Who are the Lean Success Stories?


Question for the blog readers:

Who are the great lean companies?

Don't give me a list of Shingo Prize winners. Don't tell us who has done a lot of lean stuff or who has used lean practices here and there, even if it's over many years. Who are the companies that really “deeply implement” the Toyota Production System culture and management mindset? Who has implemented and adopted the 14 points of The Toyota Way?

Lots of discussion about this on the blog recently. Jeff Liker thinks less than 2% of auto suppliers qualify as having “deeply implemented TPS.” GE is trying to do Lean, but blog readers are skeptical that it's more than a tool for GE. People go and tour Japan to see Toyota and other lean companies, but there have to be good ones here in the U.S. at this point.

So who are they? Who would you add to an “American Kaikaku Lean” tour list? What companies, what plants, what cities?

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. HI Mark,

    Great site, especially for someone like me who is trying to understand and learn more about lean.

    I know of a company that really implements Lean Mfg. like you talk about. I don’t work there (yet), but I have been given a tour of their facility. B&B Manufacturing (bbmfg.com) is located in southern California and does embrace every aspect of Lean Mfg. I think an interview with their president and/or vice president would be a great addition to your Podcast files for others to hear.

  2. B & B Manufacturing – One of the Great Lean companies…
    I was a little surprised but definitely pleased to run across the positive comment posted about B & B Manufacturing and the progress with Lean Manufacturing. I noticed the comment was left anonymously; perhaps the individual is now an employee at B & B.

    It has been our goal and direction for the past 7 years to embrace Lean Manufacturing and utilize the many tools and ideas behind the philosophy. At first we found it difficult to get the ball rolling as we had some big issues in the way (ourselves). Once we got beyond our belief systems (paradigms) and committed ourselves to the philosophies and investment we started to gain momentum.

    Please don’t let anyone fool you, the investment is substantial, while it is easy to have a one day or one week shot in the arm such as a Kaizen event where you pinpoint a specific area in your company and seemingly develop change overnight, which at the time seems to be kind of an adrenaline rush, it seems almost too easy. Of course the reason that it seems too easy is because it is. A properly run Kaizen event on any process that involves a number of resources such as people, machines etc, requires a complete understanding of the value stream, which would first include a study of the area (current state) which should provide an understanding of all aspect of the process including all resources, machines, people, suppliers, customers, etc. The goal is not only getting positive change to take place but getting change to stick, changing the culture, and seeing the gradual movement toward lean which is a slow and pain staking journey that has many rewards.

    Today, a number of years down the road I am not so sure we are on Toyoda’s heels, at times we find ourselves disappointed in the progress on a certain project or process within the organization but then we stop and remind ourselves of the journey, the change and growth that has taken place and we can smile for just a moment.

    In closing, I think I would relate the Lean journey to one of my personal goals of good health; perhaps you start by going to the gym, working out, eating right, it takes daily effort and commitment, eventually you start to see results and it really feels good, but we all know what happens when we start to back off maybe skip the gym return to the old habits.

    Lean is a valuable tool for business, however you must be committed to the investment of your time and money and make continuous improvement as part of your daily focus. Let me know if you are in the area, I would love to give you a tour of our operation.

    Best Regards,

    Jeff Lage
    Vice President
    B & B Manufacturing
    Valencia, Ca 91355


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