Success Stories

Investment in Lean training pays dividends for LoneTree Designs

Lone Tree Designs

LoneTree Designs was founded by Eric and Corrine Aasmundstad in 2011.  A family-owned company, located in Devils Lake, North Dakota, serves customers nationwide.  They manufacture standard, as well as custom, yard and garden art products such as planters, collegiate, metal flowers, personalized signs, wildlife sculptures, fire pits, and home and cabin accents. Their products are handmade, with the finest materials and they pride themselves by paying attention to detail on every product.  With in-house design capabilities, the company has been very responsive to customers who desire unique designs for use in and around their homes, farms, and businesses. Their competition includes SWEN Products and Thomas Metal Art (North Dakota), big box stores such as Lowe's and Hobby Lobby, and on-line through Amazon, Etsy.  LoneTree Designs however is distinguishes themselves by offering quality products and customization.

Confronted with the need to increase production capacity the company reached out to Impact Dakota.  After an on-site visit and assessment of the manufacturing facility, Impact Dakota suggested a number of improvement measures and proposed a short course in LEAN concepts followed by an on-site visit.

The LEAN tools and systems covered in Impact Dakota's Lean Enterprise for High Performance Manufacturing training were customized to meet the time and other resource constraints that the company had.  The training focused on how best making use of various resources and included 5S, plant layout and cellular manufacturing, pull/kanban system, and setup reduction methodology.  During the training feedback was solicited as how different LEAN tools and systems relate to company's situation and if implemented, how they can help with increased productivity.

After the training a follow-up site visit was conducted to receive feedback and observe changes that were made to help with improving capacity.  The visit also included a discussion and analysis of outsourcing some operations and focusing on product and processes that can help with the goal of improved capacity while enhancing the revenue stream.  Emphasis was put on product portfolio and the need to reduce product variety and focusing on reducing and/or eliminating products that consume too much of capacity and not generating good revenue.

Productivity and Time (workforce) - Better use of the space and improved layout and product staging has resulted in an overall productivity gain of 15-20%.  This productivity translates to a range of 1,050-1,400 hours saving per year and given a labor cost of $65/hour with 3.5 FTE labor, the recognized labor cost savings per year is in the range of $68,250-$91,000.

The labor time saved now can be used to produce more products and therefore enhanced revenue.  The additional revenue has not been calculated yet but can roughly translate to 15% of annual sales.

Idea - A major effort is now under way to evaluate all products and focusing on enhancing product portfolio that includes maintaining and/or increasing products that offer high profit and reducing and/or eliminating products that are not profitable.

Training and Culture - One of the challenges of any productivity improvement efforts is sustaining the changes.  Based on the feedback received from the company the employees are now more in-tuned with LEAN concepts including, but not limited to product flow and improved workplace organization.

“The training provided by Impact Dakota has been very helpful in improving the operations of our facility. The time spent to date will pay dividends for years to come. I would recommend Impact Dakota to anyone!”
— Eric Aasmundstad, Owner

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