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Fastener Company Overcomes Production Issues through Lean Manufacturing

manufacturing team in a factory looking at a laptop
Credit: iStock/Sidekick

Since their inception in 1959, Level 1 Fasteners, Inc. has continued to produce the highest quality fasteners for the US Navy and its subcontractors.  Level 1 Fasteners, Inc. began in the aerospace community in Southern California. In 1993, Level 1 Fasteners, Inc. moved from Compton, California, to their current home in Huntington, WV so they could be more centrally located to their customer base.  Today, Level 1 Fasteners, Inc. continues to provide a variety of products and services for industrial fasteners and related products.

The WVMEP has been engaged with Level 1 Fasteners, Inc. for quite some time, assisting with the development, implementation, and maintenance of their ISO quality system.  Level 1 had received lean training several years earlier and had successfully implemented some of the lean concepts. Since that time Level 1 has moved into a much larger facility and also wants to add additional customers. This led them to revisit lean and approached the WVMEP for assistance.

"The primary benefits the Level 1 Fasteners has seen following lean manufacturing training are twofold: 1. Improved communication through morning meetings and 2. Improved teamwork. The work completed by the WVMEP helped us identify the need for changes in our communication within our business and helped implementation of the changes. Without their assistance it would have taken much longer to make the small changes that have resulted in major improvements in productivity."  —Andrea Bourelais, Chief Scientific Officer

Assistance began with a process assessment to identify areas of need and opportunities for improvement. As a result of this assessment the center proposed several steps. First was a series of Lean 101: An Introduction to Lean Manufacturing classes.  Once the classes were finished, the next step was process mapping. The mapping activity was used as a tool to discuss communication, identify areas where waste could be eliminated, and processes could be revised or developed to eliminate non-value adding time.  The mapping activity culminated with a list of 32 tasks over 4 categories that would help to improve internal processes at Level 1 Fasteners, Inc. Following the completion of the lean and process improvement work, the WVU Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) will conduct an on site energy assessment to identify opportunities to reduce energy use and or cost.


  • Late order reduction of 80%
  • Increase monthly sales by $200,000
  • Lead time reduction from 26 weeks to 2 weeks or less

Could your company benefit from assistance with implementing lean concepts? Connect with your local MEP Center for more information.


The West Virginia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WVMEP) is the official representative of the MEP National Network in West Virginia. The MEP National Network is a unique public-private partnership that helps small and medium-sized manufacturers generate business results and thrive in today’s technology-driven economy. The MEP National Network comprises the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), the 51 MEP Centers located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

About the author

West Virginia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WVMEP)

The West Virginia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WVMEP), housed inside Mining and Industrial Extension at West Virginia University is focused on helping West Virginia businesses improve competitiveness in both local and global markets. We accomplish this mission through delivering foundational support and innovative growth services.

Foundational support services range from manufacturing process improvement and quality systems to health and safety, energy assessments, and more. The focus of these services is to maximize your productivity and optimize the knowledge of your workforce.  Innovative growth services include innovation, product design, supply chain development, export assistance and training, and access to multiple national product and marketing opportunities. The focus of these services is to develop new products, utilize new technology, and access new national and global markets.

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