Interview: SPEEDlabel® and Front Range Talk Organization
Fellow Fabricators, SPEEDlabel® is making its way across the US and we can’t thank you enough.
What a ride the last two and a half years have been. When we look at this map of customers throughout the United States we are humbled by the fact that you’ve trusted our product to help you organize your shops and infuse accountability into your operations. Fabricating countertops is not an easy business. Our operating principles have always been rooted in finding solutions for ourselves and getting those ideas to you, our fellow fabricators. It’s been so exciting to see some of the smallest ideas we’ve shared being implemented in your own shops.
Thank you to all of our customers on this map who have made SPEEDlabel® your “go-to” when it comes to organizing your countertops. We are grateful that so many of you have trusted a new process to alleviate the painful reality that countertop fabrication has many moving (and breaking!) parts.
We want to zero in on one of our early adopters, Front Range Stone in Englewood Colorado. Front Range, who has been in business since 2001, is one of the larger shops in the country and serves the whole state of Colorado. It is an extremely efficient shop where time, labor, space and money are not wasted. They were recently written up in ISFA’s quarterly publication, Countertops & Architectural Surfaces magazine where owner, Brad Pearce says, “In the beginning, the company put its focus on technology and production processes that would lead to growth and putting out top quality products.” We know his commitment to technology and processes urged him to adopt our labeling system early on and as you can see in our below interview with Front Range (FR), SPEEDlabel® (SL) has enhanced their efficiency and quality control.
SL: What was the biggest surprise of how SPEEDlabel® helped your operations?
FR: The organization it brought to loading out with having an accurate piece count was huge. It meant pieces were not missing when the installers were on site.
Also, we quickly saw the advantage of having QC and accountability throughout the whole shop, not just at the end of the line. It was a great way to organize parts on the shop floor…and we didn’t realize we even needed that.
Having SPEEDlabel also cut down on labor costs. Sometimes a piece would make its way through the shop without getting checked along the way only to find out it wasn’t right at the very end. This cost us in machine time and reduced our throughput.
SL: Bringing in any new tool or process can be difficult to implement across the shop if you don’t have buy-in from your employees. Did you have problems with getting your shop on board with SPEEDlabel?
FR: We didn’t have a lot of trouble, mostly because we saw the value in using this new tool and we were pretty insistent it’s what was happening. It takes leadership and at the same time, it takes reminders. When I walked the floor to make sure our guys were using it, it showed them how important it was that we continue to use the labels. It didn’t take long at all to become second nature, but again, as we’ve learned from the past, it’s something you have to stay on top of in the beginning.
SL: What was the most difficult part of the transition to labels?
FR: It took some time for the front line guys to understand the benefits of using the labels but our floor leads began seeing the impacts immediately. The floor leads had to ensure each piece had a label on it. We implemented a protocol that it should not be moved to the next station if it didn’t have a label on it. It just took building new habits over time.
SL: What’s some advice you could give shops out there who are considering SPEEDlabel®?
FR: Explain the benefits to your employees before implementation and then use the program fully. It is only as good as the discipline is to use it.
SL: If SPEEDlabel® were to go away today…what would you miss the most?
FR: The ease of checking pieces throughout the entire process from programming to installation. Once you are used to reading the labels and getting all the information you need, it’s hard to imagine going back. I think our whole crew would agree.
SL: How does it help with communication?
FR: It gets everyone on the same page instantly. For example, if something is incorrect or broken, the operator is able to let a lead know which exact piece by taking the sticker to them. This saves a lot of time, especially on large commercial projects where many pieces look similar.
We think Front Range Stone holds common ground with every one of our customers….throughout their shops and in the field, all employees can be heard asking, “What does the label say?” There is tremendous power in that small label, and it gives your whole team a shared language that efficiently solves the problem at hand.
“Where is the 6th piece?”
“What side needs to be polished?”
“What size hole needs to be drilled onsite?”
“When will this be in production?”
“How many pieces need to be loaded for this job?”
The answer will always be….”What does the label say?”
In that same ISFA article, Brad Pearce stated, “Never be complacent in the pursuit of improvement.” We couldn’t agree more here at SPEEDlabel. We are committed to finding new avenues of growth and efficiency and will continue to share them with our community of customers. Thank you again for your trust in us.