Well, my first trade show is over.  It was a good experience!  I learned a lot (about being a vendor at a trade show instead of an attendee) and met some good people that are working hard to improve their organizations.


I made a quasi-three-dimensional tour of the vendor area.  You can view that here, if you’d like.  (It’s made with Photosynth…you’ll need Internet Explorer…sorry FireFox and Chrome users).

Also made some contacts at a couple of partnership opportunities.  Hung out in the booth next to Glenn Davis of VenTek.  He’s got some cool remote sensing technology that’s worth a look…and it appears they’re might be some synergy between the hardware they provide and Thrive.  Also spent some time talking with Mike Bresko of General Physics.  They help many of the country’s Fortune 500 companies to "achieve operational excellence" (a throwback for me to the original Compass tag-line…"Compass" being the original name for Thrive before some trademark concerns…trip down memory lane displayed below).  Check them out if you need consulting or training services.

Compass throwback logo!


Some Summaries

While I didn’t attend them all, I did go to some of the keynotes.  I’m just taking a quick scan of my notes, and will probably end up highlighting some pretty arbitrary stuff here, but here goes!

Klaus Blache, General Motors

Klaus kicked off the whole event on Monday.  He had some pretty diverse experiences with General Motors, including transforming the culture to lean at both existing GM facilities and at newly created ones.  Interesting connection that Klaus made through data during his experiences was an indirect connection between ergonomics and quality.  Ergonomics impacting peoples’ attendance, and poor attendance impacts quality.


Also, I loved Klaus’s presentation because somehow he managed to get his hands on some pretty old-school slides!  It’s like they’re out of some film produced in the 1970’s.  Good stuff!

slide1 slide2

Rick Fox, Alcoa Power Plant

Rick "chaired" a panel discussion with some other Alcoa employees.  They rattled off some impressive statistics about their successes through lean, including a $5 million ROI, 2 years without a recordable injury, and a maintenance backlog that went from 22 weeks down to 3-5 weeks.  And they shared an interesting statistic that the price of electricity changes every 6 minutes…woah!

David Hicks, Auburn University

I thought David had an excellent presentation and certainly disproved my generally held belief that people from academic institutions are often out of touch with the "real world" (wherever that is, anyway).  The Auburn University Technical Assistance Center surely gets my endorsement if you’re in need of assistance.  What really stood out in his presentation was their use of visual performance/information boards.


Todd Bennett, United Southern

Todd’s and United Southern’s (USI) is a great story that is still unfolding.  With significant competition in the plastic injection molding industry, USI has had to adopt a tremendous change in culture just to stay in business.  Through "zone control" on the shop floor, they have been able to drive significant improvement in quality, delivery, safety, and cost.  Some of the more impressive stats are that they took PPM down from 3417 to 255 in just two years and have an approximate annual savings of $80K in scrap costs, which for a company their size (I forget, but I believe it’s less than 100 people), makes a tremendous impact.

Okay, Worn Out

Alright, that’s about all the summarizing I can do for now.  In the meantime, I’m thinking about some future shows: one of which is in Florida in April (can’t find their web site right now) and the other is the GATF/PIA Continuous Improvement Conference in Lexington, KY in April.  Maybe see you there!