Wins And Challenges In Lean MFG With Toby Curry

Wins And Challenges In Lean MFG With Toby Curry

by Patrick Adams | Apr 18, 2023

In this episode, Toby Curry and I discuss lean process implementation in an organization as well as factors that can contribute to failure in a lean practice system.

What You’ll Learn:

  1. Can you give us some background on who you are and some of your work experience?
  2. Lean manufacturing practices have been around for decades. Throughout the life of Lean Practices, the demand for these skills and practices has been cyclical. Why do you feel there is or should be a heightened awareness or attraction to Lean practices in today’s climate?
  3. Can you give us an example of a lean process implementation that your organization has benefited from?
  4. What do you feel is the largest factor that contributes to failed lean initiatives in manufacturing facility?
  5. If you could go back now and impart some wisdom to yourself before you started practicing lean initiatives, what would it be?

About the Guest:

oby Curry serves as the director of operations for Coastal Automotive, a Tier-1 global automotive safety component manufacturer, where he is responsible for operational P&L, continuous improvement, production, logistics and quality. Toby has spent over 20 years in the automotive manufacturing industry, with 10 of those years in executive leadership. He’s passionate about making a positive difference for customers, community, and employees through building a great workplace culture. A US Navy Submarine Veteran, prior to joining Coastal, Toby served in various roles including process engineering, continuous improvement, and production supervision. He earned his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Grand Valley State University and a certificate in executive management from the University of Notre Dame.


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Patrick Adams  00:00

Hello everybody and welcome to the Lean solutions podcast. My guest today is Toby curry. Toby serves as the Director of Operations for coastal automotive, a tier one global automotive safety component manufacturer, where he is responsible for operational p&l, continuous improvement, production, logistics, and quality. Toby spent over 20 years in the automotive industry with 10 of those years in executive leadership. He’s passionate about making a positive difference for customers, community and employees through building a great workplace culture. And I’ve worked work hand in hand with Toby and I can stand behind every single word in that sentence that he definitely stands behind that. But I think the best part, my most favorite part of introducing Toby is the fact that he was a US Navy submarine veteran. Prior to joining costal Toby served in various roles, including process engineering, continuous improvement, and production supervision. So welcome to the show, Toby. 


Toby Curry  01:30

Awesome. Thank you for the introduction, Patrick, really excited to be here. 


Patrick Adams  01:34

Absolutely. And thank you for your service. Yeah, for sure. So there’s a lot of people that are listening right now who have no idea who you are as an operations manager, and, and, you know, maybe, obviously, some of your military background and things. But we would like to know a little bit more about you, do you mind giving our listeners just a little bit of some of your background? Who you are, you know, some of your work experience? And we can start there?


Toby Curry  01:59

Yeah, absolutely. So again, thank you for having me on. I’m an Iowa native. After I got out of high school, I immediately said, you know, I had this drive to want to serve my country, that was paramount to me. And I wanted to do something that was now I’ll call it abnormal, and submarines fit that bill perfectly. So I was a West Coast sailor stationed at Pearl Harbor, I was a sonar technician and a diver and absolutely loved my time in the service that paved the way into a college for me that college was Grand Valley State University where I got my bachelor in mechanical engineering. And out of the gate, I immediately went into the automotive service. As a process engineer, spent a few years doing that gig for a little bit and was asked, Hey, I think that you do well into an operations role. And I had seen a lot of, I’d seen a lot of leadership in my time as a process engineer. And I know a lot of the guys that are in maintenance process engineers, they’re problem solvers out on the production floor. And a lot of times the employees confide in them about hey, this leader, this this leader, that and I thought, you know, I really love working with the people. And I think I could, I’ve seen a lot of poor leaders. And I think that I’d like to try my hand at that. And, and it was recommended that I go into that role by my mentor. And that’s what brought me into automotive leadership. And I’ve been there ever since I was fortunate enough to go to Mendoza, College of Business, which is the side arm of Notre Dame University for the executive leadership certificate, which was a fantastic experience. And yeah, worked at a few very large automotive supplier companies. And then I found coastal automotive, much smaller footprint, private. And I’m having a great time here. 


Patrick Adams  03:53

Yeah, and I love what you guys do. It’s really interesting. When you when you think about the end customer and what you guys are doing at Kostal, can you just tell us just give us a kind of a brief synopsis of what you guys do at Kostal? And who your end customers are? I don’t know, as much as you can share. I know some of that you can’t share, but whatever is is available to fill us in. 


