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Continuous Improvement Motivates Long-Time Employee Todd Thompson

By Jen Gramm, Tru Vue® Director of Marketing

Continuous improvement plays a significant role in the culture at Tru Vue®. It is all thanks to employees like Todd Thompson, who have made a career to seek out new and better ways to manufacture our products. Currently, as a production development specialist at our Faribault, MN facility, Todd began his career 23 years ago starting on the production floor and grew into roles working with inspection, coating processes, team facilitation, and team leadership.



Having this kind of in-depth experience in many areas has helped him develop a full scope of how different teams, such as production and engineering, need to work together for the best results. Todd is trained in Six Sigma, a methodology for eliminating errors or defects in production and service. A strong advocate of this lean manufacturing approach, he is proud of the influence he and others trained in Six Sigma have had over the way Tru Vue manages production.



“Those of us who were trained in Six Sigma had a lot of support from the executive team at Tru Vue to implement our ideas and changes,” said Todd. “They allowed continuous improvement to happen.”



Though he places a high value on his training in Six Sigma, he also credits knowledge sharing and learning internally with his success at Tru Vue. Standard operating procedures are an important way knowledge sharing happens at the company, according to Todd. Any employee, regardless of their title or position, has the opportunity to change a standard operating procedure.



“We use floor level operators to give us feedback on how our machines operate and write standard operating procedures based on their input,” said Todd. “We involve everyone in order to get a better product.”



The process for changing a standard operating procedure is straight-forward, making it accessible to anyone. An employee fills out a continuous improvement form with their suggestion; then peer-to-peer review takes place to provide input. If the suggestion is approved, the standard operating procedure is updated, and the employee receives recognition from management.



“Standard operating procedures work well for eliminating what I call ‘tribal knowledge’ or training from what’s in a person’s head,” said Todd. “If we use and continually update our standard operating procedures, it becomes much easier to onboard a new employee and maintain a stronger team.”



Todd points out that customer feedback also drives continuous improvement. For example, a standard operating procedure was rewritten to have vendors pack crates differently which eases the repacking of the product by distributors and to arrive to customers the way that they prefer.



“If a customer tours our plant and sees things like standard operating procedures, visual management, and well-trained employees, it gives them a sense of confidence and consistency,” said Todd. “People here are passionate about quality and all the effort that goes into it. People will speak up to make sure the product is right. We take a lot of pride in what we do.”

This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.

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