Oregon Lean Group Gains National Attention

Wilsonville, OR – August 24, 2016

The Oregon Nursery Lean Consortium has captured a national spotlight this month with a cover feature in the June issue of Nursery Management magazine. The national publication provides top news and exclusive research, as well as technical and business management content to more than 16,000 wholesale growers throughout North America.

The feature walks through a day with the consortium, looking at how the team of leaders from different nurseries makes improvements to a process in a company. Consortium member Tom Fessler of Woodburn Nursery and Azaleas is pictured on the cover.

The Oregon Nursery Lean Consortium is a group of nurseries and greenhouse operations that work together to deploy Lean principles in their businesses. Members commit to learning and applying these principles – or the Toyota Production System – together for one year. Initial results are often dramatic, with productivity improvements in triple digit percent gains the first time Lean is effectively deployed in an area.

On April 1, the consortium met at Smith Gardens. Three teams sought the “least waste way” to select hanging baskets from different greenhouse environments. By day’s end, all three teams saw productivity gains (units per labor hour) by 104 to 261 percent.

The story also references an improvement activity hosted by McMinnville grower Robinson Nursery, where units per worker hour were increased by 49 percent on their #3 GRL planting process.

“These results are not uncommon,” said Nursery Manager Chris Robinson. “We have worked with The Peters Company on three separate Lean projects at our farm over the past five years,” said Robinson. “In one event we had a 37 percent improvement in processing and grading of our bare root nursery stock. At the same event, a team reduced bare root tree harvesting time by 87 percent.”

The story notes that working with a consortium provides peer support and accountability, as leaders work to develop an improvement culture in their businesses.

“The best part of the consortium is the ability to create trusted partnerships in the profession,” said Joe Wolf, project manager at Woodburn Nursery & Azaleas. “Everyone on the team is committed to an open-door policy, freely discussing process dynamics, and even financial, labor, and market constraints to that particular process. This allows us to all grow in depth as lead growers, producers, and leaders while maintaining accountability to the observations and recommendations made by the consortium.”

Five companies are currently involved in the consortium: Smith Gardens Aurora, Robinson Nursery, PRT Oregon of Hubbard, Woodburn Nursery & Azaleas, and JLPN of Salem. The group is facilitated by The Peters Company.

To learn more about Lean, participate with the Oregon Nursery Lean Consortium, or start a similar group in your area, contact The Peters Company at 503-250-2235 or epeters@petersco.net.