Toby Curry  04:16

Yeah, absolutely. So we are, we are a passive safety provider for every major OEM in the globe. So we supply both tier one direct to the OEMs. And we are a tier two supplier as well. If you see a vehicle on the highway, there is a very good chance that we’re in that vehicle somewhere. Our bread and butter is in the overhead of the vehicle as a Head Impact countermeasure. But we’re starting to diversify all over the interior of the vehicle. 


Patrick Adams  04:46

Yeah, yeah. And and obviously for not, not your your end customer, you know, multiple of the large automotive companies. But you guys, one of the cool things you guys do a little bit of work for you know racecars to it, right. 


Toby Curry  05:03

Yeah, absolutely. So NASCAR is always that big marketing draw for us. So we are on 100% of the NASCAR platforms. And then we also do other race products like nose cones and Indy cars, and in some SAFER barrier type activity. Yep. 


Patrick Adams  05:18

Yep, yep, for sure. That’s what I love that. And I know a lot of the team members that work for you also really enjoy, you know, just that, knowing what they’re providing. And again, we talk about connection to purpose, and just what you guys do from a safety perspective, when it comes to automotive and NASCAR and all these different things. So pretty amazing. Love, love hearing that. So let’s shift over to lean manufacturing. Right? So lean manufacturing practices have been around for decades, right? And, you know, there’s so many different industries now that you can go into outside of manufacturing, where Lean principles are being used. But, you know, why do you think that it’s lean practices, whether, you know, whether it’s in manufacturing, specifically or even outside of why do you think that lean practices, you know, should be something that’s, that’s being utilized by by everyone or by by industries? You know, again, manufacturing, we’re outside of manufacturing, why is it important? 


