Bringing our skills into the community

Sep 02, 2009

Amway employees are like no others.

I joke with our volunteer coordinator about how people here can be very picky about what they want to get involved in and under what circumstances. But we both agree that when they commit, they are fully engaged and put their hearts into it, whether it’s building a playground in a single day, or mentoring a student every week during a school year, or serving in a leadership role on a nonprofit board.

And sometimes they take the initiative and really surprise you. Here’s an example.

We have a team of efficiency experts who practice lean, six sigma techniques. They work across the company, particularly in our manufacturing areas, to make our operations streamlined and efficient.

They also have big hearts.

The leader of the division personally serves on a committee for Make-A-Wish, one of our One by One partners in West Michigan. Another person from this group leads Disaster Relief Teams, made up of employees and spouses that give up their holiday weekends to travel to places in the U.S. that have been hit by disasters. There, they help tear down damaged structures and build up new ones. The department also consistently participates in volunteer events.

We heard that employees from this department had been talking to a local One by One partner, Kids Food Basket, which is a nonprofit organization located on the southwest side of Grand Rapids whose mission is to assemble and provide meals for poverty-level or below elementary school children throughout Kent County.

Around 75 volunteers show up to pack these meals every day, and only 4.5 paid staff manage this huge operation. As you might imagine, while they are able to assemble and deliver about 1,700 take home sack suppers per day, they have quite an extensive waiting list of kids who need assistance.

On May 14 and 15 this team of “Lean Thinkers” had the privilege of working with Kid’s Food Basket, forming a “kaizen team” whose mission was to work toward creating additional capacity without any increase in resources (capital, space, equipment, etc.) They defined the best possible work process that addressed identified issues, and designed a One Piece Flow Meal Assembly.

The results were remarkable. They went from taking 41 seconds to make one meal, which is 88 meals per hour, to 4.5 seconds to make one meal, or 800 meals per hour!

Kid’s Food Basket is currently working with the One Piece Flow Process in preparing 105 of their daily meals. Once KFB has consistently sustained the process, they will be able to increase their capacity to begin serving more children.

We always love it when departments initiate projects with community partners, especially when they leverage the skills that they use at work. And that’s what this team did.

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Suffice to say that we are very proud of the expertise on hand at Amway and the spirit of giving that defines our company.



  • 1 Comment

    • Guest says:

      Jesse -Your comments about Amway employees are so true!  This is a dedicated and caring group of individuals whose work has made a lasting difference for Kids Food Basket!  Their efforts are truly appreciated.

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