It was in 1976 when John Huntington moved his family from Connecticut to purchase Pleasant View Gardens in Loudon, New Hampshire. At the time ten employees handled three greenhouses covering 20,000 square feet, or half an acre.
Today Pleasant View Gardens is in the third generation of the Huntington family running the business. They have grown to 13 acres, or almost 600,000 square-feet, split between two locations -- one in Loudon, New Hampshire, with six acres, and the other in Pembroke, New Hampshire, with seven acres. The two locations employ 280 people working on two product lines. The first product line is young plants sold to other greenhouses and growers. The second product line is finished plants sold to retail and wholesale growers in New England.
“We looked at our operation as if it was a manufacturing facility rather than greenhouse,” said Mike Goyette, Operations Manager for Pleasant View Gardens. “So out of necessity to improve our operating margin, we needed to look at how we do our work more efficiently and more effectively with better balance.”
In order to improve their operating margins Mike knew they had to move into a lean manufacturing environment. But how do they go about doing that? “What we needed to find was a lean training program that would get our employees involved and get their buy-in throughout the process.”
Partnering with NH MEP has been a valuable experience which has helped us develop and refine our lean journey. Our relationship with NH MEP has opened doors to networking opportunities with other manufacturers in our region. Having the ability to see how other businesses implement lean in their own way drives idea generation and implementation velocity in our own operation.
Around the time Mike was contemplating finding a lean training program, their HR Manager came across NH MEP, part of the MEP National Network™, and the various training opportunities they provide to manufacturers in New Hampshire. One of those training opportunities was in lean. The Pleasant View Gardens met with an NH MEP project manager, who helped them develop an on-site lean training and implementation program to meet their needs.
The training mentored and educated employees at the client’s site in principles of lean, value stream mapping, and execution of Kaizen events. The hands-on experience with the mentoring role of would create the workforce skills necessary to recreate and expand the lean continuous improvement culture throughout the organization.