Lean Implementation for Business: Effort Versus Success

Throughout my extensive career I have seen a lot of companies from the inside, met a lot of managers and employees, observed a lot of processes and operations, and I still learn new things every day.  Access to information has never been greater than what it is today.  Books, articles, blogs and various forms of ... >

Organizational Effectiveness

While strategic planning is a critical forward-thinking effort that company leadership can’t afford to get wrong, poor execution is a common problem that can jeopardize a great plan. Accomplishing goals is a necessarily important part, but the company also has to accomplish the goal in an efficient and sustainable manner. Organizational effectiveness addresses both quantity ... >

Resilient Supply Chains are now a Competitive Advantage

Resilient Supply Chains are now a Competitive Advantage We just got through the biggest health and supply chain disruption since WW2. As we move through the pandemic, the global Supply Chain is struggling to recover. Companies are challenged with limited raw material availability, extended lead times and transportation delays.  Their competitors, that have been able to ... >

Can Sales Reps Have Too Many Choices?

Business-To-Consumer (B2C) Consumer choice is the subject of many studies.  Should a company extend its product line or stay focused?  How does this affect physical distribution, in either ecommerce warehouses or retail stores?  Retail stores are fixed with limited shelf space and almost no potential to expand.  Warehouses can be expanded, but at a cost.  I think ... >

The Value of Sales & Operations Planning

Sales & Operation Planning (S&OP) is a process to make sure sales, finance, operations and supply chain are aligned, so customer service and profit are maximized. When done well, S&OP allows business to capture efficiencies because it can proactively adjust sales, operations and supply chain as forecasts change. However, this value is only captured when the company ... >

B2C and B2B Distribution Through an Amazon World

Navigating various sales channels, inventory, and pricing exposure when Amazon makes the rules Amazon is a behemoth in B2C distribution, and is growing their B2B business.  If you compete in this space, then you have experienced their wake or could soon.  Trying to fight or beat Amazon is likely a losing battle.  But there are ways ... >

Increase Profits by using Customized Value-Based Pricing

Pricing can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line extremely quickly, probably more quickly than any other business initiative.  Our method uses data analytics to identify value-levers for customizing pricing. These dramatic improvements do not come easy, they require putting resources on pricing analytics in-line with the value it can deliver.  Here’s an example ... >


Omnichannel is a supply chain order fulfillment system that uses all of the assets in the supply chain (stores, warehouses, return-centers, trucks, drones) to fulfill your order quickly and at the lowest cost. Stores Matter In an omnichannel, stores matter. Having physical retail stores is a way to increase sales... yes increase sales. Not everyone, even young ... >

Forecasting the other F word

Understanding How Forecasts Help your Business</strong Using the simple, but effective Dupont Return on Capital Model, we can see what can happen with more accurate forecasts. Profit = Sales - Costs Return on Invested Capital = Profit / Invested Capital Improving forecasts increase fulfilled sales and therefore profit at lower investment capital It is Hard to Hire, Train ... >

Executing Your Sales & Operations Plan

For those of you who have used but dropped S&OP or if you not familiar with the term, it would be best described as "Executing your Sales & Operations Plan." If you are having problems turning your sales plan into a reality because operations, sales and finance are not aligned, then you need to consider ... >

Do You Have the Right Inventory Metrics

Inventory Metrics for the New World Historically, companies that shipped product from finished goods inventory such as distributors and e-commerce companies, for their inventory performance measures (related to customer-service) used fill rate. Unit fill rate = units shipped / units ordered Line fill rate = number of lines on an order filled complete / total lines ... >

The Challenge of Retail, Omni-Channel and Supply Chain Management

The challenge in retail is summed up in one word, e-commerce. Retailers spent decades creating low-cost supply chains to serve customers from bricks-and-mortar stores and the replenishment systems to keep stores stocked with the right inventory.  However, with the advent of e-commerce these systems are not sufficient to be successful. Even the smallest retailers are selling products from ... >

Business Intelligence – Customer Optimization

Often companies rate their customers simply by revenue or unit volume and fail to recognize gross profit margin, maintenance cost and other strategic factors. This can result in an incorrect perception of which customers are the highest performers and most important to the company. Supply Velocity uses a new Business Intelligence System, Customer Optimization, and a new metric, ... >

