Nabholz: Lean Practices Lead to Consumer Confidence

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The lean practices process is nothing new in the world of manufacturing. Based off the production method developed by Toyota in the 1930s, it’s a way of streamlining every aspect of work to be more efficient and less wasteful. Manufacturing can be a highly repetitive process, so the lean model continues to be used in many plants to this day.

Nabholz Construction implemented the process based on the three core tenets of eliminating waste, adding value and respecting people nearly a decade ago. Executive VP of Operations with Nabholz, Gregg Scholtens says the practice is very rare in the construction industry.

“We look at a building or remodeling project and we ask ourselves how we can be most efficient in doing that for the client,” says Scholtens. “So, this idea of eliminating waste of materials and time and processes helps us give the owner a higher quality product for a better value.”

Eliminate waste
This tenet not only refers to getting rid of actual trash but also to getting rid of processes that waste time. “There are eight areas within this tenet that we focus on under eliminating waste,” says Scholtens.
Underutilized talent – “Tapping into the knowledge of all of our employees and challenging them to seek out new ideas and innovations in our everyday processes,” says Scholtens. “They’re the boots on the ground folks out there. They can tell us if there are better ways to perform the projects they’re working on.”
Avoiding excess inventory – Unnecessary inventory takes space, capital and other resources.
Unnecessary motion – “We spend a lot of time pre-task planning to figure out the most effective execution of whatever task or project we’re on,” says Scholtens. “Taking time to find the safest, most efficient way to perform that task which reduces redundancy.” 
Scholtens mentions that Nabholz construction workers roll up to a job site ready to go with everything they’ll need for the day on a cart they take with them. This eliminates the need to run back for something that might have been forgotten.
The concept of waiting – This refers to the need for everything to be in place in order to use time wisely.
Excessive transportation – “For us, this one isn’t about vehicles delivering materials,” says Scholtens. “It’s about excessive transportation of materials on a job site.” He uses the example of stacked drywall that’s stacked in a spot where other work needs to take place. If that drywall has to be moved numerous times to accommodate other workers that isn’t an efficient use of time.
Defects – Scholtens call this one ‘doing it right the first time.’ “If you don’t do it right the first time, how in the world will you find time to do it multiple times?”
Overproduction – “There’s no point in wasting time and materials and effort producing something you don’t need.”
Overprocessing – “Why take 12 steps to do something that can be done in eight?” He mentions that technology like the Building Information Modeling (BIM) and coworkers sharing and collaborating all help with this part of the process.

Add Value
“This is the idea of continuous improvement. We challenge everyone to look at their processes and procedures to make sure that value is added with every step along the way. We’re ensuring safety and quality and mitigating risk.” If steps are found that don’t contribute to adding value, they’re eliminated.
Respect People
The lean concept should not increase workload in any way. “It’s our job to help employees see how the practice can help them accomplish tasks more quickly, easier, and most importantly, safer.”

Scholtens says all this effort translates into a building a consumer can be confident about owning. “It’s just our way of making sure the client gets the best quality structure in the most efficient manner possible.”

Street Address:
2223 W Sunset Street
Springfield, MO 65807
Phone: 417.450.6000
Web Address:
Top Executives:
Gregg Scholtens, EVP of Operations;
Michael Parker, President Central Region;
Greg Williams, CEO; Bryan Bruich, CFO;
Brad Hegeman, COO; Greg Fogle, COO
Year Founded: 1949
Number of Employees: 1,186
Product or Service:
Construction, Civil, Industrial, Environmental,
& Specialty Service