Adam Fratto, BMC's West Jordan location manager in Utah, wears the 2019 BMC 6S Champion Belt and holds up the 2018 Lean Champion trophy.
Adam Fratto, BMC's West Jordan location manager in Utah, wears the 2019 BMC 6S Champion Belt and holds up the 2018 Lean Champion trophy.

When it comes to productivity, are you a lion or a gazelle? Are you chasing productivity or is productivity chasing you? These are the questions Bert Stephens, BMC vice president of operational efficiency, asks senior leadership. To be the lion—to chase productivity and set measurable goals to drive that productivity—the Raleigh, N.C.–based dealer launched the BMC Operating System (BMCOS) in April 2018.

To be clear, the operating system is not a computer platform. Instead, it is a blueprint for gaining efficiencies and improving service. The BMCOS formalizes how BMC delivers on its “Be the Best” core value, using lean principles to identify opportunities and create best practices to improve service, increase efficiencies, and strengthen company culture.

Prior to the launch of the BMCOS, the company wasn’t focused on the most valuable projects and, as a result, many had stalled.

“[Launching an operating system] … takes some time,” Stephens says. “It has to be pertinent to what the organization is trying to guide, and it has to be in line with your business goals [and] your objectives.”

BMC has best-practice councils that focus on strategic areas of the business, including structural components, READY-FRAME, installed services, and millwork. To develop the BMCOS, Stephens and national marketing director Jeanine Froke analyzed how the best practices produced by the councils could be put together to “turbocharge the whole company,” Stephens says.

Froke says the organization was already implementing and adopting lean practices on a local level, but the formalization of existing programs through the BMCOS served as a “catalyst to amplify the results.” The primary goal during the first year of the BMCOS was to educate the dealer’s 10,000-person workforce on the operating system, how the BMCOS would be used to differentiate BMC, and how employees could help. In the second year of the program, the company began equipping employees with tools to improve efficiency, Froke says.

“[BMCOS is] really not top-down, it’s bottom-up. Starting with our truck drivers and our counter associates and making sure they have the tools they need to deliver a better customer service experience and improve just a little bit every single day,” Froke says.

The BMCOS focuses on three areas: the 3Ps (people, process, and performance), the TIMWOODS acronym (to minimize waste in eight areas: transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, overprocessing, overproduction, defects, safety), and the 6S (sort, set, shine, standardize, sustain, and safety) approach to lean practices.

For BMC, the 3Ps should not be managed in a vacuum. The focus on people includes training to drive efficient and productive processes and, ultimately, better performance outcomes.

“Some companies dive too deep into process. They grind their people so hard that it hinders their long-term goals,” Froke says. “We found that by investing in people and process simultaneously, it gives you a harmonious balance that delivers performance.”

BMC has identified several key success metrics when improving people and processes. On the people front, BMC measures associate engagement, customer satisfaction, and supplier satisfaction. On the process side, the dealer measures operational cost savings, productivity gains, quality as it relates to on-time-in-full performance, and safety as it relates to recordable incidents, Froke says.

The 6S and TIMWOODS mnemonics were initially introduced to employees as 5S and 7 Wastes (TIMWOOD)—without “safety”—during the launch. The 5S mnemonic reminds employees about the importance of cleaning up the workspace to optimize productivity, instilling the discipline needed to be successful with other lean tools. Similarly, TIMWOOD identifies pain points and areas that can diminish productivity and metrics. By focusing on the basics of lean tools—5S and TIMWOOD—BMC set the groundwork for the introduction of safety to both tool sets in 2019. Launching the 5S and TIMWOOD guidelines without “safety” enabled BMC to call attention in the second year to how important safety is to the company, Froke says.

“We already had the legs going on our 5S program and we decided that this was a great opportunity to add that S to our 5S and our 7 Wastes to actually drive that into our employees to have them understand that safety is a very important objective for the company,” Stephens says.

BMC also introduced an element of competition to the BMCOS to drive awareness and improve company culture. Each quarter, the dealer gives out a Battle of the Belt award to a site that is driving change by using 6S to improve performance. Additionally, the dealer annually awards a Lean Champion title to the market that has done an exemplary job of identifying and reducing waste in conjunction with improving projects, on-time-in-full deliveries, safety, and employee training. Salt Lake City was named the 2018 Lean Champion, training 100% of its staff on 5S principles, completing 74 Kaizen events, and implementing 168 lean suggestions.

“The contest and the internal marketing is a really important piece to reiterate that this is all about the people,” Froke says.

“We want the greater whole to win together. We are independently competitive, but not at the expense of helping those around us.”

In the year and a half that the BMCOS has been operational, the program has increased labor efficiencies, created safer work environments, led to process improvements, and enhanced customer service. Local markets have reduced project lead times and increased capacity. BMC reported that on-time-in-full deliveries improved by 1.7% in the second quarter of 2019, compared to the second quarter of 2018. BMC also attributed the BMCOS as a driving force behind an improved financial performance that included achieving more than $6 million in EBITDA during the first half of 2019. The company has hired 58 management trainees and graduated 250 associates from its leadership programs. BMC also has developed new technology with vendors to improve truss manufacturing and has three operational automated truss plants.

“We have seen more of our people engaged. Instead of having a handful of people doing it, we’ve got thousands of people,” Stephens says.