LaForce has a forward-thinking, progress-oriented business culture. But as we solidify our company objectives for the coming year, it’s also important to reflect on the past year’s achievements. Besides increasing our staff size by 8%, we made great strides in all facets of our business. Read on for some highlights from 2016!
A huge accomplishment this year was the final conversion and integration into our new ERP software package: Microsoft AX. 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. Over 30 individuals dedicated 350,000 hours to make this several-year project a reality! This new software allows us to integrate multiple systems into one, and keep us fresh and innovative in our fast-paced industry. Our partners and customers should be confident in our ability to handle complex, multi-faceted jobs, thanks to Microsoft AX.
Continuous Improvement Staffing
We now have a dedicated team of lean professionals. We promoted two internal employees (Bob Ellenbecker and Ryan Hallberg) to be continuous improvement business analysts. They join our existing Industrial Engineer (Brad Johnson) in cultivating and implementing continuous improvement initiatives around the company. So far, this staff has undergone training and started to identify opportunities of focus for the coming year. We look forward to continuing our lean journey!
Facility Enhancements + Additional Services
Our Phoenix team now handles an additional 4,500 square feet of warehouse space. This space allows for greater capabilities in installation, pre-installation, and product storage, to give our customers quick, convenient access to needed items. This office also added a specifications consultant, Curtis Brannum, to bring LaForce’s architectural services to local firms.
Our Green Bay headquarters saw facility improvements this year, too. We repaved our parking lot and completely remodeled all break rooms and kitchenettes throughout the building. In addition, Green Bay now has a fully functioning second paint line. This allows us to meet customer demand with our meticulous painting process.
We are also excited to announce that customers in the Cincinnati area now have an additional brand option: Sargent, owned by ASSA ABLOY. We are excited to offer this complete hardware and key systems line to our Ohio customers. The Sargent product line is innovative, reliable, and high quality.
Finally, our Detroit office is still undergoing a massive expansion project, slated to finish in February 2017. The additional space will allow us to add staff, services, and storage capacity. More details about the Detroit additions will be outlined in a blog later this month!
Pre-Installation & Production Expansion
We expanded our pre-installation capabilities in both Green Bay and Cincinnati this year. Pre-installation is the process in which hardware such as hinges, door closers, exit devices, locks, electrified hardware, and flat goods are installed onto the doors prior to shipping to the jobsite. This helps our customers save time, meet deadlines, and experience a hassle-free jobsite installation. In addition, any product or manufacturing defects are caught and fixed prior to shipping, and we can recycle packaging at our shop, which saves jobsite waste.
In our Green Bay shop, we also added a second shift of personnel. These four workers, with a total output of 160 hours/week, allowed us to increase production and accommodate quick turnaround jobs.
Improved “SPS” Processes
An exciting role at LaForce – Small Project Specialist (SPS) – was expanded and streamlined this year. At LaForce, our large contract projects are only a portion of our business. “Small Projects” is an area that focuses on customer jobs that are less than ten openings. These types of projects prioritize speed and effective communication. With more highly trained SPS personnel on the team, we have increased our capacity and ability to best serve our customers that have smaller projects.
LaForce Leadership Shifts
In June, Brian Mannering (formerly President) was appointed President/CEO of LaForce. Former CEO, Ken Metzler, has continued at LaForce in the role of Chairman of the Board. With this leadership transition, LaForce has benefitted from Ken’s guidance and wisdom in addition to Brian’s many years of LaForce experience. The company is fortunate to have well-respected and long-tenured industry leaders at the helm.
In July, we promoted Josh Pascoe to be the Office Manager of our Indianapolis office. In addition, we promoted Tim Sizer to be the Office Manager of our Columbus office. These promotions, along with LaForce’s management and executive team, will continue to contribute to the long-term success and stability of LaForce.
Focus on Green Processes
This year, we also focused on energy conservation by replacing less efficient vehicles with more environmentally friendly transport. In addition, our Marketing team converted several internal communication newsletters into a digital format, to save paper. We also eliminated data entry redundancies and improved our processes this year, in thanks to Microsoft AX, our continuous improvement team, and our managers.