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Lean Consortium in Tyler, TX

Three years ago  I was living in Tyler, TX working for Trane.  Tyler is a medium sized town of about 100,000 people and has a lot of industry.  Goodyear had just shut down their plant there.  I knew that lean would have helped them.

My passion for lean needed an outlet.  I decided to write several organizations across the city about starting a lean consortium.  I even called the mayor.  To my surprise, there was a lot of interest.  Approximately 80% of the organizations called me back and wanted to meet.  Including the mayor.  His office called and put me in touch with the city manager.

I met with several manufacturing facilities, both hospitals, the city manager, the president of Tyler Junior College, and senior executives from Brookshires Grocery, the regional grocery chain.

After a year of one-on-one meetings and lunches, we had a group meeting.  Joe Rizzo who was leading the Jacksonville, Fl consortium was kind enough to fly into Tyler and give us some background in setting up a consortium.

A few of us had a couple more meetings and were on the verge of starting the consortium when my family and I ended up moving to Kansas City.  I kept in touch for a few months but we lost contact.  I was hoping the consortium had enough momentum to continue but wasn’t sure.

Last week, I got an e-mail with a link to an article about the Smith County Lean Consortium.  The consortium has been going strong for 2 years now.

About two years ago, after Hood Packaging had already begun to implement lean practices, the business joined the newly formed Smith County Lean Consortium.

Hood was one of the companies I met with that committed to the consortium.  The had been using lean and were very open to sharing.  Another company I met with was Brookshire’s Grocery.  They were the big regional family owned grocery chain.

Scott Reily, senior vice president of logistics for Brookshire Grocery Co., said when Brookshire’s was first approached about the consortium, the company was already looking at continuous improvement efforts.

He and other leaders of corporate development at Brookshire’s formed a team to go through training and come up with continuous improvement initiatives.

He said the lean concept is all about making small improvements – looking at every process, breaking it down and asking how it can be done better.

There are several companies that have joined the consortium.

Entities involved in the consortium from the beginning are Hood Packaging, Brookshire’s, TEEX/TMAC, Vesuvius, the city of Tyler, Smith County and Tyler Junior College.

Other members include Air Rover, Cardinal Health, Distant Lands Coffee, Luminant and Teknor.

I can’t express how happy I am that the consortium has been continuing one and educating organizations in the area on lean.  What really moved me was that after 2 years they were kind enough to mention my part in starting the consortium.  It was something they didn’t have to do, but did.  It meant a lot to me.  I want to say thanks to the consortium for doing that and I wish them continued success as they move forward.