks, and we are extending the existing building as much as possible.
Production Manager Ed Berry said, “When I went to a Lean event last month, they were having some of the growth issues we are, but did not have a plan on what to do with space, equipment or people. It felt good to know we are planning ahead”.