Toby Curry  06:20

So, I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to work for a few organizations, big and small, that have started their lean initiative, some of those I’ve seen be really successful. And unfortunately, more often than not, they have become a flavor of the month or our flavor of the, in some cases, day, it feels like where there’s a big head of steam going into let’s do these lean practices. I think the big driver in my past has always been for financial gain. If we’re going to continue the voice of the company, if we’re going to continue to compete in this marketplace, we need to do more with less. One of the things that I feel is really important with that’s driving the need for Lean right now is the competition in the market. So from a from a labor perspective, from a the global supply chain, and and all of the chaos that is ensued. Because of that. If you don’t have lean systems and lean practices in your organization, it’s like trying to swim upstream. There’s enough chaos coming down that river right now. Go with it. And I’m not saying go with the chaos, but you got to figure out a way to navigate those waters. If you don’t, you’re going to struggle. And competition is fierce out there in the world right now, especially from the labor side of it. I’m always a big advocate for do more with less. But I think that those things have to be done complete, strategically. So you can either you can either pursue lean objectives in this world that we live in today with chaos, or you can continue to struggle, and you can only struggle and try to swim upstream for so long before you drown. So, sure, yeah, that’s that’s such a good point. And when you say, when you say do more with less, can you expand on that just a little bit? Because I would say probably one of the feelings that I that some of the listeners may be thinking is, well, does that mean you just lay off your workforce, you know, lay off as many people as you can and just try to put everything on, you know, your best three or four people? And, you know, is that what you’re talking about? Or when you say do more with less, like, expand on that just a little bit? Yeah, absolutely. So I have been part of organizations that I firmly believe that the do more with less was yeah, we’re going to get lean. And basically, we’re going to line out every third name on the staffing roster. And we’ll call that our Lean do more with less. It ends up doing less with less is what ends up happening. It does not work. And I don’t advise anybody ever tried try that strategy. It’s not beneficial. One of the one of the biggest things that I push when it comes to lean, at least from my perspective is a company or organization cannot even begin to pursue lean practices until they have a solid foundation until they know exactly all of the chaos that’s going around all the vulnerabilities what are the quality things that can hurt you? What are the material things what’s the volatility with the customer and and and, and, and even best manufacturing practices. If you don’t understand that I highly urge people don’t start a big lean push. Those things are gonna rare up and just destroy, not destroyed, but they will just cause all kinds of headaches in that Lean journey. You’re going to have enough headaches in Lean journey. And I talked about this later about what it is to fail. Those are opportunities, those things are going to those things We’re going to come up in the lean, in your Lean journey, you really need to understand that you have, you need to develop a good foundation, with your manufacturing process quality systems, materials, all of that before you can even pursue lean implementation, but definitely the do more, the do more with less, that’s gonna come naturally, that’s how, you know, I mean, it’s not a task, that’s something that just happens naturally, you do more with less the results of, of developing and implementing a, or developing a true culture of continuous improvement, the results of that are, you know, those things will come the financial benefits that you know, the cultural benefits, those types of things. Yeah, absolutely. If you’re, if you’re trying to, at least from my experience, if you’re trying to force a Lean culture is not driven from an action item list. A Lean culture creates activities internally. It’s nothing wrong with having activity, you know, an open action item list. But that should not be the sole reason that’s driving action doubles those things, they should come up and they should be populated by the production floor, they should not be populated in an office setting, and hung up on a board somewhere and said, a team, did you get these things that that’s a recipe for disaster? Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, in thinking about coastal and your, your experience there, and what you what you guys have been doing over the last couple of years, can you give us an example of a lien process implementation that you that you’ve benefited from it, maybe it’s not at Coastal, it could be somewhere else too. But that just obviously came to mind. So any example where you know, lean process implementation that that you’ve been able to benefit from? Absolutely. So when I first started here at Kostal, it took me about three years before I even started down the Lean path. And that goes right back to what I originally said, I needed a good foundation. Within the three years that I started here, we moved our manufacturing operation from our Rochester Hills facility to the Holland location, that meant an entire new support staff from materials quality production, production employees, I basically had to start at Ground Zero, and I had to get that foundation. Once I had that Ready, Set COVID. So there was all kinds of chaos that happened as a result of that. And as the world exited from that pandemic, the automotive was introduced into the new pandemic that I’ll call the supply chain. That was all kinds of chaos. Coastal automotive has, we’re shipping out here about 1.1 to 1.2 million pieces per week. 900, and some odd different part numbers. That chaos that the supply chain created, really made our our customers forecast very volatile, it was super difficult to try to forecast, what are we going to run next. And when trying to you know, historically, we had a pretty good six week average, we can kind of see what’s going on, that kind of went away. And we were on a complete push system from the customer. And when you’re dealing with those types of volumes, and that diversity, in part numbers, that was a recipe for really bad things to happen. And we started down that path. That’s when I brought your team in, your team partnered up with my team here on the production floor. And we created our very first Kanban system. It was 12 part numbers out of all of the 900 and some. But those 12 part numbers were very large volumes. And for 30 days, your team worked right alongside my team here. And man, did we ever learn a lot about ourselves and Kanban and lean journeys? And the things that we do really well and the things that we didn’t do very well. Yeah. Fast forward to where we are now. We are running six full con bonds. 80% of our entire plant volume is now running on Kanban. I’ve got two additional con bonds in the in the mix. Yeah. And man, sometimes, you know, we’ve all been in those days where we’re like, it’s a gloomy day. And it just things aren’t going right. All I got to do is flashback to a year ago and go how in the world did we even do this? And so I’m super thankful that we are on the journey that we’re on. And again, now that’s becoming a foundational thing for us. And now we’re going to take it to the next level with the next Lean tools, whatever those may be. 


Patrick Adams  14:47

Yeah. And I want to I want to rewind here because there were a couple of things that you said that I think are key in in your Lean journey. The first thing that you said was and this was Prior to COVID, but you said we had to stabilize, you know, so you guys moved your entire operations from one facility to another. And I think that’s an important key point that you made that you didn’t just start changing? Well, it was a huge change anyways, but you had to allow some time for things to stabilize, before you went in and started to, to, you know, mess things up again, or change things or throw some new new things at the team. So I think that was really key. My question that I had with that was, how long did it take for you guys to feel like you were at least in a stable state after that trip after that move. 


Toby Curry  15:40

So one of the first things that I had to do was I had to put in some type of measuring stick, so I had to put in what I call a k a y. And that is basically a set of indicators that I use to measure productive productivity in the plant. And that had to happen first, because I can’t start to make any changes, until I can go back and look at the graphs and in the throughputs, and whatever and say, did that was that positive? Or was that negative? That was the first thing that had to happen. And then it was a lot of learning from from plant layouts, to just just onboarding of people. That was probably about a two year process. Before I felt that we were we were constantly improving things. The manufacturing process, whatever. It was about a two year before I felt okay, I think we’re starting to get the hang of this. And we can be a little bit nimble, we’ve learned a lot. So yeah, about two years. 


