February 2014


Lean in Action 

The Milsco facility in Jackson has been in operation since the 1960’s (although it was called Michigan Seat until 2006). We have 2 Value Streams that make up 95% of our business. Our Turfcare seating Value Stream produces seats for various manufacturers of riding lawn care equipment and our Industrial seating Value Stream produces seats primarily for the Forklift industry.
Milsco dabbled with some Lean tools beginning in 2010 and had some success and some failures. Beginning in 2012, we really began to focus on the thinking behind Lean, and not just implementing “cool stuff” on the shop floor (which usually ended in disaster). So, what does that actually mean? Here are some things we are doing:

  • Management “Lunch And Learn” sessions each month. These are 2-hour learning sessions for the leadership team
  • Supervisor “Lunch And Learn”. Same goal as the management sessions, with an extra dose of coaching the “human side” of Lean
  • Daily Gemba Walks. All managers walk for one hour each day, every day. We have really honed our “learning to see” skills!
  • Yearly Facility assessments and Lean Vision review. We dedicate time to reflect and plan for the future

Of course, along with these, we have done some great things in the facility by using the Kaizen workshop style improvement effort. We have really made an effort to involve employees in every decision that affects their direct work area which has been a challenge and a big change from the leadership style of years past. We have a long way to go and are just finishing up our Lean Hoshin planning for 2014. Some of our larger areas of opportunity are in our material identification and flow and continuing to raise the Lean IQ of everyone in the shop, from the corner office “up front” to our wonderful custodian, Connie!

Visit their website at

The Leaning Edge
The Leaning Edge Radio Show, led by MLC Co-Founder Debra Levantrosser, airs every Friday and Saturday on the Michigan Business Network. Recent guests include Betty Gratopp from Zingerman's and Gregg Bloomfield from The Center for Financial Planning!

Tune in on Fridays at 11 am, 5 pm, 11 pm, 5 am and Saturdays/Sundays at 8 am, 1 pm, 6 pm, 11 pm. You can also listen to and download past episodes on the website. If you are interested in being a guest on the show email Debra at

Please note that hits on the radio show determine whether or not it stays on the air. Thank you for your support. Please listen and email the station with your positive feedback if you love the show!


Comic Corner


Upcoming Events

Integrated Task Assessment: A Tool to Improve Health Care Performance - February 28, 2014 at Automation Alley

Lean Series 101 - March 28, 2014 in West Olive

Toyota Kata Training - May 16, 2014 in Flint

Annual Conference - August 8-9, 2014 in Traverse City

If you have an idea for an event or would like to host an event, please email our Event Commitee co-leads at & Thank you!

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Volunteer Spotlight

Dennis Sergent: 
I have led more than 100 change programs over 20 years with a singular focus on customers, communications and teamwork.  In 2000, I founded Sergent Results Group to help people and the organizations they work in get better at everything they do.  I've led dozens of technology deployments, service improvement programs, cost improvement initiatives, business startups and organizational transformations.  I've delivered the promised value on time, on budget and on scope, with over $8 Billion in results for a variety of local, state and international clients. In addition, I have worked with many community and service organizations, customer advocate and economic development teams.  I am also a public speaker with insight on subjects such as leadership, customer service, value, teamwork, quality systems, innovation, integration, project management, systems thinking, performance and organizational defenses.

I've been working with Lean principles and practices since the early 1990s in telecommunications, mostly in value stream mapping and business process reengineering.  After those efforts, I also worked on organizational changes, business process and customer requirements, six sigma service design, as well as lean startups.  In the course of the early 2000s, I've consulted with a number of companies and government organizations on Lean, continuous quality improvement and more value stream mapping.

It has been a wonderful thing to work with other MLC volunteers such as Debra Levantrosser, Eric Walters, Holly Plaga, Kate Sweeney, Lauren Stewart, and Mike Taubitz in the efforts of the MLC in helping the general public learn what is so powerful about Lean and quality - how it can make a big difference when you leant to engage the people in the workplace.  As a taxpayer, it has also been great to volunteer to coach four Lean Green Belt candidates at the State last year and to also be a coach for a project with the MEDC last year with Debra, and also to help the Michigan Department of Education on an employee engagement project with their Lean Green Belts who graduated from the MLC program last year. I've been honored to be elected to the Board of the MLC and even more humbled by being elected to be the vice chairman.  Under the leadership of Jim Manley and the legacy built by all the previous board members, it is obviously going to be a development opportunity of my lifetime, again an honor.

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