At the end of July, Avery Dennison Northern Region rolled out its first projects in a programme designed to secure top line growth by identifying and meeting customer needs. It was almost 100 days since John Collins had arrived in Newcastle from Ohio to begin his new job. By coincidence each Horizon project has just 100 days to start delivering.
“The most exciting thing about Horizon is that it is aimed at driving growth. We have been very good at Avery at driving investment for shareholders,” (in the past much has come from efficiency and productivity) – “but now, even with a softening market, we have still made a commitment to fast breaking products.” The culture comes directly from the top. Chairman and ceo of Avery Dennison Phil Neal has said: “With our Horizons growth process in place, we have set an aggressive goal to reach $6billion in revenue by 2007.” The goal is to ramp up top line growth by a full point by year end, which would add around $50M in annual sales worldwide.
So how does it work? “We prioritized at a top level those projects which we felt would most drive growth. We had nine or ten to choose from coming from plant, production and sales areas. We didn’t have the resources to go for all of them so initially picked three,” he reported. “But we took a risk and added a fourth – the passion and energy for this project was such that we had to say yes.”
Each cross-functional team has a leader – some are black belt 6 Sigma (6 Sigma tools are used in the projects) – and come from operations, supply chain and engineering. Although, for obvious reasons, he couldn’t divulge much about each individual idea, John Collins explained: “They could be looking at a new market and a current product, a new product for a current market or a new product for a new market.”
“Some of our people will be working 20 per cent of their time on the team. The project champion for the region is full time. That is real commitment from the company. My own team and myself have to be committed too as we are taking people out of what they are usually doing. We tell them to make the decisions and if they need us to help them resource the project to ask. Yes, there is a cost, but after those 100 days they will deliver.”
Perhaps the most interesting achievement is that the company has managed to include a customer on each team. “It may be that the customer is a likely user of the project – a potential beta site. From their point of view it could mean they are the first in the market with something or it offers an opportunity to grow their business,” he enthused. “I’ve seen in the USA – where Horizon was rolled out earlier – that when a customer was on the team they almost bled for it.”
So how were things going so far? “One team believes it will deliver €100,000 in a 100 days! If that is recurring it could be really significant,” he said. “And when I asked one team member how the project was going, they said ‘I’ve already worked 20 hours on it in three days.’ One team meeting for the first time doubled its target.
“Teams become like entrepreneurial units. The operations people come to understand the customer and the market and the marketing and sales people realise the needs of operations.”
In his new position John Collins has management responsibility for the regional corporate infrastructure across the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia. Aside from his major commitment and desire to push and facilitate growth, what else has the erstwhile vp and general manager of Avery Dennison Fasson Roll North America’s Information Processing and Systems Division brought to the party?
Since joining the company as coating facility manager at Quakertown, Pennsylvania, he has held a number of general and operational management roles. ” I bring solid experience in the roll label business as well as in financial processes.” He is also experienced in 6 Sigma, being part of president and coo Dean Scarborough’s team five years ago. “They have done an excellent job here in 6 Sigma using process mapping, control charts and taking out costs,” he added.
Investment in the region came with the opening of in the €9M new southern distribution centre at Milton Keynes (see Converting Today June). More investment is due shortly. “Early next year we will be putting a 2m wide slitter into Copenhagen,” he announced.
Proof of the pudding comes when the Horizon projects come through and results are reported in October to president and coo Dean Scarborough.
Says John Collins: “Success breeds success. This programme gives a sense of urgency, a sense of priority. And, if these are successful, we will see another set of projects begun.”
And will he reach the one point growth? “If we’d started Horizon at the beginning of the year I’d be certain. But we’ll be close,” he concluded.
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