Patrick Adams  16:36

Okay. And then the other thing, you know, skip past COVID? Because that’s a whole I mean, we could talk about that forever, or no, you know, or not. But when you then the other thing that you said was prior to implementing a kanban system, you guys, you had a problem that you identified, and the problem was fairly significant. And you have this, you know, this problem in front of you, you identified it, you defined it. And then you started to, and I’ll say, experiment, because, because if you remember the first thing that that I challenged you with, when we started this was break the system, try to drink it, learn as much as you can, and you get and that’s exactly what you guys did. And you did, you worked as hard as you could to try to break what had been put in place, because we wanted the team to have the freedom to learn, and use things and adjust. That’s why we started with such a small scope, right? So walk us through that, and what that looked like to allow your team to experiment with this as they were learning something new. And you know, having the freedom to, to break it or to call, you know, call it failure, whatever you want to do, but to to learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can. What did that look like for you guys? 


Toby Curry  17:55

So I think it’s really important. At least it was for me, personally, I wanted to be involved with the production team, I did not want to stand on the sidelines and point and say, team do this team do that. I brought that team on board, I was one of the team members. And I was very vulnerable with that team, I don’t have all the answers. And there is a good likelihood that we may fall flat on our face. And I can’t tell you how many times we fell flat on our face. There were so many nights in here when me and that production team were in here at nine o’clock at night relabel in a stockroom. Because we put all of the same vehicle platform on one Kanban. And as soon as volume went up just a little bit, the Kanban blew up, you know, there were so many of those instances. We were just talking about this in the office today. Every time we launch a new Kanban we experience I’ll call them opportunities. And I look forward to them now because every time we solve one of those we are bigger, faster, stronger on every single one. We’ve created the 10 commandments of thou shalt do this and thou shalt not do that. I can’t even count how many commandments we have now. 10 is that? That’s that’s the First Age. Yeah, we’ve done it. We’ve done a whole lot of learning. And we’ve done a whole lot of failing at the same time. And it was important to note that the entire leadership team here from the Director of Operations, all the way down to the line lead was ARM and ARM failing at the same time. And there was there was never an there can’t ever be for a successful lean system. There can’t ever be the US them. That’s critical. 


Patrick Adams  19:37

Yeah. And again, you just made another three or four amazing points that I want to call out. The first one as the Director of Operations, you are out there with the team and you were one with them, and you were learning with them and you were failing with them. And I mean, that’s massive. That’s huge. And there’s leaders that are listening right now that you know, I can’t even Um, I can’t say how many organizations we walk into where there is an us versus them, there’s a wall between leadership and frontline employees. And that has to come down and you have to, you have to be arm and arm. I love the organizations that move production supervisors out of an office and put their desk out on the production floor. And I know that’s, you know, you can’t do that everywhere. But it’s just, it’s just that that visual picture of removing the walls, because we’re all in this together. The other thing that I wanted to ask you about was you mentioned failure. And I saw I want to ask this question, how many times when you fail during this, implement this Kanban? Rollout? Did you yell at people? Did you fire people? Did you? I mean, was Was there a fear of failure that you as the the Director of Operations instilled in your team so that they would not fail? Was that the case? Or was there something else going on? No, no. And to be honest, the first few failures that an organization or that we faced,


Toby Curry  22:09

I think it’s really critical that the leaders shoulder that and say, and just make sure the team sees that you are vulnerable. Hey, guys, I thought this would work this way. Just I personally like to shoulder that just to show that team that Hey, guys, I’m not afraid to failure. But even more important is now how are we going to adapt, overcome and improvise? That is that is 10x. More important than than failing is how do you respond to that failure? failures, okay, failure to failing for the same thing repeatedly. That’s failing, versus learning. Failing should be a learning experience. So yeah, I definitely think that never was an adversarial situation, how many times I scream probably quite a few times, on my way home, you know, the rearview mirror test, just ah, I can’t believe this isn’t working. And that 40 minute ride home, I’ve already got, okay, I think we should try these things, plant the seeds with some of the production team members, let them grow the plants, let them grow those plans. So it’s important for me, I’m not a top down leader, I don’t like to point and click, I like to plant the seeds with the employees, let them grow those ideas. We’ve all heard this before. If those ideas come from the production floor, they’re going to be heavily vested in making them succeed, versus me, telling them that this is the objective. And then they say, This was your idea, and it didn’t work. So


