It has been a busy year at LaForce, with many external and internal initiatives completed. LaForce is proud to have a company culture of continuous improvement, so it is sometimes difficult to look over our shoulders at past accomplishments, since we are always searching for ways to improve in the future.
Today, let’s reflect on some of the promises LaForce fulfilled in 2015.
1. Improved Turnaround Times
One of the biggest priorities in construction is speed. LaForce made several improvements to improve our lead times for jobs and products in 2015. For example, we set out to improve the number of days between Notice of Contract (NOC) and the submittal of shop drawings, by adding resources and staff. We’ve now reduced this lead time, and will continue to work on this project in 2016.
2. Drove Environmental Consciousness
Over the past 12 months, we continued to focus on green improvements. The Cincinnati office replaced all of its warehouse lighting with new, energy-efficient bulbs. In addition, as fleet vehicles come up for replacement, we update them to fuel-efficient options. For example, our Ford E250 vans, which have an average of 14 MPG, have been replaced with Dodge Ram C/V’s and Ford Trans Connects, which have an improved MPG of 24. This saves an average of 750 gallons of fuel per year, per vehicle.
3. Increased Safety Awareness
LaForce has always stayed up-to-date on safety standards, but 2015 saw better internal communication and an uptick in company programs. We created a new sub-group of our safety committee that targets the well-being of shop workers. In addition, our on-site nurse now spends more time in the shop and also relates safety training through the company newsletter and employee intranet.
This increase in vocalization about safety priorities will also continue into 2016, with our new, employee-driven safety program. We understand the importance of safety and want to incentivize employees to promote it in their daily working lives.
4. Enhanced Employee Engagement
“Employee engagement” can refer to our company culture of fun company events, Wellness initiatives, and volunteering projects. But employee engagement is also very important on the professional side, and this year we built better internal communications. For example, we made a conscious effort to respond to voicemails within 24 hours. In addition, employees became more involved with the details of everyday projects that affect their day-to-day jobs. This leads to better employee retention and dedication.
As LaForce continues to grow, this focus on employee communication is even more imperative. Speed is key for our customers, and the progress that we made on transmitting information internally in a clearer, more efficient manner has truly made a difference this past year.
5. Expanded Pre-Finishing and Pre-Installation Services
This year, both our pre-finishing and pre-installation sectors grew significantly. Using LaForce’s pre-finishing service allows customers to match their new doors and frames to the colors of other openings in their building. The doors are painted in a controlled environment, which reduces flaws in the paint, and also saves time on the overall construction project. The paint is high-quality and industrial-grade, which helps prevent rust and corrosion over time. This year, we enlarged our shop area that is dedicated to pre-finishing, including a brand-new sanding booth.
LaForce’s pre-installation service results in hardware that is installed prior to shipping to the job site. This service eliminates on-site errors of incorrect pieces and installation by non-experts, since the correct hardware is installed by professionals prior to shipment to the customer. In 2015, we worked towards doubling this portion of our business, including expansion to new markets.
6. Amplified AX
A huge internal project over the past few years has been implementing our new ERP software package, Microsoft AX. This overhaul will affect nearly all LaForce employees and improve customer and vendor interactions. This Tier 1 enterprise business solution has been customized specifically for the door and hardware industry to provide tight integrations from order to fulfillment, using the products and process requirements unique to our industry. A large team of experienced LaForce employees have modeled and tested the software for several years to ensure a smooth transition for our customers and vendors. With AX, LaForce will be positioned with a comprehensive software platform that will take them into the 2020’s.
While the launch of AX will be in early 2016, we made tremendous progress on building and testing this software, as well as training employees on its usage, throughout the past 12 months. Customers will see increased speed and efficiency thanks to Microsoft AX.
LaForce would like to thank our nearly 500 employees for their hard work and focus throughout 2015. We have made great strides on these and many more projects, and look forward to continuous improvement in 2016!