Tropical Cheese Industries began as a milk delivery route started by Rafael Mendez. Mr. Mendez started with a single used truck servicing the Hispanic community. That single route grew into a company with 300+ employees that processes and distributes cheese, drinkable yogurt and sour cream along with other Latin food products to bodegas, supermarkets, mass merchandisers, and club stores primarily on the east coast.
Joe Vicini, Vice-President of Manufacturing contacted NJMEP to request assistance to improve the management and leadership skills of his team. Although his people were enthused and hardworking, most were home-grown and with no experience in other companies. They had problems in communicating (top-down and across), disseminating information, goal-setting, finding the root cause of problems, and developing their subordinates. The result was production interruption causing increased downtime, lower productivity, delays in schedules and delivery, and ultimately reduced employee and customer satisfaction.
Although front-line employees had gone through training in Team Building, Communication, and Conflict Resolution and supervisors had gone through “First-Line Supervisor” training, there still were problems.
NJMEP met with Mr. Vicini, to determine the best approach for solving his problems. A two phase plan was developed. Phase 1 would train a group of supervisors and management. The goal being to reinforce past general management and leadership training and have a strategy to implement the skills learned.
Phase 2, which included top management, management, and key supervisors, was designed to:
- Provide them with an overview of the training delivered to the Phase 1 group of supervisors and management. The goal was to help top management learn the same skills but more importantly help them formulate policies to be applied company-wide.
- To help them formulate action plans to reinforce the training and put it to use.
The expected deliverable of the program—a group action plan on how to manage information flow, communication systems, and performance, and how to set up interaction between the people and teams.
Groups of Management and Supervisors met for 3 hrs once a week for 6 weeks. The course work was built on the previous trainings. Specific elements of the program were customized to address the challenges Tropical Cheese was experiencing. Projects were implemented that would incorporate specific skills; results identified and reported out to the management team.
- Tropical Cheese’s business environment greatly improved
- Staff became more effective
- Increased efficiency resulted in a 2% reduction in operational cost
- Increased order fulfillment by 5%
- Hired 3 new employees
Mr. Vicini, explained, “We have found NJMEP’s training on Management Development helpful. This training was more in depth than prior training, more psychology. Our objective for the supervisory development training was to help them learn to delegate tasks and we accomplished that.” He added, “We are the master of change. We needed a cultural change, one that would empower our employees …and this training did that. We were able to create a structure that would promote the transparency of information and enable us to react to problems faster. We see the need for continuous improvement, and plan to continue working with NJMEP to assure that takes place.”
This Success Story was featured in the August 2013 edition of Manufacturing Matters. Click here to return to the newsletter.