Success Stories

Lean Tools and Value Stream Mapping Help Minnkota Windows Increase Sales by 12% and Labor Productivity by 20%

Minnkota Windows

Minnkota Windows, located in Fargo, ND, manufactures and distributes custom-size vinyl residential and commercial windows. Types of windows include single and double hung, single and double sliders, casements, awnings, picture windows, bow and bay windows and patio doors. The 20-year-old company has 35 employees working in a 35,000 sq. ft. plant. They produce top quality zero-maintenance vinyl windows that are marketed through remodeling contractors, lumberyards and dealers in the upper Midwest.

Meeting Lead Times

Due to increased customer demand over the past two years, the lead times to fill orders were extending beyond their two-week target, especially during peak construction periods. During the summer and fall months of 2001, Minnkota Windows was six weeks out on delivery time. The customers were saying, "Two weeks or less."

Lean Tools and Value Stream Mapping

In order to reduce the lead-time, Minnkota Windows President Pete Silbernagel turned to the Impact Dakota for help. He realized the plant's process flow needed to be analyzed and some reorganization needed to take place. In March 2002, Silbernagel asked Impact Dakota to deliver a Lean 101 session to all employees with the mission: "Tweak the process flow with the whole team on board." The Impact Dakota team also assisted Minnkota Windows in analyzing the current process and developing a Lean implementation plan. 

As a result, employees have been applying many Lean principles --such as value streaming, workplace organization, visual controls, line balancing, cross training, and sharing ideas for improvement -- into the workplace. According to Silbernagel, Lean has helped Minnkota Windows: streamline operations on the shop floor and eliminate wasted processes, automate some processes that were more labor intensive, improve labor productivity, get smaller quantities more frequently from their vendors and improve communications throughout the company. 

 Lead Teams Reduced, Sales Increase by 12% and Productivity Improves 20%

  • Major goal achieved! Minnkota Windows is down to one-week cycle time for order fulfillment to customers; an improvement from six-weeks one year earlier.
  • Sales increased 12% over previous year; labor productivity improved 20%. The changes gave Minnkota Windows the opportunity to grow its business and increase sales at a time when Silbernagel feels sales could have been flat due to economic conditions.
  • The employees have met the Lean concepts enthusiastically. Ideas were shared with a lot of team support.

"We have gone through a major paradigm shift from the old cultural tendencies of our company -- from being batch driven to customer driven. It's been great for the company! We are very customer driven. Lean manufacturing allows us to achieve higher customer satisfaction and it's helping us grow. We embrace the Lean concepts."

-- Pete Silbernagel, President of Minnkota Windows

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