Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership
ASMC Member Providing Hands-On Help through the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership
Carolyn’s Gourmet Foods, located in Concord, MA, is a small, but growing manufacturer of gourmet candies and nuts. Their main products include coated and flavored nuts, (primarily pecans and cashews), white and dark chocolate bark, toffee, dried fruits, and syrup filled cookies called stoopwafels. Carolyn’s sells their products in both small quantities and in bulk, specializing in attractive gift packs. The number of employees varies according to the season. During the peak season, prior to Christmas, there are approximately 25 people employed.
In 2004, Carolyn’s was in its fifth year of existence and needed to purchase new equipment which would increase their capacity and help accommodate their continued growth. This equipment included a Form, Fill and Seal machine, a new nut roaster, and a fire-mixer. Unfortunately, Carolyn’s had fully utilized its existing space and could not easily add the necessary, new equipment. Hans Van Putten, the President and owner of the company contacted the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Mass MEP), a NIST MEP network affiliate, to help him develop a new layout, which incorporated the additional equipment.
Joe Rizzo, Lead Project Manager for the Mass MEP, visited Carolyn’s Gourmet Foods. He met with Hans and took a plant tour. After reviewing the requirements for the new layout, Joe completed a dimensional layout of the facility in its current condition. He then created a new layout incorporating the Lean principles of continuous flow, and point of use storage. The new layout included two flow lines. One line was for high volume products, which utilized the new Form, Fill and Seal machine. The second line was for small, customized orders. For this line, the supplies were to be stored at point of use. The operator would fill the orders by pushing a cart on wheels, along the line, pulling materials and filling the order as needed. Both lines ended at the shipping area. The combination of the new equipment and an improved layout, which incorporated Lean principles, and made better utilization of the existing space, resulted in a doubling of profit margins and the achievement of profitability for the first time. The line for the filling of small custom orders has not been fully implemented yet. Additional improvements in productivity and profit margins will result, once this custom line is completed.
- Developed new plant layout.
- Doubled profit margins.
- Achieved a more competitive and profitable position.
- Anticipated implementation of line for filling small, customized orders.
“First of all, I would like to thank Joe Rizzo very much for his involvement and guidance in this project. As a small business owner you wear many hats and sometimes it becomes difficult to see the woods through the trees. With the advice and guidance from Joe and the Mass MEP, it provided the sounding board and devil’s advocate which is so necessary but not always available. I hope that Carolyn’s Gourmet can continue to grow and develop its top-line and bottom-line in the manner it has in 2004 with the help of Joe Rizzo and the Mass MEP. Thanks again!”
Hans Van Putten, President