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 Sandpoint, Idaho ­ Bonner County
Project Area: Lean Manufacturing for Food Processors



In the mid-1950’s, Chef Ed Hawkins and his wife Lorena bought The Litehouse Restaurant in the resort town of Hope near Sandpoint, Idaho where they served their now famous blue cheese dressing. It wasn’t long before patrons started bringing empty jars so they could take home some of the delicious dressing. In 1962, the Hawkins’ family purchased 12 dozen cases of 16-ounce jars and a new business was born. As the Litehouse product line and demand for the company’s products expanded, management began to examine Lean Manufacturing as a way to address growth pains. In 2004, TechHelp Food Specialist, Jeff Kronenberg of the University of Idaho Food Science and Toxicology Department visited Litehouse and found a company ready to move forward with a Lean transformation.


  • A plant assessment identified Lean opportunities.
  • Lean 101 workshops grounded Litehouse staff in Lean principles and prepared them for the Lean transformation.
  • A Value Stream Mapping (VSM) activity created a current state map that identified areas of waste and a “future state map” that would act as a road map to Lean.
  • Litehouse Lean teams conducted a series of Kaizen events to eliminate waste and move the company towards the future state identified in the VSM.
  • 5S Visual Workplace tools made the plant more intuitive, efficient and safe.
  • Quick Changeover and Setup Reduction activities decreased the amount of time needed to reconfigure production lines.
  • Litehouse created small work cells where smaller batches of product could be produced quickly and efficiently as per customer demand.
  • TechHelp provided ongoing consultation as needed.


The Litehouse Lean Transformation has produced:

  • $400,000 in operating cost savings.
  • $300,000 in inventory reduction.
  • $45,000 savings due to improved workforce practices.
  • $1,000,000 in cost avoidance by not having to expand into a larger facility.
  • Potential for increased profits due to better customer service and elimination of waste.
  • A safer and more efficient workplace due to 5S modifications.
  • A more motivated workforce due to Lean’s emphasis on worker involvement.
  • A high-quality workplace staffed by employees drawn to a successful operation that values and invests in its workers.

Idaho State Senator, Shawn Keough presented Idaho’s first Spirit of Continuous Innovation (SOCI) award to Litehouse Foods at a luncheon held at the company’s Sandpoint facility on Wednesday, August 9, 2006. The SOCI award was created to honor Idaho companies that demonstrate a spirit of continuous product and process innovation. 

I am really proud of how the organization embraced Lean and implemented the program. What is truly exciting is that Lean empowers each individual in the organization to make a difference toward the goal of process improvement. Each individual can truly make a difference in how we go to market with the goods and services we provide. Edward W. Hawkins, Jr., CEO, Litehouse