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Lean Manufacturing Supports Fresh and Vibrant Production at Lavender Farm


Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, located in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, employs over 140 people. At first glance, Los Poblanos does not seem like a traditional manufacturing company: the business includes an award-winning, boutique-style hotel, a 25 acre farm that produces lavender and vegetables, and a farm shop. However, nestled between an old grain silo and a large barn, the Los Poblanos manufacturing facility produces artisan lavender products using essential oils from the lavender grown on the organic farm. Los Poblanos products, including hand-made or hand-packaged spa toiletries, candles, food seasonings, food garnishing, flavored honey, dried herbs and flowers, and essential oil, are available in the farm shop and distributed throughout the United States and Asia. Los Poblanos recently completed $10M in renovations on the property to create a new reception area, refurbish its retail shop, and expand its hotel, restaurant, and manufacturing facility.

The Challenge

Due to a focused effort by the sales team to pursue sales leads and cultivate relationships, demand for Los Poblanos products was growing significantly. The operations team tackled the challenge of creating extra storage space for raw materials and finished goods, office space for the management team, and more efficient business systems. That left the production team to not only keep up with product demand, but to continue to regularly improve the manufacturing processes. Each team member had to be empowered to solve problems, address quality issues, make efficiency improvements, and resolve safety and ergonomic issues. Los Poblanos reached out to New Mexico MEP, part of the MEP National Network, to support the production team with training in Lean Manufacturing.
The training and assistance provided by New Mexico MEP has helped production staff feel a sense of ownership over the process and the space in which they work every day. Because of this, we have seen an increase in output and cycle time. We are able to ship the freshest possible product to our customers.
— Karen Converse, Wholesale Lavender Operations Manager

MEP's Role

New Mexico MEP began by delivering a training in the Principles of Lean Manufacturing to the Los Poblanos administrative staff and production team. The participants learned to recognize non-value added activities within their operations by applying Lean tools and techniques. Next, the production team completed a two-day training in Lean Problem Solving to learn the steps of the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) process. Following the Toyota Kata method, the team members learned and practiced a pattern for rapid cycle experimentation by applying it to the manufacturing and assembly of several product families. Finally, the team completed a Manufacturing Value Stream Mapping (VSM) project for its soap production to decide how to improve the efficiency and safety of the process. Los Poblanos reduced cycle time for the soap making process and cut down on several assembly and manufacturing steps to increase output.
Created June 2, 2020, Updated July 12, 2021