New York Label & Box: A Deming-Inspired Company

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Guest post by John Hunter, author of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog (since 2004).

The W. Edwards Deming Institute® website includes several articles exploring organizations that are applying Deming’s ideas. One of those articles looks at the efforts at New York Label & Box.

Steven Haedrich, President New York Label & Box:

Essentially, our business model is founded on Deming’s chain reaction, which says, when you improve quality, costs go down, because of less rework and more efficiencies. When your costs go down, you can pass those savings on to the customer. The customer gives you more work. You capture more market share. You’re able to hire and keep the best people. You have the highest quality at the lowest cost and your customers love you.

When they started their efforts

At New York Label, this meant removing sales quotas and performance reviews, eradicating “command and control” management practices, promoting teamwork and collaboration, practicing systems thinking, and tying sales and growth directly to improving quality.

They made good progress but as many such efforts do they struggled to make continued progress. They reached a level which was improved but continuing to improve from that new level proved to be challenging. As Steven said:

We were able to integrate Deming’s philosophy into the culture of the company, and had a pretty good grasp of certain concepts, like common cause and special cause variations. But I now realize this was really just the low hanging fruit…We weren’t able to see the importance of all the components and their relationship within the system, including outside suppliers and customers.

Employee in a tshirt with the text 'Drive out fear" next to label printing machines.
An employee next to label printing machines at NY Label and Box.

By working with a consultant, Kelly Allan, they were able to bring in outside knowledge and achieve new gains and sustain a continually improvement management system. They have continued to work with Kelly for over 10 years now. Kelly and Steven discussed their efforts in a Deming podcast that I wrote about previously: The Deming Journey at New York Label & Box Works.

The full article includes Steven’s 6 points of advice for successfully managing your organization using Deming’s ideas.

Related: Applying Deming’s Management Ideas at the Great Plains Coca Cola Bottling CompanyDeming’s Ideas Applied at Intermountain Healthcare Since 1988Hallmark Building Supplies: Applying Deming as a Business Strategy Case Study: Adopting a Deming Management System in a Service Company

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