Business Process Improvement

Processes are the heart of every company or organization, but as companies, products and marketplaces became more complex, the demands and expectations of processes become greater and they often fail to effectively meet the company's or the customers' needs and objectives.  Inefficient business processes can have 5 times the negative impact on the customer over ... >

Lean Product Development

Product development can include hard-goods, software or new services, and few processes involve as many different departments within a company as product development.  As the development effort crosses between departments such as marketing, research, engineering, purchasing, operations and sales there are numerous opportunities for the effort to stall or even reverse direction.  This can be ... >

Process Improvement Forum at Impact

In November we held a Process Improvement Forum for our Clients at Impact Group. These Forums are a chance for our Clients to learn from each other. Impact Group's trained coaches and research team works to solve the myriad of problems a relocating family can face. We thought Impact would be a great host because they ... >

Is there anything better than seeing something first hand?

Thanks to our friends at MiTek, more than 20 of Supply Velocity’s client-companies were able to send representatives to see how MiTek is using lean tools to increase their capacity, ensure on-time delivery, and improve financial performance.  On 9 October, Greg Pritchett and his team hosted nearly 50 current and past customers of Supply Velocity.  ... >

Mitch Presented “What’s new in Lean”

July 10th I presented "What is new in Lean" for the Midwest Manufacturing Leaders.  100 people heard me discuss taking Lean beyond the facility and making your supply chain Lean.  My co-presenter was Ray Keefe, recently retired Executive Vice President of Manufacturing for Emerson.  If you would like a copy of this presentation send me ... >

Effective Execution Using Key Performance Scorecards

Effective Execution Using Key Performance ScorecardsSome common themes we observe or hear from clients and prospective clients about their company: a lack of accountability for results organizational responsibility and ownership is not well defined poor communications; there are often department silos or walls that reduce communication departments are not aligned throughout the organization goals and objectives are poorly defined or ... >

Mitch is Streamling a Client’s Supply Chain Management Process

I am working at a defense contractor Client, streamlining their supply chain management processes.  We will definitely do a e-newsletter on this project.  The team identified 46,000 hours per year of wasted steps.  The future state completely changed their planning and purchasing processes. We are working with them now on their proposal development and program kick-off ... >

Tradeoffs in Operations

Strategic Tradeoffs in Operations Don't Exist In an important paper written in the Harvard Business Review, Skinner (1969) stated that in operations you must make tradeoffs between quality, delivery, flexibility and cost. In other words, you cannot have it all. Academic researchers jumped on this idea and conducted many surveys of companies around the world to ... >

Important Quantitative Supply Chain Decisions  

 Link to Additional Details Download "Important Quantitative Supply Chain Decisions" here.  We decided to call this "Quantitative" Supply Chain Decisions, but we could have called it Logistics Decisions.  Logistics can be described as the supply chain within a firm, encompassing the more quantitative decisions.  We will provide an overview of these decisions.  For more details you can ... >

Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) Model 

 Link to Additional Details  Download "Supply Chain Operations Reference Model" here. You may be wondering, "What is an operations reference?" SCOR is a process model, and separately, but related, a measurement model. Process Model As a process model it follows the supply chain through five functional areas. These are called the Level 1 processes. Plan Source Make Deliver Return In the attached slide-set you will ... >

Designing your Supply Chain 

Link to the White-Paper Designing Your Global Supply Chain  In the 1990's, and with the rise of the concept of Supply Chain Management, supply chains have gone global. Creating a global supply chain forced companies to consider the strategic choices they made when designing their supply chain. Globalization has included suppliers in many different countries, setting up warehouses ... >

The Ideal Lean Scorecard (An Assessment Tool) 

Link to the White-Paper The Ideal Lean Assessment Scorecard The Ideal Lean Process All employees show up to work every day, are motivated, can work at any operation and are constantly looking for ways to improve processes Supplies can be ordered and delivered immediately, in whatever quantities are needed and are defect free Equipment never breaks Processes ... >

What’s Mitch Up to

  I just finished work with a Client on creating a Direct Labor Performance Incentive.  I may present more on this later in the year.  I wanted to draw attention to the top of the photo.  You may be able to make out one of the greatest quotes ever, from the founder of this company, "Make ... >

The Importance of Change Management

Recently I held a Process Improvement Forum at Weekends Only; a furniture store Client with 5 stores in the St. Louis area. Last year we used Lean Six Sigma to improve the process of picking furniture for customer pick up. See the testimonial below from Weekends Only's COO for results. During the Forum they highlighted the importance ... >