Patrick Adams  23:44

love it. It’s great. You know, and one other thing that I wanted to talk about too was your high performing work teams. So this was a concept that that you came up with, or as a team your group came up with and deployed it can you talk to talk to the listeners about what that what that means to be a high performing work team and I’ll just kind of let me just lay the the visual here. When I first walked into the facility, you had what you called your I gotta remember now tapers, that tape department all working on their own in an area of the plant segregated from the rest. And I can’t remember if that there was like a bottleneck or something there. I don’t remember all the details, you can give us that. But there were all these segregated departments in your production facility. And then you had inventory in between and you know, there was lack of flow. And so that’s kind of what how things started. And that now talk to us about that the high performing work team concept. 


Toby Curry  24:50

So if everyone’s heard the term spaghetti diagram, so if I were to draw my previous value stream, it would be that It would be even difficult to draw because it wasn’t defined. I had 12 different manufacturing cells or not even cells, pieces of equipment that fed seven more that fed 19 More 900 part numbers doing this. And it was it was crazy hype, the theory of high performance team was we select a group of part numbers, we assign that to a very specific piece of equipment. That value stream gets, you know, it’s two of our two of our cutting operations that feed our measuring operation. And the 19 tapers that we used to have out there. Those became a small group three tapers to a table, they’re collectively working on the same job. That job comes off the saw goes to the vision goes to the tapers goes to the stockroom. They have a finite amount HBT. One is high performance team one is 12 different part numbers, they are really good at running those 12 part numbers, that same team, right? I mean, that group of people were dedicated to that value stream or that group of of parts in that group of equipment, right. So they were able to look at the problems that were specific to their area and solve them together as a team. Yeah, absolutely. They became the experts. Before, nobody owns the part numbers, everybody owns them. And if everybody owns it, nobody owns it. We’ve heard that before. Yeah, these the these individuals now it’s a team of seven. They own these 12 part numbers, they’re the largest volume part numbers that we have in the plant. So it’s, I know, 12 Sounds like a small number. It’s responsible for about 40% of the volume that goes out of this plant. So it’s it’s a, it’s truly a high performance team. They have their own set of metrics. They have their they review their own quality. It’s just been fantastic. They have their own on time delivery scores. So I will say one of the neatest things that we’ve experienced is since the onset of Kanban, we have had zero on time delivery instances with any of these part numbers that have gone on Kanban. Yeah, the chaos is happening with what we’ll call the legacy parts. Those are the ones that have yet to be assigned to con bonds, we took our problem, children highest volume, and we assign those to Kanban. First, then we took the ones that had complicated process flows, we added those to Kanban. So we’re we’re definitely up in the complexity of our con months. And now we’ve even got con bonds within con bonds. Whip limitations and and and and but yeah, yeah.


Patrick Adams  27:42

 And I think it’s important to note too, you know, we hear that inventory is one of the one of the wastes, right, one of the seven ways eight ways, whatever you say, Now, I would I always come back to its its excess inventory, right, not the right size, or the right amount of inventory is okay, excess inventory is really the waste. When you do a combine, you definitely are holding a certain amount of inventory. Right? For you guys, you guys are dealing with some significant supply chain issues. I can’t remember what the lead time is. But your your raw materials are coming from overseas. Right? Correct. Yeah. So you know, so again, you have to there’s a lot of things that go into developing a Kanban and determining that that’s the right solution for you. But my guess is you’re continually looking at your inventory levels to see, you know, do we still need to carry this level of inventory? How can we continue to reduce that, and as we’re eliminating, you know, other problems or other issues, challenges, you know, we’re still continuing to improve even your own con bonds that you have in place. So, you know, that’s one thing. But the other thing, too, we mentioned failure. And, you know, again, you guys broke the system, you failed as much as you could to learn as much as you could. We talked about Lean initiatives in a manufacturing facility, you know, maybe specific to coastal, maybe other places you’ve been, but what do you feel is the largest factor that contributes to failed lean initiatives? You know, again, it could be, and I’m not talking about fail to learn, like, like, we just but I’m talking about like, we’re trying to develop, we’re trying to develop a continuous improvement culture, and we just were failing, or we’re trying to roll out lean initiatives after we have we feel like we have a stable culture, and we’re failing, like, what what would you say is contributing to, you know, some of those failed lean initiatives?


