The buck stops here Featured

1:02pm EDT August 26, 2003
The story goes like this: Ohio State was beating Michigan 44 to 14 when the Buckeyes scored again. Legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes decided to go for the two-point conversion, which subsequently failed, leaving the final score 50 to 14.

When asked why he decided to go for two points, Hayes replied, "Because I couldn't go for three."

What does this have to do with manufacturing and Glass Equipment Development? Well, everything, if you ask Ron Auletta, president of GED and a self-proclaimed Hayes fan.

"A lot can be learned from the game of football and what the Bucks were able to do in two short seasons," says Auletta, referring to Ohio State's recent national championship. "Finding the right coaching or management team was the final ingredient to the Buckeyes' success."

Leadership, however, is just one part of a company's ability to succeed. Auletta says you also need employee participation, accountability and empowerment.

"The old perception is, 'Who would want to work in a factory?'" says Peter J. Chojnacki, director of marketing.

But times have changed. In the last six years, Auletta has moved GED, a glass fabrication machinery manufacturer, away from dangerous, unrewarding factory work and toward the world of clean, lean manufacturing.

"Since 1996, we have the same amount of people working here, but we manufacture much more," says Auletta. "We reduced floor space and tripled sales. Now we make only one machine's worth of parts."

Add to that a 96 percent on-time machine development rate and a 100 percent install rate, and the result is a highly efficient operation. The key to that efficiency is communication with employees.

"There are no surprises ... any issues, anything wrong, and it's up on the board," says Chojnacki. "The metrics are on the board, even whether or not we are on time for shipping."

The board is where GED employees are informed of everything from shipping commitments to financial projections.

"Anyone on the floor can stop a machine from shipping," says Chojnacki. "Everything is measured on its quality at the end of the line ... there is not a lot of finger-pointing."

The idea is that employees become empowered to make decisions, but it was not an easy transition.

"It took several years to change from an 'I'm doing the best we can' to 'What can I do better?' mentality," says Auletta. How to reach: Glass Equipment Developers Inc., (330) 425-3876