This week I attended Noria Corporation’s Lean, Reliable & Lubed 2008 Conference in beautiful downtown Nashville, Tennessee. My hat’s off to the staff at Noria for a simply outstanding job delivering a world class event. Special thanks to Paul Arnold, Editor of Reliable Plant Magazine for hosting the Lean Manufacturing program and inviting me to speak about our lean journey at Batesville Casket Company. And I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Drew Troyer, CEO of Noria Corporation, for taking time to personally help me find the right location (after a room change) for my scheduled interview even though this occurred just barely 20 minutes before he gave his keynote address. What an outstanding example of customer focus and unselfish service to others!
Although the majority of the over 1,500 in attendance were primarily drawn to the Reliable World and Lubrication Excellence segments of the conference, I was excited to see an overall interest in lean manufacturing from many of the participants. More and more companies are exploring the lean approach and judging from the representatives in attendance this week, it appears that they are making an effort to learn as much as possible based on all their excellent questions and participation.
It was a great conference to hear and discuss many lean topics from well know lean presenters and a few new ones like myself. The best way I judge a conference is if in the middle of several of the presentations, I have this insanely strong urge to jump out of my seat to improve our processes based on what I was learning. This happened several times to me during this conference and I wanted to rush back to Batesville Casket to try some new ideas ASAP. I can’t wait for our upcoming kaizen event on Tuesday.
For me personally, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet face-to-face for the first time with my friend, Karen Wilhelm, writer extraordinaire for AME/Target and her lean blog, Lean Reflections. Karen has some wonderful insights on the world of lean and I truly look forward to reading more from her in the future. I also had the great pleasure of meeting two new friends, Ross Robson, Former Executive Director of the Shingo Prize and Mike Thelen, Lean Facilitator for Hub City. Both gave great presentations filled with wisdom and passion for continuous improvement along with many points adding to my lean knowledge. Mike has led some great improvement efforts and sustained some excellent lean practices like their daily gemba walk at Hub City. And thanks Ross for the $$ for winning your quote challenge. As seen in the picture above, (from L to R: Ross Robson, Mike Thelen, Karen Wilhelm, and me-Mike Wroblewski), we had just finish a great lean discussion over lunch.
As an added bonus, I had the opportunity to meet the great racing legend and past Indianapolis 500 race winner, Mario Andretti. What an unexpected pleasure to meet such a legendary race car driver, fierce competitor and true gentleman.