Turning it around

Stephen Newlin, chairman, president and CEO, PolyOne Corp.

It was not looking good for PolyOne Corp. in March 2009. An equity research analyst, when asked to forecast the odds of PolyOne getting through the recession without having to file for bankruptcy, put the chances at slightly better than 50 percent.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying on PolyOne’s part. The provider of specialized polymer materials, services and solutions had launched a Lean Six Sigma program in late 2008. The goal was to ingrain the program into the company’s culture by addressing business process issues and performance strengths and flaws at every level of the organization.

Chairman, President and CEO Stephen Newlin relied heavily on Senior Vice President of Operations, Tom Kedrowski to identify opportunities for process improvement and to find ways to increase value to customers by benchmarking against the best of the best in manufacturing.

As these opportunities were identified, specific training and benefit targets were set and process improvement activities convened at PolyOne locations around the world.

One of the best examples occurred in the company’s performance products and solutions business unit. Current run quantities were leading to higher labor and changeover costs and the goal was to quantify the gap between optimal and current-run quantities and reduce it through better planning and scheduling.

A standardized tool with clear work instructions and operational definitions was developed through intensive work and the company achieved substantial reductions in operating costs.

Through efforts such as this initiative, when the calendar turned to August 2009, the same analyst who had expressed serious concerns about the future of PolyOne had changed his opinion and issued a buy recommendation for the company.

The company has continued its effort to streamline its operations and identify efficiencies and the result is an organization that is poised to achieve success well into the future.

How to reach: PolyOne Corp., (440) 930-1000 or www.polyone.com