Nampa Food Firm Builds Multicultural Lean TeamGreat American AppetizersGreat American Appitizers

gaa-logoIdaho’s Great American Appetizers is benefiting from TechHelp’s Lean for Food Processors with Lean English Essentials program that helps food processors overcome workplace language issues and implement the principles of Lean Manufacturing. Jeff Kronenberg of TechHelp and the University of Idaho and the GAA team worked to create greater efficiency, safety and organization. Great American Appetizers has been providing premium appetizers to the food service trade since 1959. GAA serves the nation with a complete selection of appetizer products from manufacturing facilities in Nampa, Idaho. GAA’s 220 employees are dedicated to the highest standards of quality and service and specialize in manufacturing proprietary, custom-­made products. In the last two years, GAA introduced 40 new products and experienced sales growth exceeding 100%.

Food Safety Specialist, Jeff Kronenberg, of TechHelp and the U of I (blue shirt) celebrates success with the GAA Team.

Food Safety Specialist, Jeff Kronenberg, of TechHelp and the U of I (blue shirt) celebrates success with the GAA Team.

In order to accommodate rapid growth and better meet customer demand, GAA brought in Food Specialist, Jeff Kronenberg, of TechHelp and the University of Idaho, to conduct Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) activities and to implement a Lean transformation through TechHelp’s Lean Manufacturing & Lean English Essentials for Food Processors program. The Lean for Food LEE Program is designed for food processing companies that have language and cultural issues that might hinder a successful Lean transformation. TechHelp teamed with its Manufacturing Extension Partners (MEP) in Oregon, Nevada and Washington to secure a $3.2M grant from the US Department of Labor that subsidizes Lean LEE activities up to $60,000 per participating company. TechHelp has introduced the Lean for Food LEE program to 5 Idaho companies and will begin work with another 6 during the remainder of 2007.

Through classroom training, hands­-on food production simulations and shop-floor exercises, TechHelp Lean practitioners teach workers how to recognize and eliminate the eight types of manufacturing waste. Specially trained English language instructors help non-­native English speakers master Lean terminology and principles and address workplace cultural issues. “A major objective of Lean is to seek input from the line worker,” said Kronenberg. “Lean empowers line workers to be engaged in the process of continuous improvement, so you want to make sure they understand and are able to overcome any cultural issues that might prevent them from taking an active role.”

Steve Cordova, operations vice president for Great American, said that many of the workers had been geared toward simply following the boss’s instructions, but the Lean effort changed that. Plant Superintendent Luis Garcia said the Lean effort drew widespread support from employees, and didn’t lead to job losses. According to Garcia, productivity is up, waste is down and the overall picture is a lot of improvement and more communication.

TechHelp worked with GAA to:

  • Conduct a one day plant assessment to identify opportunities for waste reduction and profitability enhancement.
  • Identify and train a Hispanic Lean Champion to lead GAA’s Lean transformation.
  • Provide training to Hispanic employees on Lean concepts required to understand the Principles of Lean 101 Workshop.
  • Provide in­house Lean 101 workshops and a two­day Value Stream Mapping activity to guide the Lean transformation.
  • Host several Kaizen events focused on rapid plant change, creating a 5S visual workplace, reducing floor waste and reducing rework.
  • Assess the facility’s HACCP system and provide technical assistance to improve GAA’s HACCP Program.
  • Obtain USDA FSIS certification that allowed GAA to add meat to their line of appetizers.

Results of Lean, HACCP and Food Certification Initiatives:

  • Lean, HACCP and food certification activities led to sales increase of $4.42 Million.
  • Lean helped GAA, save $340,000 in labor, materials, energy and overhead.
  • Lean helped GAA avoid a $3.5 Million plant expansion.
  • Lean helped GAA move from a 7­-day operation to a 5-­day operation and led to better morale & attitude through employee empowerment.
  • 5S Visual Workplace activities created a safer, more intuitive and more efficient workplace.