Lean as a Way to Save Manufacturing Featured on CNN


Hat tip to blog reader Steven H. for sending this video my way.

It's always nice to see Lean featured in the mainstream media, including CNN. Click here for the video at cnn.com.

The story says that the company, a guitar string maker called D'Addario in Long Island, has:

  • Cut inventory
  • Streamlined the factory floor
  • Installed new technology and
  • Saved jobs

The owner says they made a commitment in the 1970's that they would make the strings in America and they still have this committment. The owner and CEO, Jim D'Addario says:

“We do not want to lay people off because Lean has been effective. That's not going to help people embrace Lean. That's not really going to help our company or our community. What we do is take those people and train them to do something else.”

That's classic Lean thinking, an approach that many hospitals are also taking, with their “no layoffs due to Lean” pledges. They've helped create jobs for freed up staff by acquiring new lines of business (like guitar straps) and moving work FROM China.

An economist says in the piece:

“Some manufacturing SHOULD be done in China. But too much manufacturing is being done in China that could be done more effectively in the United States.”

See Eve Yen and Diamond Wipes for an example of that strategy.

CNN says they implemented a “Toyota waste-reduction strategy” known as Lean. As Steve pointed out, the voiceover incorrectly says that Lean “relies heavily on automation.”

The typical Toyota factory is actually LESS automated than a “Detroit Three” competitor.

In the video, I also see Evans drum heads being made, which is exciting since I'm a drummer and have Evans heads on my drum set at home.

D'Addario says:

“I think people give up on manufacturing in America prematurely. It can be done.”


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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. Great find, Mark! With my roots in manufacturing I still believe American Manufacturing can compete. And yes, I believe, Lean is the best methodology to do that. It is great to see stories like this, we need a few more highlighted by mainstream press.

  2. Hi Mark:This is Jim D'Addario here, the CEO in the CNN piece. I had to post a comment as a colleague sent me your blog. I am on the board of trustees for Mercy and ST. Francis Hospitals on L.I. I just finished reading your book and just subscribed to your blog on my kindle!! what a coincidence. You will be happy to know I bought 20 copies for the hosptial management team and just had them for a Lean tour of our facilities!I am hopeful to convince them to embrace lean in the near future as I am sure they will see great results.Yours truly,Jim

  3. It's great to see such a great example of lean manufacturing. It is an exiting time for lean manufacturing as companies look to cut costs and I personally believe that future innovations often emerge out of tough economic conditions


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