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Opening New Doors on Process Improvement

About

La Puerta Originals, located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, evolved out of founder Scott Coleman’s combined love of art, architecture and world travel. As Scott began collecting discarded doors, columns, beautifully carved wood, ironwork, and other building materials, word spread about the unique architectural elements of La Puerta’s products. Over thirty years later, the family-owned company now has the nation’s largest collection of architectural antique materials salvaged from around the world and is regarded among architects and custom home builders as the go-to company for unique, handcrafted wood products. With a team of about 40 highly skilled craftsmen, La Puerta Originals creates one-of-a-kind solid wood custom doors, gates, cabinets, furniture and architectural elements for customers across the country and internationally.

The Challenge

Production planning can be very challenging for La Puerta Originals because each piece is unique. Estimating cost relies a great deal on the craft carpenter’s ability to estimate the number of hours required to complete the work. If the carpenter doesn’t finish the job within the committed hours, the cost to manufacture can’t be recovered and profits decrease. The company also requires excellent communication to avoid mistakes, production delays, and rework. There are many details to communicate for each job, and miscommunication requires employees to backtrack, check details, and revisit orders with clients.
The stability that is brought to the local economy by MEP’s guidance for businesses in New Mexico is invaluable. We are proud to offer consistent and long-term employment at fair wages for our skilled workers thanks to MEP’s involvement in the streamlining of both our administrative and manufacturing processes. We hope to continue our partnership with New Mexico MEP in the years to come and thank their educated and professional team for all they have done to help us continue to thrive.
— Christina McGrady, Operations Manager

MEP's Role

To improve the accuracy of La Puerta's time/cost estimates, company leaders contacted New Mexico MEP, part of the MEP National Network™. They wanted the estimates to be consistent with more efficient bench times (manufacturing times), and asked New Mexico MEP for guidance. The engagement began with a Value Stream Map (VSM) of the process, from design through job completion. This exercise gave the La Puerta team a better understanding of the variation in the estimating, quoting and manufacturing processes.

New Mexico MEP followed up with a 5S workplace organization event (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain), focusing on the carpenter’s benches and an analysis of the common work areas to support the carpenters in being more efficient and consistent. The improvements increased productivity, decreased rework, and decreased inventory ordering by a significant margin. As Operations Manager Christina McGrady explained, "by eliminating 'non-value' work, we have been able to do more with less yet still maintain quality and customer satisfaction."
Created June 2, 2020, Updated July 12, 2021