Planet Gore

Putting Wind Turbines Front and Center

President-elect Obama just finished speaking at the Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Co in Bedford Heights, Ohio, on the need for green jobs to save the U.S. economy. Cardinal makes high end bolts for wind turbines and from the sound of it, is a pretty good American success story. One thing that jumped out from the Plain-Dealer write-up:

The company, with $10 million in annual sales, runs three shifts, said Wendy Brugmann, chief operating officer, but the second and third shifts have much smaller work crews and could be expanded.

The company projects its annual revenue will grow to $40 million to $50 million in the near future.

The success story is not a windfall, insisted Grabner. Cardinal is an example of what happens when a company’s embraces “Lean Thinking,” a workplace culture perfected by Toyota.

The system, which Grabner acknowledges is “counterintuitive,” scraps specialization and cross-trains every employee, from secretaries to sales reps to machinists.

It’s a culture change, Grabner said – one that has made the company extremely efficient, able to design, make and ship an order in as little as the same day.

Not many small companies around these days embrace what might be called the Chrysler style of manufacturing efficiency.

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