BEHIND THE SCENES | ENTREPRENEURS WHO MAKE GREAT THINGS HAPPEN
Inside a Factory Makeover
How Filson created a production facility as fresh as its hip outdoor apparel--and boosted luggage output 50 percent. Roll over the numbers below to take a closer look.
No more eating at the workstations
The kitchen in Filson’s old factory was cramped and featured only two small tables. As a result, most of the company’s 100 or so production workers ate lunch at their worksta- tions. The new facility has a spacious break room with several tables, an array of appliances, and lockers for storing personal belongings. “Now, people get an actual break at lunch- time,” says Whittaker, who has worked at Filson for 21 years.
Going with the flow
The production floor is more than 12,000 square feet larger than the previous one. It is broken into three departments, each of which includes roughly 32 workstations and focuses on making 10 types of products at any given time. Previously, workstations were organized by machine. Now, they are arranged according to the flow of the production process, represented at left by the colored arrows: Each bundle snakes up and down the aisles seam- lessly rather than moving across the room between steps. “It saves a huge amount of time, and nothing gets lost,” Whittaker says.
Zen and the art of manufacturing
Transparency was a key part of Filson’s vision for the new building, says CEo Alan Kirk. The lobby features two walls of windows that look directly onto the production floor. The windows were originally designed to give visitors a peek at the manufacturing process. Production workers also like looking out at the serene lobby, which includes a rock garden, plants, and a grand staircase. “They tell me it’s like a Zen garden,” Whittaker says. “All those rocks have a calming effect.”