Skip to Main Content

Search NewsCenter

Top Stories

Focus on Workplace Training

Focus on Workplace Training

Fall 2009

Nov 13, 2009

Keep the Change

 

One Wisconsin firm used FVTC’s Lean Performance Center to save more than $500,000 per year—and get all of its 2,400 employees on the same page. 

 

 

About two years ago, School Specialty, a Greenville-based educational resource provider, decided it was time to “go lean.” With the help of a newly installed enterprise-wide business system, the company was ready to take full advantage of lean operational principles (which strive to boost bottom-line results through ongoing improvements to quality control, cost reduction, and operational efficiency). But it soon became apparent that the firm also needed to bring its 2,400 employees, or associates, up to speed if it was to fully realize the benefits of going lean.

“We worked with an outside consulting firm to help with the lean initiative rollout,” says Michael Killoren, School Specialty vice president. “We quickly realized, however, that we needed to provide training to help our associates understand the basic processes and principles of what we were trying to do, and to create a general level of ‘lean literacy’ throughout the organization.”

School Specialty is an educational resources industry leader, with 15 U.S. locations and two in Canada. It generates roughly $1 billion in annual sales to U.S. and Canadian pre-K-12 schools by providing everything from paper and pencils to desks and chairs to science curriculum programs and other specialized instructional materials. As such, it can take any number of approaches to lean training. But according to Killoren, the idea that made the most sense was to work with an organization that could address the unique needs of adult learners.

Enter Fox Valley Technical College’s Lean Performance Center (LPC). “We developed two courses for School Specialty,” says Cindy Wetzel, an LPC instructor. “One was an online E-lean course. The other was an on-site Lean/Six Sigma Green Belt training course.”

The LPC also secured a State of Wisconsin Workforce Advancement Training grant to support development of the new courses. More than 220 School Specialty associates have already taken the E-lean training course. 

Finding Value

The LPC helped design a number of other on-site activities, including rapid improvement events, for School Specialty. “We looked at overseas freight and the associated costs, and discovered that customers from Alaska and Hawaii weren’t being charged the right amount for shipping,” says Wetzel.

“The Green Belt training brings some of the decision-making to the work floor,” she adds. “When you put change strategies in the hands of people who do the work, you get tremendous buy-in and outstanding results.”

Killoren is pleased with the results. “Teaming up with the LPC turned out to be a great deal for us,” he says. “They gave us the training program we needed, and it felt good to support them and the local community.”

FVTC President's Blog

President Dr. Susan Mays Blog. From My Perspective

New This Week

Student & Alumni Spotlight

Student’s Design Skills Grab National Spotlight

Student’s Design Skills Grab National Spotlight

Aug 1, 2018

Recent grad Joan Watson captured a major award at the National Kitchen & Bath...

Dean’s List Announced

Dean’s List Announced

Jul 12, 2018

Fox Valley Technical College announced its latest Dean’s List.

Helping Wildlife Find New Homes

Helping Wildlife Find New Homes

May 25, 2018

Students in the Natural Resources program installed 12 custom-made birdhouses at Winagamie Golf...

Featured Videos

FVTC Social Media

Connect With Us banner

Spring 2018 Focus Magazine

Read the latest issue of Focus magazine, with features highlighting students, alumni & employers in Manufacturing, Business, IT and much more.

Spring 2018 Focus Magazine

Upcoming Events

24 Sep 2018

On Campus: UW Oshkosh

11 a.m. - 1 p.m. | Appleton Campus Commons

On Campus: UW Oshkosh

Thinking of transferring to UW Oshkosh?

24 Sep 2018

Speaker Series: Beth Erdman

6 p.m. | ​Appleton Public Safety Training Center

Speaker Series: Beth Erdman

Chemical Spill Response

25 Sep 2018

Automotive, Collision and Refinishing Job Fair

9 - 11 a.m. | J.J. Keller Transportation Center

Automotive, Collision and Refinishing Job Fair

Tuesday, September 25

25 Sep 2018

Diesel Job Fair

1 - 4 p.m. | J.J. Keller Transportation Center

Diesel Job Fair

Tuesday, September 25

26 Sep 2018

On Campus: UW-Green Bay

11 a.m. - 1 p.m. | Appleton Campus Commons

On Campus: UW-Green Bay

Thinking of transferring to UW-Green Bay?

27 Sep 2018

On Campus: UW-Platteville

Noon - 1 p.m. | Appleton Campus Commons

On Campus: UW-Platteville

Thinking of transferring to UW-Platteville?

 

Sign up for FVTC News & Events