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September 07 Businessexcellence 39 less estimators than we had two years ago, two less project engineers, and we have eliminated the engineering clerk’s position while at the same time improving our speed to market by 67 percent and experiencing an 86 percent increase in revenue workflow.” MEC estimates it saved 3,500 engineering work hours in 2006 alone. Company sales have gone from $40.3 million in 2004 to $90.14 million in 2006, and are expected to exceed $100 million in 2007. “Getting our office lean is allowing growth to occur while at the same time reducing our indirect costs in our estimating and engineering areas,” Verbos continues. “I am personally very proud of the efforts and attitudes of our sales, estimating, engineering and IT team in working together to embrace the lean process, to proactively seek cross training and provide input to improve the process throughout the value stream mapping activity.” Through June of 2007, almost 3,000 jobs had been quoted, netting the company $70 million more in potential new work than during the same time frame in 2006, and the company realized an increase of 28 percent in new work generated. “We’re seeing new work come in at a greater rate and we’re launching it more quickly,” says Verbos. MEC chairman, president and CEO Robert Kamphuis says speed is a key differentiator for his company, which increasingly competes with lower-cost overseas suppliers. By being able to turn work around faster, MEC can meet the needs of its customers and become more of a partner than a supplier. “Our customer base will continue to outsource their non-core competencies or things they believe can be done better by someone other than their own companies, and they’ll continue to consolidate their supply base,” says Kamphuis. “They don’t want to work with a lot of different companies; they want to work with a few who can offer them seamless production planning capabilities as well as good quality, delivered on time at a reasonable cost. Our customers are looking for strategic suppliers.” Mayville has also focused on improving the way it handles the two million pounds of material (50 truckloads) that it processes each month. Eager to reduce work-in-progress and raw materials being stored, the company worked with its supplier base to build a trigger release system that calls for bundles of raw materials and parts to be brought directly into manufacturing cells when triggered by operators in the work cells themselves. In the laser department, MEC has boosted material turnover to three turns per week. Elsewhere, technology has played a role in enabling MEC to grow smart, with investments in robotics (including a 14-foot dual-arm Genesis welding machine that can do the work of 13 manual welders) among the many capital improvements made to the company’s 350,000- square-foot plant. Kamphuis believes that MEC is unique because of its employee ownership model, which provides built-in incentives for employees to drive cost savings, boost output and stay focused. “At the end of the day, any improvement means more money in their pocket or better savings opportunities toward their retirements.” Customers including major manufacturers like John Deere, Harley- Davidson, and Kohler demand rapid response, lending an air of urgency to the company’s work that Kamphuis believes contributes to higher output, too. As the current growth continues, MEC will continue to apply lessons learned from its last downturn. “With quick response built on lean practices, not only can you survive through a downturn, but you can actually flourish in this environment,” says Verbos. “Throughout our organization employees have embraced the idea that we need to continually get better, day to day, week to week and over the long term.” Mayville Engineering “I am personally very proud of the efforts and attitudes of our sales, estimating, engineering and IT team in working together to embrace the lean process”