BECOMING THE GO-TO FOR 5S I still think about the aha moment I had 13 years ago when I learned about 5S. Like many of you, I was always thinking about efficiency but lacked a sustainable solution to meet our needs. We would address one thing, only to find that something else was holding us up. Learning about 5S was a game changer. I was a warehouse manager for a medical device manufacturer, and one day, I got an email from the higher-ups. Our company was looking for five people to volunteer for a lean manufacturing team. I had no idea what “lean” was, but hey, I thought, if they needed people for this, I’d be there. For eight weeks, the five of us met for training in different aspects of “lean.” A few weeks in, we got to the 5S principles. I’d always prided myself on having a really organized warehouse, but this — this was another level. The process- improvement principles really struck a chord with me. 5S addressed so many of the areas where productivity was taking a hit and the processes introduced solutions to areas where a lot of waste was happening. This can really improve our operations, I thought. Ready to learn how I could implement 5S at my warehouse, I raised my hand in the class. “Hey, HOWWE FOUND A SOLUTION
orders surrounded by kids’ toys until we moved to a bigger house with a larger room dedicated to orders. They took over my pool table, which didn’t get used for years. Don’t worry — I had plenty to keep me busy. Eventually, we moved into our own office space, and that’s where the 5S Store operates today. We no longer pack orders alongside PlayStations, but we have a pretty good time helping our customers implement customized 5S solutions. We enjoy taking production personnel from the aha moment of learning about 5S to the even more exciting sigh- of-relief moment when they realize there’s a support team out there to help them use it. Barbara and I put our all into making this happen with the help of our stellar team, and Lilly, our chihuahua, makes sure we all stay on task — and don’t leave any of our lunches behind.
this is really cool,” I told our trainer. “Where can I find the materials to do this here?” Unfortunately, she didn’t know of any resources that existed. Back in class, I pulled out my laptop and searched 5S — nothing. Granted, this was 13 years ago, and the internet wasn’t what it is today. Facebook didn’t even exist. But it was clear that those of us who would benefit the most from 5S wouldn’t have the time to implement it, and there didn’t seem to be any resources to help. Why was this? On a whim, I called my wife, Barbara. “Hey, I have an idea for something,” I told her. Barbara wasted no time taking my idea to the drawing board, booting up the PC on our kitchen counter, and learning how to build a website, the 5S Store was born. From there, we’ve never stopped creating 5S support services. We moved the computer into the kid’s playroom, and my mom joined us to help with invoices. Our inventory was stored in the playroom and the basement. We packed
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