Toyota is focused not just on its own work force, but on using its methods to encourage job growth generally in North America and for philanthropic efforts.
About 20 years ago, the company set up the Toyota Production System Support Center, a nonprofit that aims to help small and midsize businesses, as well as other nonprofits, like the New York Food Bank. The beneficiaries need not be in Toyota’s supply chain. Instead, the company hopes to help smaller companies throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico streamline their operations and, in the process, retain and perhaps increase the number of jobs.
Mr. Bonini, who leads the company’s North American efforts, said that the organization had worked with the furniture-maker Herman Miller, the theater-seating company Irwin Seating and Ace Metal Crafts Company, among others.
Jean Pitzo is the chief executive of Ace Metal, based in Bensenville, Ill., near O’Hare International Airport, which fabricates components for food-processing equipment.
Ace applied to the Toyota center and was accepted in 2014.
Mr. Bonini helped the company with the welding part of its business, which was often a production bottleneck. Together, they worked on streamlining, eliminating waste and improving employee engagement. As a result, Ms. Pitzo said, her business has grown “an easy 30 percent” and profits have gone up. The main reason is that we cut our lead time on new orders by 50 percent.”
But, Mr. Desloge advises, don’t try lean processes on your family. “When people understand lean, they will frequently bring it home, suggesting to their husband or wife that there’s a better way of loading the dishwasher,” he said. “That typically doesn’t go over very well.”