Video: Governor applauds La-Z-Boy plant's vision
Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt toured the new cellular manufacturing department at La-Z-Boy Midwest plant Wednesday.
“I applaud the vision of La-Z-Boy Midwest and their work force for their commitment to this project,” Blunt said. “For a new approach such as lean cellular manufacturing to work, it requires everyone to ‘buy in’ and commit themselves. With the help of companies, like La-Z-Boy Midwest, and the pro-jobs, pro-growth initiatives we have enacted, we are making Missouri a better place to live, work and raise a family.”
Prior to Blunt’s tour, Renzo Bulgarelli, vice president of the local plant, gave background information about the new process.
“2005 was a very significant year for La-Z-Boy. In 2005, a group of lean pioneers entertained the thought of changing on how we make furniture,” Bulgarelli said. “Pretty risky business for a legacy company like ours. They got together and figured out to transform our manufacturing process by applying the principle of the production system into a lean-place flow process that is the new La-Z-Boy production system. The La-Z-Boy production system has changed our culture into a continuous improvement culture focused on value. The completion of this leg of our journey marks solid gain in productivity, quality, safety, morale and cost.”
La-Z-Boy Midwest began construction in May 1969 and the first four employees were hired in March 1970. In January of the following year, the building stood at 180,000 square feet, with 165 employees who produced 150 units per day. Today, there are 586,000 square feet and 1,100 employees.
Rather than cutting costs by moving jobs out-of-state or overseas, La-Z-Boy Midwest officials said they took a careful look at their operations and determined that they could find a better solution. The plant moved to lean cellular manufacturing, which means that each piece of furniture will be built by a team within a cell, instead of separately along on assembly line. Officials said this strategy, three years in the making,
dramatically cuts down on the amount of time to create a chair from two and a half days to only three hours. This allows for increased production and ensures an even higher quality of product.
“But what really drives our economy is the entrepreneural spirit of Missourians and the strong work ethic of Missourians,” said Blunt. “As I travel the country, one of these that I can boast about is the productivity of the workers, the wiliness of our workers to learn new skills, to be competitive in the global economy. And I believe, and obviously you all believe, that America can be competitive in global manufacturing. Because of your good work, I think that we are on the path of demonstrating that once again, that Americans working together can be competitive in global manufacturing. The real strength of our economy is hard-working, Missouri families that want to provide for themselves and their families and those great employers, like La-Z-Boy that are innovative and thoughtful about how they can maintain a competitive position.”
This year, Blunt signed legislation to support responsible economic development in Missouri and ensure the state remains competitive in the global marketplace. The legislation provides tax credits for companies that implement mega projects in Missouri.
Also, this year, the governor signed legislation, which contained several major provisions to build on strong economic growth and development in Missouri. The legislation increases the annual cap on the governor’s successful Quality Jobs Tax Credit Program from $40 million to $60 million and among other things, increases the amount of tax credits the Missouri Department of Economic Development may authorities for the Enhanced Enterprise Zone Program from $14 million to $24 million.
“This is a very exciting day, I know for Neosho, the county, and for the surrounding area,” said Blunt. “And it is an exciting day for our state, because it is another demonstration of the competitive spirit of the people of Missouri, of the wiliness to work together, to achieve great things for greater prosperity. I want to congratulate all of you.
I wish you all of the best.”
Neosho Daily News