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STLCC Partnership Helps Rug Doctor Win Governor’s Innovative Industry Training Award

STLCC LogoRug Doctor, Inc., in Fenton, Mo., recently received the Governor’s Innovative Industry Training Award, which recognizes a company that demonstrates outstanding success in workforce training and education.

In 2009, the company’s Fenton plant partnered with St. Louis Community College (STLCC) to transition to lean manufacturing, a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste and inefficiencies within a manufacturing company.

Now in its fifth year of lean implementation, the company has seen savings of more than $500,000 through inventory reduction and the elimination of waste, and has increased order fulfillment capacity by 40 percent. This increase in capacity, combined with the plant improvements, also led to the plant recently winning a company-wide RQF/RFP to manage distribution of a new Rug Doctor product.

Rug Doctor has served the professional and do-it-yourself carpet cleaning market through manufacturing, sales, and service of carpet cleaning products and machines for over 40 years. Originally started as a regional West Coast operation, the company has since grown to an international manufacturer and marketer of the most convenient, compact, and powerful hot water extraction carpet cleaning machines and products today. The company currently operates 35 warehouse distribution points and service centers around the nation, as well as a main manufacturing facility in Fenton.

Thanks to its partnership with St. Louis Community College, the Fenton Rug Doctor location is considered a company leader in implementing the 5S system, an important lean manufacturing tool that stresses organizing the workplace in a clean, efficient, and safe manner to increase productivity. With facilitation and skill-building assistance from STLCC, the plant’s latest success is the creation of a plant-wide 5S sustain committee and central visual control board. The committee is comprised of a mix of the line workers, production leads, and managers, who work together to coordinate with the plant’s 16 on-the-floor 5S teams. The design and implementation of this visual control board is original to Rug Doctor and drives the plant’s ongoing 5S work.

All of the on-the-floor 5S teams are actively engaged and trained in 5S activities, including data collection, posting, and improving project expectations. Since implementation, ratings for 5S inspections within the plant are now routinely above a 4.5 out of 5. This boost in engagement has led to a safer work environment, a decrease in turnover, and boosted employee morale.