LeanBlog Podcast #83 – CEO Jim D’Addario on Lean Manufacturing Saving & Creating Jobs as Part of Business Strategy


Podcast #83 is an in-depth conversation with Jim D'Addario, the CEO of D'Addario, Inc., a manufacturer of guitar strings, drum heads, and other musical accessories. Jim and his family company were featured on CNN late last year, highlighting how lean manufacturing has helped save and create jobs as part of their business strategy. Jim agreed to speak with me to delve into more detail about their use of lean management principles.

Jim is a hands-on CEO who gets out on the shop floor, which seems to be a big advantage for lean success. He describes his personal transition from a starting point of “not seeing the benefits” after lean was initially proposed to him to reaching a point where he articulates very well how lean allows D'Addario to better serve their customers' needs.


D'Addario started in the warehouse where, prior to lean, the operations strategy involved millions of dollars of warehouse automation. Now, with lean, they have freed up space, they have deployed people, and they can now ship orders that come in by 5 PM that very same day, as opposed to 48-hour performance before lean. Customers are able to hold less inventory and they can order more often in smaller batches. While this might increase order picking costs to D'Addario, Jim emphasized the increased customer contact and the benefits that come from that.

D'Addario has long had a committment to its people, avoiding layoffs as much as possible. In the course of lean improvements, people are redeployed and cross-trained to be more flexible. Now, with lean, D'Addario was able to shut down a California warehouse, resulting in job loss. But, the company has consistently moved to bring jobs to Long Island, acquiring product lines and moving production from China. In the case of guitar straps, Jim emphasized that while the unit labor cost for sewing is higher, they don't have “110 days lead time” coming from China. Customer service is better and that's good for D'Addario's business.

Jim said:

“We've moved more and more work here and we'll continue to do that.”

For earlier episodes, visit the main Podcast page, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS or via Apple Podcasts.

If you have feedback on the podcast, or any questions for me or my guests, you can email me at leanpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave a voicemail by calling the “Lean Line” at (817) 993-0630 or contact me via Skype id “mgraban”. Please give your location and your first name. Any comments (email or voicemail) might be used in follow ups to the podcast.

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

Get New Posts Sent To You

Select list(s):
Previous articleGuest Post: What Do You Do When…
Next articleThe Impact of Toyota’s Quality Problems on “Lean Healthcare”?
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.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.