When it comes to continuous improvement, La-Z-Boy's Dayton, Tenn., factory never rests on its laurels.
As tempting as it might be to kick back and relax on one of the iconic recliners that the plant manufactures, there's no margin for error in the face of fierce foreign competition.
"If we were doing business the same way we did in 2005, somebody else would be here because we would already be closed," says Continuous Improvement Manager David Robinson. "We are $50 million a year better now than we were."
The Dayton plant, which was one of IndustryWeek's Best Plants in 2012, has taken on the competitive challenge through its people, equipment and processes.
Both managers and employees have been trained in lean concepts and involved in operational improvement efforts. For example, 23 managers and engineers have been trained in Six Sigma.
The plant has been investing in new equipment to boost productivity. A $500,000 bag fusion machine allows the facility to make its own bags of fiber that are inserted into upholstered backs of chairs. The machine eliminated a $2,000-per-day outsourcing cost and reduced inventory for sister plants by 50 percent.
For more, read "2012 IW Best Plants Winner: La-Z-Boy Never Rests on Continuous Improvement."