What We Are Up To

  Mitch is working with Diane, the Ops Manager of a Furniture Retailer, time studying the order fulfillment process. It is hard to see, but the order-selector is down the aisle on a forktruck getting a sofa. >

What We Are Up To

  Mitch is working with a Grocery Retail & Distribution Company, teaching a select group of associates to be Lean Six Sigma Champions >

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“Supply Velocity gave us the tools to analyze our business and processes based on the facts and numbers versus our perceptions. Our common quote was “Let the numbers lead us”. The key for our organization was how quickly we moved from classroom to actual project initiation. We were able to jump in, start using the tools and see a difference right away.

The get-into-action approach was good for our culture.”

Ned Lane, President, CeeKay Supply

“I am thrilled to provide this testimonial for Supply Velocity and their outstanding work in implementing Lean Warehouses and processes at Crescent Parts & Equipment through the COVID pandemic. With their data-first focus and Mitch’s exceptional coaching and experience, they transformed our business into a more supply chain-oriented organization, enabling us to grow while prioritizing employee safety and creating a better work environment. Supply Velocity’s expertise in Lean methodologies and their comprehensive evaluation of our customers have been instrumental in optimizing our operations and increasing customer satisfaction. We highly recommend Supply Velocity to any company seeking to implement Lean processes and enhance their supply chain efficiency.”

Josh Cole, Director of Supply Chain, Crescent Parts & Equipment
“Isolating a problem, finding short, and long term solutions with measurable results is what was promised and results is what was delivered by Supply Velocity. Upon launch of the Lean Six Sigma Selling System, we knew more about our customers, our products, and were able to create a solid plan to increase sales of our most profitable products. Within months of implementation, our booked sales jumped 60% and our most valued customers were getting direct, active, and calculable attention.”
Mark A. Presker, General Manager, Architectural Millwork of St. Louis
“Mitch Millstein and his team helped guide our shop fabrication division in the re-layout of our custom pipe and steel fabrication facility when we moved into a new building. It is not only the results but how he helped. We were involved in every step. I personally did time studies and was able to see the non-value added steps required to manufacture in our old layout. When we created our new layout, everyone was involved, from the executive team to our direct labor force. With Mitch’s help we increased our throughput by a 3x multiple, while providing more competitive prices to our clients as a result of the efficiency improvements.

This has enabled us to not only make more money but also to expand our commercial reach and serve more, and larger customers. I would recommend Supply Velocity to any company that wants to make improvement in supply chain and operations.”

Geoff Gross, President, Gross Mechanical
“Supply Velocity is driving instrumental change in our inventory management processes. This is critical for us to be competitive in a supply chain environment with numerous disruptions. They are making change happen, which can be challenging in a 182 year old organization.”
Jim Carroll, Executive Vice President Operations, Schaeffer Manufacturing
“Myerson engaged Supply Velocity, specifically Ray Davis to visit our plant in Trinidad to conduct a two day assessment of our production procedures and provide us feedback on areas for improvement and where applicable, areas for future analysis.

Put simply, we got everything we paid for and in addition to more in depth analysis, we got specific tasks that were immediately actionable. Our local management team found Ray to be engaging, highly credible and insightful based on his wide experience. In other words the cultural differences and lack of specific industry knowledge weren’t impediments to things we could implement immediately and on our own. In a nutshell it was money well spent and will pay itself back many times over.”

Lee Hartwell CPA, Plant Manager, Myerson Tooth

“Your process encourages this group to work together, better communicate and have fun doing it.”

George Edinger, President, C&R Mechanical
“We engaged with Supply Velocity to help us embed process improvement at all levels of the business. Our team learned from Mitch to let the data drive decisions, to use Lean tools to help us see our processes critically and objectively, and to create a control plan to manage all of the tasks that were the outcome of the data study.

The project turned out to be very significant to the company and most importantly, our customers. We reduced our customer wait times by 40%, and cut in half the labor cost to fulfill customer orders.

Some results are not able to be measured. However, as a result of this project, we have started to build a Lean mindset and culture, which is part of our strategic mission to save our customers money. Supply Velocity has been a valued partner in this mission.”