Toby Curry  29:44

So, two, I have two of them. Two of the biggest failure modes that I typically see I’ve experienced personally, is first and foremost, the lack of commitment. So that top down approach where the leaders of the organization are not fully vested in the Lean initiatives, I’ve seen that where it’s driven off of action items, that just doesn’t work. It’s got to be an, the entire company has to embrace that, from the CEO all the way down to the newest employee that just started. It’s more than just an action item list. It’s a commitment from the entire production floor. And it’s a culture, it’s a way of life. At every single day, we are continually talking about Kanban. Always do we have the right parts in there, blah, blah, blah, we’re always questioning it to see if we can improve. And that’s from myself down to the production floor, we didn’t really start breaking the system until we got the production floor involved in it, highly, highly involved in it. And they started questioning, oh, that’s a good idea. I never even thought of that. You know, the second thing is, and then we kind of touched on this a little bit earlier, the lack of a foundation. If a company doesn’t have a solid foundation, and understand where the demons in the planet lie, due to having those demons come up, they will surface in the lean in, in Lean implementation, having them surface during that process, you’re going to have enough headaches, and learning opportunities. When you’re launching Kanban. You don’t need to be blindsided by a bus. So address those buses in your plant first and foremost, and get a good foundation. 


Patrick Adams  31:35

Yeah, I like that. Those are, those are a couple of really, really good nuggets of advice, for those that are listening in. The other thing, too, is, this is always an interesting question that I like to ask, if we were to jump in our time machine, and we were to fly back to prior to you, you know, starting to practice some of these lean initiatives. And you could talk to yourself, I think there’s a couple of movies out there that that, you know, touch on that. But you were able to fly back in your in your time machine and talk to yourself, what would be some some wisdom that you would throw out there and give yourself? You know, in the beginning, what are some of those things that you’ve learned? That you’d say, Man, if only I would have known this way back? What would those be? 


Toby Curry  32:26

So mine is an easy one. And I would look at myself in the eyes. And I’d have to repeat myself three or four times because I wouldn’t listen, knowing the old me I’d have to tell myself repeatedly, you’re gonna fail. But instead of failing, replaced that word, with learn, because it’s going to be a lot better for your ego. I was really young, coming into a leadership role. And as a young gun with a bunch of old salty dogs, I had a lot to prove. And I was right. And I wasn’t going to be vulnerable. And I always had the next bright idea. Some of that work. But it wasn’t as easy as what it could have been. I should have been a lot more vulnerable. I should I, I am eager to fail. I hate to say that, because I’m learning during those experiences, right? And I’m taking those and I’m using those to make improvements in our process. It’s gonna happen whether or not I want it to or not. So if I want to if I want to take the thing off my ego, don’t call it fail. Failing, call it learning. Yeah, I like it. That’s good. All right, so what’s next for Toby and coastal? What do you what do you say? You guys, you mentioned that you’re working on maybe some, some more Kanban for some of your other part numbers. What are some of the other challenges or problems that you’re dealing with right now that you that you’re you’re challenging the team to work on some improvements or to look at for the future? So yeah, good point. Kanban is going to continue to grow, we’ve got about two or three more Kanban teams to launch. And then we’re we’re we will be 100 our scheduling days of the push system will be completely gone. It will be a complete pole system that’s based off a card based Kanban. And then, now that we have the high performance teams, we can start doing small training sessions with each one of these high performance teams. Pick a lean tool, you and I have talked before about the potential to do Gambit training with one of these team members rather than training the entire plant all at once. That’s a Bert that can be overwhelming at times. Take a small group of employees do a training session on even something as simple as the basic five s or the seven wastes of manufacturing gimble walks whatever it may be. We’ve recently on boarded a an employee trainer that is going to start documenting and all of these processes that we’ve created over the last year. And ultimately, we want to empower that person to work with the employees to develop that workforce, lots of training, it’s very people centric. That’s, that’s our biggest asset that we have right now. And we need to invest in those employees. 


