How Lean Benefits Our Employees, Our Customers and Led KEP to Industry Leadership

The KEP Lean Journey 3-Part White Paper Series by Bob Oborn

Part 1: Our Lean Years are Our Best Years

Excerpted from Part 1 of a 3-part series by Bob Oborn, President of KEP

I’m not sure where KEP would be today if we hadn’t adopted Lean Manufacturing practices, eliminating waste and practicing continuous improvement.

I say this because I have witnessed suppliers who, for many reasons, were unwilling or unable to adopt processes that made them more efficient. They lost business. Laid off lots of people. Even went out of business.

However, because KEP adopted Lean process and culture – and stuck with it (that’s the key!) – we have a totally different way of doing business, externally and internally. In the past twelve years, our employees’ morale is higher, turnover is lower, and we have three facilities that are pristine showcases which sell confidence to our customers. Best of all, we have the means to keep prices competitive and consistent without killing our margin. Our customers know the value that KEP brings, so even when our prices go up, they can trust that we have done the work to keep waste out of their cost.

Part 2: Lean Creates a Culture of Success That Benefits Our Team and Customers

Excerpted from Part 2 of a 3-part series on the business benefits of Lean by Bob Oborn, President of KEP

KEP was challenged to contain costs and keep processes organized. I’d read about Lean Manufacturing in trade publications. With the encouragement of KEP’s then-president Murray Van Epp, I attended a 3-day seminar in Michigan that included tours of pristine factories that made my jaw drop. Everything was in place. It looked so efficient. I thought, if this is Lean, then I can’t wait to get started. This is exactly what KEP needs.

Part 3: Lean Benefits: Success in Community, Industry and Your Future

Excerpted from Part 3 of a 3-part series on the business benefits of Lean by Bob Oborn, President of KEP

Our adoption of Lean didn’t come easy. There were missteps. But I was committed – and if the commitment doesn’t start at the top and include everyone – Lean won’t happen.Persistence paid off. KEP became more efficient. We greatly reduced waste. Just as importantly, we changed our culture. Our employees now know they are not just encouraged, but expected to seize opportunities to improve KEP. This empowers our workers and gives them ownership in their jobs and ability to grow their careers.

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