Dionne Dumitru, COO, Weekends Only

“Supply Velocity created visibility within our Assurance Services Group… visibility of performance, Client-service, employee satisfaction and processing time. Using the Supply Velocity System, Audit Report Cycle time is down over 50%. We are using his strategies to create greater Client loyalty.”

Fred Kostecki, Partner-In-Charge, Assurance Services, Rubin Brown
“We used Supply Velocity on our Warehouse optimization project. One of the key characteristics of Supply Velocity is that they listened to our requirements and provided a clear path for our Warehouse processes using lean tools and our future sales growth as objectives.”
Haris Tokalic, President, Grand Rock, Inc.
“C&R was struggling with labor productivity. The construction crews were often missing materials that they needed to do their work. This caused significant idle time. Supply Velocity, Inc. and C&R used value stream mapping and visual management tools to make dramatic improvements in operations. Most importantly, two years later C&R is sustaining and improving on the implementation. C&R’s return on investment was 11:1. C&R had a record year last year in both sales and profits and would not have been able to pull it off without the changes Supply Velocity, Inc. helped us make.”
Tom Kuthe, V.P. Construction Operations, C&R Mechanical
“Anheuser-Busch Precision Printing had been implementing Lean Operations on our own for the past two years. We needed to move faster and partnered with Supply Velocity, Inc. Through Supply Velocity, Inc.’s mathematical workflow balancing and visual management tools, dramatic improvements were achieved. The entire converting operation was rearranged based on Lean principles. The result is a 20.6% productivity improvement, enabling us to operate with 23 fewer people in production.”
Rich Lavosky, General Manager, Anheuser-Busch Precision Printing

“In a time of volatile supply chain disruption, Supply Velocity is helping us develop Demand and Supply Planning processes to proactively tackle these new challenges. They are genuine partners, working with our team, facilitating and teaching.”

Jane Thrasher, Vice President of Supply Chain, Horizon Hobby
“In the spring of 2003, the St. Louis Area Chapter of the American Red Cross engaged Supply Velocity, Inc. to perform a study and make recommendations to streamline office processes, maximize cash flow in purchasing and warehousing and restructure and enhance our maintenance department. Supply Velocity, Inc.’s process was methodical, flexible, staff-oriented, inclusive and, above all, trackable.

In the last six months, our Chapter has realized expense savings of over $380,000 annually, and significant improvement in intra-company service levels has been attained. Supply Velocity, Inc. will return to the Chapter periodically throughout the next 18 months to audit our newly implemented processes. We have been pleased with our results and Supply Velocity, Inc.’s professionalism.”

Joe White, CEO, American Red Cross – Saint Louis Chapter
“In 2015 we began working with Dr. Mitch Millstein to optimize our inventory locations supporting e-commerce and in-store inventory needs. From this work we developed a new omni-channel warehousing and inventory plan that entirely redefined our approach to warehousing, inventory management, store distribution and fulfillment. As a result of the analyses by Dr. Millstein we have begun the move to an improved omni-channel design by reassigning MSAs to new warehouses, greater leveraging of in-store inventories to satisfy e-commerce demands, and exploring acquisitions of new warehousing space in strategic locations. We have already seen an improvement of $300,000 from both more efficient shipping strategies due to better inventory management.”
Rob Bowers, Vice President of Strategy, Total Hockey
“We are using Supply Velocity’s Lean Six Sigma methods to analyze a variety of processes including rationalizing SKUs (stock-keeping-units). By using math to evaluate SKUs we took some of the emotion out of our decisions. We expect significant increases in sales and productivity from reducing poor performing SKUs.”
Mark Kelso, Director of Process Improvement, Save-A-Lot
“Closure Medical recently completed a major reorganization in order to enhance our ability to rapidly create innovative medical devices. We hired Supply Velocity to help us map out the process and service flows of the new organization that would maximize our product development process (PDP). In four weeks, Supply Velocity helped us envision a new PDP structure, develop measures and accountability for each step, and gain consensus within the organization. Supply Velocity’s focus on speed and accountability helped us complete a critical project in a timely fashion.”
Gabe Szabo, Vice President, Product Development, Closure Medical – A Division of Johnson & Johnson
“We used Supply Velocity to rethink our sales process. By analyzing the entire process we found wasted time in our Sales, Admin and Operations departments. Streamlining this process created extra time for each Sales Rep, allowing them to spend more time with Customers and increase the value we add. Gross profit margins are up 40%!

