As you celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, cut the turkey and pass the cranberry sauce, perhaps you'll take a moment out of your busy year to be thankful for what you often take for granted. Convaid, Torrance manufacturer of folding wheelchair structures, has made the spirit of Thanksgiving their business for over 35 years. Empowering caregivers of special needs children, the company’s goal is to provide the best combination of corrective positioning, comfort, durability and safety in wheelchairs, giving physically challenged children something to be thankful for.
Products That Heed Special Needs
Sensitivity to the broad needs of the physically challenged and their caregivers is a top priority for the company. The organization’s five basic wheelchair structures come in a variety of sizes and models and the customer has a choice of more than a hundred custom chairs that come in different colors. Convaid’s patented chairs are easily carried up stairs and can be transported on buses, trains and planes, providing more mobility for their customers.
A great organization such as Convaid should always be growing, and from 2010 to 2012 the company experienced an increase in sales. While they were excited to grow, the organization was finding it more difficult to accommodate the increase in orders.
“We were finding it challenging to keep up with production levels while keeping our processes efficient,” says Ed Packard, Director of Operations for Convaid. Packard says that the organization was seeing higher lead-times and “works in progress” which was impacting their relationships with customers. “We needed to find a way to keep up with production while still setting the foundation for growth.”
After initial consulting, CMTC recommended that Convaid participate in a structured training program for both managers and employees to develop their skills and implement improvement changes right away. “Our staff is important to us, so it was essential that our employees were a part of the change process,” says Packard.
Wheeling Their Way to Growth
In February of 2012, CMTC began numerous projects with Convaid. This included six Lean 101 Workshops, Current and Future State Value Stream Maps and two Rapid Improvement (Kaizen) events. Consultants worked with team members to identify specific opportunities for improvement. Plans were created to pinpoint and prioritize action items and the team learned how to apply the improvements in a timely manner.
“It was great how the workshops reinforced our company’s mission and stressed how our staff plays an important role in achieving our goals,” says Packard.
CMTC’s projects ended with Convaid in April of 2012. As a result of the projects, the organization was able to significantly improve their operations. Their “works in progress” experienced a decline of 12% and their lead-times were reduced by 35%.
Convaid was also able to realize $120,000 cost savings in labor, materials, energy and overhead which allowed the organization to invest in growth areas such as better equipment, software improvements and new product developments. These initiatives allowed Convaid to earn $250,000 in new sales and the increase in demand resulted in the hiring of 5 new employees. See the Convaid Case Study here.
Pay it Forward
Assisting manufacturers like Convaid who are the cornerstone of the nation's economy keeps local ecnonomies thriving, and in turn, keeps people thriving. And that's something to be thankful for.