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Business Students Visit Steelcase Athens

October 24, 2013

ATHENS, Ala. - On October 8th 2013, Steelcase Athens hosted a site visit for 50 faculty and students from Athens State University, College of Business. The students were from classes that focus on Logistics, Supply Chain Management, Accounting, MIS, and Operations Management. They toured the plant to see first-hand how lean principles and processes are practiced throughout the facility.

“It’s part of our daily work culture,” said Don Byford, the Lean Team Supervisor. The plant tour focused on how materials are received, processed in manufacturing, and then moved through the Facility Distribution Center en route to the customer.

As a highlight to the evening, the students gained access to what the plant calls the “Nerve Center” – otherwise known as Communication Central. Doug Batdorff, the Steelcase plant manager, explained that the “Nerve Center” serves as a hub for communication, accountability, metrics, and lean projects. Each of the value streams, or production areas, provide real-time data feeds to the hub. Four Lean Management System, LMS, meetings are held daily in the hub to discuss potential disruptions to customer orders, thus impacting productivity and profitability. Mr. Batdorff told the students that Steelcase looks for management candidates with strong problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The ability to recognize a problem, determine the root cause, and then present a solution with the least disruption to productivity is a skill that is required in a competitive, global manufacturing environment. The tour ended with an insightful, impromptu Q&A with both groups huddled in his office. Students listened intently as Mr. Batdorff explained his daily standard work and how he runs such a large operation.

“Athens State University and Steelcase have had a wonderful working relationship for years,” said Ronnie Knox. “Their commitment to serving the community in which they do business, and championing the educational development of local students, is a great asset to our area.”

The event was organized by Susan Calhoun, Steelcase Materials Planning and adjunct faculty member at Athens State University, along with Michelle McCoy, a recent graduate of Athens State University and Steelcase Material Planner. Steelcase tour guides included Don Byford, the Lean Team Supervisor, Chuck Blystone, Supervisor Material Handling and Distribution, Doug Danley, Materials Transformation Team, Wes Allen, the Factory Distribution Center Lead, and Pearl Bridgeforth. Representatives from Athens State University were Guy McClure, the Athens State Director of Marketing, Public Relations and Publications, Stacie Hughes, Assistant Professor of Accounting, Linda Hemingway, Associate Professor of Accounting, Sam Khoury, Assistant Professor of Logistics and MIS, Kim Roberts, Assistant Professor, Operations Management, and Steve Cox, Assistant Professor of Management.


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