We are now using Supply Velocity to help us rethink our entire Strategic Plan.”

Jeff Reitz, Vice President, Central States Bus
“For several years we have worked with Supply Velocity to support us with their expertise on Lean Operations and Supply Chain Management. Supply Velocity has helped us implement Lean, improve our inventory systems, and educate our people. They are professionals who are always available to help us as needed.”
Lorenza Pasetti, CEO, Volpi Foods
“Supply Velocity has helped Clean succeed in a number of ways. First, they provided the education that kicked off our Lean Process Improvement journey. They also facilitated a number of large supply chain and process improvement projects including: 1) building quality into our direct-labor productivity incentive program, 2) designing the layout of our garment warehouse, and 3) streamlining our route service process.

We have integrated the methods that Supply Velocity taught us into our management and strategic planning. In the process our quality measurement has improved 22% from 2013 to 2015, we have reduced required annual labor by 2200 hours from the garment facility layout project and we’ve seen 50% decrease in error rate. Obviously the numbers speak for themselves, but just as important, Supply Velocity has been fun to work and have become true partners. They have “taught us how to fish” so our internal teams are able to implement change on their own, with the skills we learned from Supply Velocity. This relationship has been invaluable.”

Jeff Lazaroff, Senior Vice President, Clean Uniform
“The role of the Erie Insurance Marketing Department has been evolving over the past several years – from a support role to a more critical role of driving growth in our organization. Because of our increased workload and desire to prioritize the most critical projects, we hired Supply Velocity to teach us the skills of Lean Six Sigma.

Participants included the Promotions, Market Research and Agency Licensing sections of the Marketing Department.

We learned valuable tools to help us to prioritize based on the voice of the customer.

I firmly believe these skills made a difference in how we work every day. We are moving new projects forward, eliminating or changing ineffective processes, and we are a much stronger department. We continue to use the tools to help us with our highly-complex and time-consuming projects. Supply Velocity helped us to accomplish our goals.”

Karen Rugare, Director of Marketing, Erie Insurance
“In thirty years of hiring consultants, Supply Velocity, Inc. was the first to tell me what they were going to do, set a price they stuck to and substantially exceed my expectations. I have recommended them to friends and acquaintances. They were true partners in assisting with the turnaround of an acquisition we had been struggling with for two years.

Their math-based technology, solid down-to-earth facilitation skills, and positive, patient and enthusiastic attitude combined to make our implementation of Lean a very rewarding experience.

We increased our production by 50% in the first month of implementation and continue to see improvements. Improvements have not only been realized in productivity, but also in quality and morale. We have increased profitability by $2M on flat sales of $10M.

Based on Supply Velocity, Inc.’s integrity and our results, I will continue to refer them to others and utilize them in the future as we expand our company through acquisitions.”

Bill Gilbert, President, Fusion Coatings
“Our experience with Supply Velocity was one of the best values we have ever had from a consulting project. Cyril Narishkin brought a structured lean methodology, invaluable experience and engaging facilitation skills to help us streamline a very complex and disjointed sales order process. Just as importantly, our team now has the knowledge and process competencies to address other business improvement opportunities going forward.”
Mike Howard, CEO, Aspeq
“Supply Velocity has provided the technical expertise and political capital to move our project forward. They have just the right amount of push and the right amount of support. Supply Velocity has helped us make real changes to improve efficiencies in logistics without jeopardizing our performance. We’re happy and our customers are happy.”
David Walters, President, Hy-C
“Supply Velocity’s Lean Six Sigma System has given us new tools to help improve our sales performance. We have learned new ways to analyze our business which makes problem solving more accurate and has made us better leaders.”
Rachel Andreasson, Executive Vice President – Marketing, Wallis Companies
“We are pleased that Essex selected Supply Velocity, Inc. as our Lean Implementation Partner. At one facility, we have saved over $350,000 in work-in-process inventory, reduced throughput time from 2 weeks to minutes and increased inventory turns 3 to 8 times per year. All these results are in just 6 months. Our return of investment is very high.”
Terry Etter, Vice President of Operations , Essex Medical Systems
“Many thanks to all three Supply Velocity presenters. I think you guys took a very difficult time for learning and capitalized on everyone’s time and training needs. I truly hope this helps your business as this was a considerable undertaking on the part of Supply Velocity. Outstanding!!”
Mark Holdinghausen, VP of Operations, DEMA Engineering