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CONCORD - Over the past three years Page Belting, a company that started manufacturing leather belting for industrial machines in the late 1800s has experienced such significant growth that its product line has expanded from a handful of items to over 70 different products.
"I compare it to going from being a great gourmet restaurant serving a limited menu and a dozen customers per night to serving a full menu to hundreds of people a night," said Mark Coen, President and CEO of Page Belting.
Lately the employees at Page have been working tirelessly to turn out knife sheaths used by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan along with its expanded line that also includes women's handbags; men's dress belts, computer cases, and other specialty products such as Zippo lighter holsters. To stay ahead of the competition, they also accept smaller orders that larger off shore competitors can’t produce efficiently, which has created a tremendous burden on the manufacturing floor.
Realizing the rapid expansion of his company’s product line necessitated a change in the way client orders were placed, processed and sent on their way, Coen enlisted the aid of the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NH MEP).
The NH MEP team started by working with the company’s managers on Lean Manufacturing, a method of making simple but effective changes in the production process, maximizing use of floor space and adjusting how production work flows from one area to the next.
"The results have exceeded expectations," added Coen. "The NH MEP team has made an immediate impact that has made a believer out of me. For example, we identified one job that took 536 steps to complete and using Lean Manufacturing we have redesigned the process and reduced it to just 45 steps."
Together the NH MEP and the Page team are continuing to implement Lean practices, resulting in better accounting of inventory, elimination of clutter in the facility and increased customer satisfaction.
"I expect to see a 25 percent increase in sales for the next two years and thanks to the work we’ve done with the NH MEP my sales team can now continue to bring in new business without fear of not being able to deliver," said Coen.