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School Specialty, Inc. 

The People Side of Six Sigma


Greenville-based School Specialty, Inc. sees bottom line results from engaged work teams

This direct marketing company’s Six Sigma training resulted in improved distribution and reduced freight costs that saved the company more than $200,000 this year. Mike Killoren, vice president of Lean Transformation, advises, “Aligning associates on a specific goal improves the chances of success. These savings represent ‘hard’ dollar cost savings on our external carrier expenses. The benefit for our company is to reduce costs, maintain competitive pricing for our customers, and provide efficient, on-time product deliveries—all of which are especially important in this economic environment.”

Mike Killoren knows the value of Six Sigma techniques and philosophies and is demonstrating his leadership by modeling the way for other School Specialty associates. After facilitating his first Six Sigma Green Belt project, this executive enrolled in further training to prepare for the American Society for Quality’s Six Sigma Black Belt certification exam. Business/education partnerships, such as the one between FVTC’s Lean Performance Center and School Specialty, encourage this zest for lifelong learning.


Operation improvements based on lean principles start with people and employee support is critical. Creating change in an organization can use a variety of strategies but the most successful ones engage teams. By providing employees with the tools, techniques, and resources designed to enable change and drive results—with all employees participating in the process without fear of failure—business leaders use the best brainpower available and prepare the culture for sustained improvement.

The results achieved to date of the School Specialty Way, an initiative that builds internal capacity for applying lean and Six Sigma methodologies, has the company looking for more ways to collaborate. As a School Specialty Way partner, the FVTC Lean Performance Center last year provided state-supported, customized training and applied learning projects. Knowledge and skill gains, as well as substantial bottom-line impacts, provided the impetus for more state funding this year and an even more comprehensive training program in lean, Six Sigma, and other business disciplines.

Contact the Lean Performance Center to learn more. blairb@fvtc.edu or 920-237-6402



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   Maintained by:

   Casey Britten

   Last Modified:
   2/9/2010 1:33:16 PM