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Ardmore Nurseries progresses with Kaizen

15 Dec. 2016

Lean in New Zealand horticulture

 

Ardmore Nurseries Ltd started its Kaizen transformation journey late 2015. This family-owned business was founded around 1933 in Manurewa as Beaumonts’ Nurseries by Arthur and his son Harry Beaumont. They originally grew mostly farm hedging plants. As the market changed they were growing mainly ornamental trees and shrubs for residential properties by the 1960’s. In 1972 Harry sold the Ardmore site of Beaumonts’ Nurseries Ltd to his eldest sons, Barry and Allen Beaumont, who re-named the site Ardmore Nurseries Ltd. At the same time, Harry sold Beaumonts’ Nurseries in Manurewa to his sons Roger and John Beaumont, who renamed it Beaumonts’ Garden Centre Ltd. In 1997 John and Susy Beaumont purchased Ardmore Nurseries Ltd from Barry and Allen. Although they improved profitability with better stock turnover and management, and better staff training, they still saw untapped potential in the business.

Richard and his sister, Kara, gradually took over the reins from John and Susy just over three years ago. Under the enthusiastic eyes of Richard, they have made numerous improvements during the past 12 months. Shorter lead times, and making their information and work activities more transparent, have been the focus areas. A great effort has gone into 5S (workplace organisation) to help them drive out inefficiencies and to lay the foundations to improve their processes.

This is what Richard had to say about their Kaizen transformation up to this point:

“The main purpose of implementing Kaizen at Ardmore Nurseries was to add greater value for our customers and to have better staff engagement. We needed Kaizen to help us lead these changes and give us the tools to efficiently implement change.”

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He summarises the benefits of Kaizen as follows: 

* Kaizen was like having a coach that came to us regularly. It was not a one-off seminar or workshop, but ongoing hands-on help to implement continuous improvement. We have benefited from streamlined processes, and have become more organised and efficient.

* Staff are more engaged because they have a forum to put forward their ideas and see the progression from idea to implementation.

* Many small improvements have led to added customer value, for example by reducing weeds, improving customer service times, and better quality and availability of plants through timely production cycles.

* A major learning for me is how powerful visual management is for engaging staff. Building on the old adage ‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure’, I would also say ‘you can’t manage what you can’t see’.

* One of the biggest learning’s within the organisation is that we have internal as well as external customers.

The journey continues
A Kaizen organisation celebrates its successes but is never satisfied with the improved situation. Richard explains the meaning of this concept: “As an organisation we need to become competent with the tools we’ve been using, and do this at a consistently high level in all parts of the business.” A Kaizen organisation is a learning organisation by solving problems continuously, following the new standardised ways, and relentlessly identifying further opportunities to improve the new standards.

The Centre for Supply Chain Management at the University of Auckland also conducted a field visit to Ardmore Nurseries to observe their operations. This led to thought-provoking discussions and the participants gained great insight about the running of a business in the horticulture sector.

Funding through NZTE
Ardmore Nurseries made use of the much appreciated Capability Development Voucher Scheme as administered through ATEED, a Regional Business Partner of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE). SMEs across New Zealand can apply for this funding to improve their businesses. As a registered service provider, Kaizen Institute New Zealand has been supporting SMEs to become better businesses for almost four years. Callaghan Innovation is also closely aligned to this funding model to enable increased investment by New Zealand businesses to support long term economic growth (contact us for more information).

We wish the friendly and caring people of Ardmore Nurseries well with the continuous improvement of the business.

 

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