Patrick Adams  35:18

Sure. And I’ll just ask this question, because I think you have the ability to do that, based on your structure with high performing teams where you can just take one team, and, you know, kind of roll out the training like that. What about, like cross training in, you know, do you have, like, does it limit you? Do these high performance teams limit you by, you know, all these people only work in this area and not these other areas? Or is it a benefit to you? You know, you know, again, I guess I’m just I’m wondering about that, as we’re talking about this, you know, do you have the ability for those those people to go from one high performing team to another? Or do you see that as a not not something you’ll do in the future? I don’t know. 


Toby Curry  36:03

So one of the one of the feedbacks that we’ve always gotten from the team, we’re a smaller workforce, I got 85 employees here. And I have three different pay bands, I have an operator A, which is my entry level, some of the lower skill, manufacturing up to an operator See, so I have operator A, B, and C, operator C, those are my CNC operators that are running my, my sauce. Now, historically, for someone to advance, there had to be a vacancy, we’ve done away with that mentality completely. Instead, if you’re an operator A, and you want to be an operator B, we have some curriculum that you’ve got to be trained on. And there is a skills assessment test both written and demonstrated that you have to pass and you will become an operator B, and you go into a B rotation on that team. So each high performance team has Operator A B’s and C’s on it. if that entire team wants to develop into operator sees and top out at the pay scale, I will gladly support that because I get some really good system experts in that manufacture in that small little highperformance. Team. If we have a problem, our most complicated process is that operators see that’s running that CNC wire saw, let’s say I have a problem with the saw, I now have seven heads that are really dialed into that. And man, they are going to do some cool things. And they’re going to do it really quickly. They can spot defects from a mile off. And on top of that, it gives them the opportunity to grow continually. So it opened up it did it did open up a lot of opportunity for our employees. 


Patrick Adams  37:46

I love that. And I know I’ve been on your manufacturing floor and I see the difference in your team, and just how engaged they are, how excited they are. And obviously, you know, again, when I’m there, your leadership team is out there working side by side load team and and I think that’s what I appreciate about coming into a facility like yours. You know, the the, the humble leadership, the servant leaders, the the you know, just there’s just so many positive things that I see when I come into your facility. So, you know, kudos to you guys. Kudos to your entire team for the work that you guys are doing. If anybody that’s listening in, has questions told me about some of the stuff that you’re doing or, or just wants to send you a note what would be the best way for them to contact you? 


Toby Curry  38:35

Yeah, email is definitely the right way to go. I love doing plant tours, the plant shows really well. I absolutely love doing that. So if anyone is ever interested in stopping in, I love networking within the Holland area. I do have a facility over in the Rochester Hills area as well reach out to me via email, I would love to engage. I also love having people in to say why don’t you do this? Or why don’t you do that? I’m open to that, you know, I’m not territorial at all. So


Patrick Adams  39:08

 I love that love that you that you’d like to share. And coastal is doing some pretty amazing things, you know, on the lake shore and we’re talking specifically in Michigan here in West Michigan. So for those of you that are listening in from the UK or from Australia, you know, I mean by all means Grand Rapids has a great airport come on in. Actually, I’ll just say coastal is also one of our one of our sponsors for upcoming lean Solutions Summit in October. And so if you want to come meet Toby and maybe fly in a little early, I’m sure Toby would love to give you a tour in October when we’re around for the Lean Solution Summit. So a little plug there for that. All right, so any other thing Toby is I will drop your email and crystals link for the website into the show notes. So if anyone’s interested to reach out to Toby, you can find his information right in the show notes. And yeah, and otherwise, if you want to meet Toby in person come on out to the lien Solution Summit. And we’ll have him there as well as coastal. So, Toby, thanks again. It was great to talk with you. I’m excited to get back out into your facility and see what other amazing things are coming down the pipeline. So great work to you guys. And thanks again for being on.


Toby Curry  40:22

Awesome. Yeah, really appreciate the opportunity. Patrick.

Meet Patrick

Patrick is an internationally recognized leadership coach, consultant, and professional speaker, best known for his unique human approach to sound team-building practices; creating consensus and enabling empowerment. He founded his consulting practice in 2018 to work with leaders at all levels and organizations of all sizes to achieve higher levels of performance. He motivates, inspires, and drives the right results at all points in business processes.

Patrick has been delivering bottom-line results through specialized process improvement solutions for over 20 years. He’s worked with all types of businesses from private, non-profit, government, and manufacturing ranging from small business to billion-dollar corporations.