While most companies that undertake a Lean Transformation do so in response to a slowdown in business or other challenges that impact profitability, the opposite was true for Turkey Hill. The company had enjoyed 30 years of double-digit growth, the workforce was happy and customer’s loved the company’s products. But, when Executive Vice President John Cox looked ahead and imagined the company 10 years down the road, he felt uneasy. “Competition was relentlessly increasing on our frozen food side. We had many great ideas and opportunities available to us. But, we weren’t able to take advantage of them. We were limited in what could be accomplished because our culture was one that looked to management to provide the leadership needed to pursue those opportunities – and management couldn’t do it all.”
Cox saw that Turkey Hill was about to enter a new life phase, and wanted a way to assure that the company could remain sharp, nimble, learning and growing. Cox believed that successfully navigating into the future would require moving away from the traditional management structure and towards a culture where employees are empowered to take initiative and lead the way in sustaining the company’s growth and profitability.
Lean was suggested by the Turkey Hill Quality Assurance Manager, and Cox spent a year with key members of his team visiting companies that were already implementing Lean methodologies, including DuPont and Toyota. A consultant was hired to help Turkey Hill implement Lean tactics and the management team became convinced that Lean was the right approach. People were trained as project teams were formed, with several projects a year being implemented.
After a couple of years, they felt that they needed a consulting organization with deeper expertise to help Turkey Hill take the training across the organization as thoroughly and rapidly as possible. “We wanted to really commit to it,” Cox says, “We were ready to move out of the learning and experimentation phase and give our Lean effort some traction.” Turkey Hill contracted with DVIRC to lead the effort.