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Join the (Lean) Journey

Matt Schwarze headshotBy Matt Schwarze, Business development specialist

Coming off our 10-year celebration at Traverse City’s Right Brain Brewery, the Northern Michigan Lean Learning Consortium (LLC) has more momentum than ever! We are stretching across 13 northern counties with our 54 member companies, connecting us with more than 900 diverse organizations across the state through our partnership with the Michigan Lean Consortium. All of this was made possible by the LLC’s founding members in January of 2008, including:

  • Larry Teifenbach, Ken Osborne, Mark Klug - Boride Engineered Abrasives,
  • Annette Roman - Hagerty
  • Bruce Stephens and Teri Lami - Skilled Manufacturing
  • Darby Hiller - Northwestern Michigan College
  • Richard Wolin and Darrell Rogers – NMC Training & Research
  • Jim Wujkowski and Patricia Malone - Second Chance Armor
  • Tyler Cerny - Strata Design

The growth and success of the LLC over the last decade can ultimately be traced to these individuals for setting the foundation for collaboration — to help build a support network for companies pursuing lean practices as they build their own successes.

A key component of the LLC is its Best Practice tours. At the increasingly popular monthly events, consortium members get a special insider’s look at a manufacturing facility that is somewhere along its lean journey. In the best spirit of collaboration, these companies are welcoming their manufacturing industry peers into their operations -- showcasing their wins, discussing their challenges and identifying their next steps along their lean adventures. They are open about their experiences and also soliciting fresh perspectives as they continue to move forward. It is inspiring for the attendees to see what other companies are doing. It’s also validating to see the common issues and challenges we all face as we try to improve our operations.

Along with our Best Practice tours, all consortium members are invited to the Lean Office and Lean Manufacturing Champion celebrations following the completion of Training Services’ six-month course. At these events, newly-minted Champions take you through their journey, highlighting their successes and reporting their impacts.

We are very lucky to be in a region such as northern Michigan, where we embrace a culture of change and continuous improvement to “make great things” even better. The LLC is a great way to stay connected and current with lean technologies and trends, and collaborate with other lean thinkers from the region sharing best practices. We look forward to the next 10 years, continuing to grow our consortium, and being recognized as a leader in lean and a great place to own and operate a business.

Matt Schwarze
MMTC-North Region at Northwestern Michigan College
1701 East Front Street; Traverse City, MI 49686
(231) 995-2009

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