The countertop fabrication business is one of the more chaotic manufacturing processes to manage. Most manufacturing experts would be in agreement that it is probably THE most chaotic. There are so many variables to account for.
Different types of material, every job is custom, machines that may not be working, employees that aren’t giving 100% (or even caring to show up), customers changing their minds or their schedule. When you walk into work, do you feel the chaos? Wondering what fire you need to put out next?
Enter Synchronous Solutions. This organization, with its proven track record, raving clients, and years of research, will bring calm, clarity, and profitability.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Ed Hill the founder of Synchronous Solutions about just this…bringing order to the chaotic atmosphere of a countertop shop. Ed’s story of how he got into helping the countertop industry is an interesting one.
He was working his way up in the textile and garment industry and after 14 years had earned himself a good reputation. So much so, he caught the attention of Clemson University and received a life-changing phone call one afternoon.
The university was starting a research and development project on manufacturing and they asked Ed to lead it. They were looking for a non-academic to travel the world in search of the best manufacturing practices and the most innovative technical equipment. For anyone who loves business and manufacturing, this was an opportunity of a lifetime!
Ed traveled to countries throughout the world visiting all different types of manufacturing sites. Since he was in academia, he was never treated as a competitive threat so he was able to learn a tremendous amount. He traveled from Hong Kong to South America to Europe…literally every corner of the world. When he happened upon a plant in Sweden his quest ended….he found the key to it all—The Theory of Constraints. And this theory is the backbone of his company’s philosophy.
Upon his return, Ed lectured, wrote papers, and consulted large corporations that sponsored his work. One of those large companies was Dupont. They had a brilliant idea. If they could make their customers (fabricators) more efficient and profitable, they would receive more orders for their Corian. Ed worked closely with twelve large fabricators throughout the United States and he applied the knowledge and expertise he had gained. Every fabricator had tremendous results. All of the companies noted the number one benefit across the board was less chaos and more control.
From there, he expanded to help other fabricators and by 1996, he left Clemson to start the first incarnation of his company, Synchronous Solutions. The goals of his work are to help fabricators make more money, increase velocity and reduce chaos. In talking with Ed and reading what his clients have said about him these goals just scratch the surface. They omit the facts of his dedication and commitment to his clients.
Three things really stood out to me as we were discussing his clients and their successes.
The process that Synchronous Solutions uses to demonstrate the Theory of Constraints is genius. This could be a complicated equation to teach all different departments but they illustrate it using poker chips and dice. The management team sits in a circle with chips in front of them. The beginning of the circle is raw material and the end is installation. With each turn of the dice, they pass poker chips left to right, symbolizing variability and parts in the process that become weakened. This example is a clear way to explain the fabricator’s manufacturing steps and what constraints keep them from optimal throughput. All the “players” can see how their specific department can affect others.
Synchronous Flow works with the client until they have the new systems down which usually takes 4-6 months. But this isn’t where the relationship ends…..
When speaking to Ed about his clients, there are no past or current clients, they are all part of the Synchronous Flow family. Dave Paxton of Paxton Countertops adds, “Ed is a true friend and mentor.” Ed talks to all clients regularly if they have problems or need some help troubleshooting. Ed says, “Our clients are customers for life.”
The dedication that Synchronous Solutions has to their clients is proven in the 9:00 am calls that Ed hops on with all of their clients every day…every time zone. The meetings take place so clients’ different managers can analyze where the shop stands in meeting their goals. The collaboration is a natural by-product of Ed’s work with fabricators.
The Team Building
The effect Synchronous Flow has on the company goes beyond profitability. Brian Burns of Cutting Edge Countertops says, “They helped enhance the company’s culture of being helpful and caring towards one another.” Because all departments are working towards a common goal, a team environment is fostered instead of pointing fingers at the problem areas and people. The level of engagement between departments increases and this causes profitability to increase….and customers even notice!
Thank you Ed for all of your time… it’s always fun talking to someone who loves fabricators and wants to see them succeed as much as we do. We also learned that Ed is a talented woodworker, spending his time creating magnificent bowls, furniture, and custom writing pens out of wood. He and his woodturning club make wig stands for women to place their wigs while going through cancer treatment. Ed Hill, a brilliant mind and generous heart!
Ed added at the end of our conversation that part of decreasing shop chaos is knowing where your parts are in the production process. As companies get bigger labeling parts with a grease pencil becomes a nightmare. And we know a place that can help with that!
Contacts and Resources:
Synchronous Solutions has two divisions. Synchronous Flow is for larger fabricators (5-10 million) and ActionCOACH caters to smaller fabricators (1-4 million). To find more information and to book a consulting call visit https://synchronoussolutions.com. Ed highly recommends reading the book that inspired his work and where he discovered the Theory of Constraints.
The Goal is written by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. And if you are getting tired of the grease pencil visit https://speedlabel.net.