Factory Miracles

July Edition 2020

And while no one could have foreseen the global pandemic that hit in March, the cultural shift that resulted allowed Marianna to pivot their entire business in just 3 weeks. The agility allowed the team to switch production from shampoos and conditioners to hand sanitizer and hand soaps…keeping orders flowing and helping to get essential product into the hands of the American consumer.

This is a story of American ingenuity and could only happen with their ‘all hands on deck’ attitude.

Newly promoted Chief Operations Officer, Cory Jensen had grown through the ranks, working in a ‘draining’ culture that battled 400% staff turnover and resulted in reliance on 50% temporary workers. When he saw the results of an employee engagement survey, Cory knew something had to change. He knew that traditional shop floor software wasn’t going to turn the dial. It had to be about getting people thinking and interacting differently on the frontlines. “For us, the whole point was to give the people on the floor a voice and then for us to follow through with action.”

He had heard about a new breed of software from an industry connection, and it seemed to have made a big difference quickly. The more people he asked, the more seemed to have the same story; that connecting people seemed to be turning into results; increasing cooperation and problem solving on the frontlines and changing attitudes that people had held for years.

So they gave the teams ‘a voice’ that connected everyone to everyone else via the Redzone platform and the entire plant team jumped in with both feet! The frontline teams started using the forums, chats and action boards without training and soon conversations turned into collaboration to get the job done better, overcoming unexpected problems from day-to-day. Information that had been ‘general’ in the past, quickly became ‘specific’ to the blockages in whatever area they were dealing with. Comments and feedback flowed; production volumes increased immediately; and the biggest surprise was that this came from the frontline teams themselves.

From the Production Team to the Quality Team and then on to the Maintenance Team, that communication lit a spark in each individual and it caught on like wildfire. It began with Productivity but the same thing happened with Compliance; when one line got it, the next line wanted it too so they could compete with each other and get recognized. And once everyone was connected with Maintenance, the flood gates opened and everyone was driving to ‘Win the Day.’ Little by little, Marianna’s own people created the culture that snowballed into miraculous results.

People like Tiffany the Quality Inspection Supervisor whose role was transformed from administration and auditing to leading and coaching the frontline team for a safer and more compliant environment. “It’s so much easier.” she says, “It took out all of the paperwork, reduced manual steps and changed my role and how I interact with the people on the floor, and they have more ownership as a result.”

People like Mike Bevar, who went from being a line operator to a Maintenance Technician and led the integration of clean, inspect and lubrication into the operator’s daily activities. “The thing that has surprised me most is how much more engaged the operators are with the equipment now. In the event of an equipment issue, we always have a conversation about why.”

Cory added “I started to see how much further and faster we can go, when this new technology gets into the hands of the teams at the sharp end of the stick.”

People like Durga, who is from Nepal and had a difficult time getting his ideas out for people to understand. With an iPad in his hands, he could now take photos of the equipment, draw his ideas, and translate his words into the languages that others on the team (some non-native-English speakers) could understand.

His ideas found themselves getting acted upon, flowing to the Daily Forum via Redzone and worked on without hesitation.

If it felt ‘right’ and everyone was looking at it the next morning in the same stand up meeting, somehow the usual hesitations – going up and down chains of command – just seemed to dissolve away. The team just fixed stuff, the work improved and the collective will of the team just seemed to take over. This tool literally catapulted Durga’s contribution to another level to help the team ‘Win the Day.’

And win they did! Marianna Beauty won the Redzone Productivity of the Year award for 2019 due to their phenomenal productivity gains. Cory proudly quotes their productivity uplift of 50% in the first 90 days and the team continued to deliver a 93% gain in the coming months!

CEO Mike Cate shares his thoughts, “I want our people to know that we’re winners and we’re winners not only because we got an award, but because of the effort and the energy applied to obtain that award.” he said. “The thing that I was so excited about was seeing the real financial gains that came as a result of the work that Cory and the team did. Makes my job easy, man, delivering 40% more volume with the same or fewer people. I believe in delivering budgets because of people not on the backs of people.”

And Marianna has rewarded their people’s performance with pay raises and promotional opportunities. “You have to reinvest in the people who get you home” says Mike. “It’s an incredible change” acknowledges Cory who describes “We went from a situation where we thought we were lacking talent, to one where we have a full ‘pipeline’ of emerging leaders from the shop floor.”

Cory and Mike aren’t the only ones who are proud. As Mike said, “You can bet that every team member in our business knew that we had won that award.” Just ask Production Supervisor Jamahl, who said “I felt recognized and very proud of our team, the whole company’s efforts had been noticed and we were worthy of winning an award out of all the companies who have Redzone.”

And from line-lead Becca, “I felt incredibly proud to be a part of a business that won an award, really felt like we accomplished something as a team. It was fun too, to have a company celebration with a plant-wide cook out!”

I felt incredibly proud to be a part of a business that won an award, really felt like we accomplished something as a team. It was fun too, to have a company celebration with a plant-wide cook out!

Fast forward to March, 2020 – and the unthinkable happened. The coronavirus engulfed the world in a global pandemic. Like many businesses outside of direct food production, it became all about survival. And although the world still needed shampoos and conditioners (albeit in reduced volumes), three of Marianna’s four major segments basically went away overnight. Their largest customer shutdown 98% of their operation, the cosmetology school distribution business, shut down, distribution of products through hair and nail salons just stopped.

In a matter of three weeks, Cory and the connected operations teams were able to pivot 75% of their production to hand sanitizers and hand soaps. Three weeks! In Mike’s words, “If we didn’t have the ability to pivot quickly, I’m not sure these doors would be open right now. Our new business processes enabled us to make that pivot, keep people safe through the communication process, but also stay productive. Cory has taken a real leadership role” says Mike, “he really drove things down to the floor level, created empowerment, and created team alignment that made sure we had accountability and ensured our success.”

Today, Marianna’s operations are thriving in spite of COVID-19. Thanks to this ‘all hands on deck’ approach (with an unlimited supply of soap and sanitizer), they are selling as much product as they can produce and their teams have adapted to the new normal of masks and social distancing on the frontlines. In fact, as the cover photo shows, they are quite fashionable with their masks – many produced by employees.