Lee Linear® of Piscataway, NJ was founded as Lee Controls in 1967 in Berkeley Heights, NJ. The company grew into an established manufacturer of precision hardened shafting, and in 2005, ownership changed hands to three long-time employees — Jed Kanter, Jim Ashworth and Mike Mazepa — along with Alan Haveson, former owner of Eastern Bearing Co. of Elizabeth, NJ.
The company currently has 46 employees. Among its products are shaft support rails and blocks; patented roller bearing pillow blocks; slide tables; carriage locks; linear ball bearings; and ceramic and Teflon® bearings. Lee Linear® is the exclusive U.S. distributor for SBC Linear Co., Ltd. and has a customer base of both domestic and international clients.
NJMEP first contacted Lee Linear® via telemarketing efforts in 1999. Following the 2005 ownership change, Field Agent Lorna Runkle’s meeting with Mr. Haveson led to a business assessment, a training needs analysis and submission of a training grant application with the NJ Department of Labor Customized Training Program. Third party resources Joe Pranzo of IKP Logistics and Bill O’Malley of Marketech were brought on board to assist with the project.
The initial business assessment revealed a need to develop and implement concerted sales and marketing efforts and improve internal administrative and manufacturing procedures and processes. Lee Linear®’s owners decided that the company would lay out a strategic “road map” to meet its new goals.
Following approval of the grant application for all requested courses, Field Agent Runkle began with a series of management coaching sessions involving the four company owners and spoke with company employees as orientation for their upcoming training. She helped to choose the participants, recruited the most appropriate trainers and scheduled the training to accommodate the company’s schedule. Runkle attended numerous training sessions to help ensure client satisfaction, maintain high training standards and gather feedback from the participants. Lee Linear®’s upper management employees attended the training to display their commitment to the project and to keep employees involved and motivated. Other participants included office employees and all of the floor production team.
Lee Linear® continued its Lean efforts following the expiration of the one-year training grant, participating in Runkle’s Lean User Group to help member companies to benchmark themselves and each other on Lean and other manufacturing concerns. The user group has enabled members to host plant tours and meet to discuss their Lean successes and challenges, helping all involved to continuously learn and remain committed.
According to Lee Linear® CEO Haveson, the physical changes in the plant, the higher employee morale and overall improved efficiency all show that the Lean training and implementation efforts contributed to the project’s ongoing success. A $200,000 investment in new equipment added to the improvements and job opportunities for seven new employees.
Lee Linear plans to continue working with NJMEP, pursuing additional grant opportunities in an effort to maintain growth and meet the evolving challenges of today’s economic climate. Both parties anticipate following up on their training in Lean manufacturing, sales and marketing, and organizational development. Lee employees will attend the next Lean User Group meeting, scheduled for September 2007.
“The successful implementation of this program, and the improved perspective it provided on processes, provided visual and ‘hands-on proof’ to company personnel that their jobs were ensured, rather than phased out,” explained Haveson. “In addition, it sent a strong message to the company union that Lee was committed to remain in business and properly acknowledge the contributions by employees.
“The theory of Lean, for the effort to be successful, must be viewed in the context of the industry in which a project is employed,” Haveson continued. “Not all industry can be managed as an automobile assembly plant. To really be successful, a company needs to step back and view its processes and procedures, and implement the complimentary Lean methods. They do work!” he concluded.
Lee Linear is a participant in NJMEP’s Made in New Jersey program. Click here to view their profile!