More with less

Matthew K. Hlavin, president, Thogus Products Cos.

With the manufacturing industry in flux from the economic downturn, Thogus Products Cos. had to let go 33 percent of its work force. But what seemed like an overwhelming task — finding a way to do the same amount of work with a third less people — challenged the company to evolve and make changes that have transformed the business for the better.

The goal was to find a way to maintain quality production but to do it with what was now a much smaller work force. Under the leadership of Matthew K. Hlavin, president of Thogus, the first step was working with the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) to find consultants that could help the company reduce costs in production processes. Partnering with the consultants, Thogus developed new metrics to drive decision-making and focused on value-added rather than non-value-added areas for customers.

Using time studies to monitor operations, which involved setting up videos at each press, the company was able to identify the right people and the right lean manufacturing processes and programs that could reduce waste for the business. For example, instead of having 12 people for 12 machines, evaluation of operations proved that with better training and automation 12 employees could actually run 25 machines.

The culmination of these efforts has been substantial. The result was throughput growing from $43 to $130, up-time percentage increasing from 33 percent to 60 percent, and on-time percentage improving from 83 percent to 98 percent. It’s no surprise that within just two years, the company’s sales have more than doubled from $7 million to $16 million. Today, Thogus continues to work with MAPP and similar organizations to find new ways to improve operational processes and production efficiency. Recently, the leadership team implemented a documentation processes called “Thoganomics” in which members record how they spend their time each day, allowing the company to pinpoint wasteful activities and inefficiencies.

How to reach: Thogus Products Cos., (440) 933-8850 or

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