A NC Lean Success Story


North Carolina plant finds $2M in productivity gains with lean

Here's another small company lean success story — a plant with just 160 people this time.

A quote from an employee called “Captain Kaizen”:

One enthusiastic employee, Mark Stogner, is known as Captain Kaizen around the Albemarle plant.

“I became a believer when N.C. State University lean trainer David Ball had us do a simple exercise that demonstrated lean efficiencies,” said Stogner, a design machinist. “I had not seen this before. I know now lean is the way to go. We need to get everyone involved so we can keep making improvements. We need more kaizen events where you get out there and do it. You see fast results and get to do a lot of brainstorming.”

The thing I like about this article is that most of the quotes are from front-line employees — production associates and the like. That's a good sign that “the workers” like lean and see benefits in it. That most likely means that lean wasn't just a superficial 5S exercise or something like that.

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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. I liked this too, and used it in “Lean Directions.” The IES at NCSU seems to really have something special going, or perhaps they are especially good at posting their success stories. Either way, these are the stories that give us courage and hope, as one “Lean Directions” subscriber told me. Lots of them at last week’s AME conference, with no secrets about barriers and difficulties. Lean takes plain old persistence.


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