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Striving for Continuous Improvement: We're Building a Lean Culture at TSG

Posted by Margaret Harvey on Nov 16, 2020

The Shippers Group has assembled an Operational Excellence team to lead cultural transformation by training Lean Concepts aligned with our Core Values of:

Integrity | Innovation | Excellence | Safety

With our customers ever-changing needs and the rising costs of doing business, efficiency has never been more important. The Shippers Group is taking the next step to deliver more value to our customers by making our sites more efficient and safer. Short for Operational Excellence, our OpEx Team has five key focuses:

PEOPLE – Respect for People and their ideas to improve

Lean programs start from the bottom up because those who know and do the work can find the best solutions.

PROCESS – Process Improvement Initiatives

Empowering team members to eliminate waste in their own processes.

ACCURACY – Accountability to Operating Procedures

Making improvements to ensure that the work gets done the right way, the first time, every time, and catching mistakes so they don’t turn into defects.

SPEED – Elimination of Waste for Better Efficiency

Eliminating wasteful activities that add meaningless time to a process.

EXCELLENCE – Measure and Deliver Results

Having measurable results where each employee can see the flow of value to the customer that they are creating.


Meet the OpEx Team

Alex Whitely, Industrial Engineer

Alex Whitely Industrial EngineerAlex joined The Shippers Group a few months ago to enhance productivity, maximize throughput, and ensure workplace safety—and that is exactly what she’s done. Alex is Six Sigma Green Belt certified and has led Lean Six Sigma projects, which made her the perfect candidate to lead our Operational Excellence team, as her current work already aligned with the OpEx team purpose. Based out of Dallas, Alex has been working with a new packaging customer account, to increase efficiency by leading lean projects and making sure both the supervisors and the team are involved.


Al Siekerman, Director of Process Excellence

Al Siekerman, Director of Process ExcellenceBased out of Atlanta, Al has already been driving operational excellence efforts for over the past year at The Shippers Group. Al is an expert on increasing productivity and process improvement, while also optimizing space. In Atlanta, already, he has helped reduce the case pick footprint and improve case pick productivity. Through his process improvement efforts, our site has already moved up 10 spots on the list of providers for our customer. Al has also most recently led a building layout and reorganization to ensure a successful start-up for our expanding customer.


Susie Bodnar, Lean Supply Chain Consultant and Trainer

Susie Bodnar, Lean Supply Chain Consultant and TrainerAs a Lean Supply Chain Consultant and Trainer, Susie was brought on as a consultant to help get this program off the ground. Susie has worked in supply chain her entire career and has consulted on many projects where she has focused on value-added processes. As she has seen through her previous work, Lean Culture really takes off when all team members understand what waste is, so a key component of her consultant work with us was to coach leaders on standard work and adoption of Lean and Six Sigma principles and behaviors. Susie did an excellent job at helping us train and inspire transformation within and will remain on behind the scenes as a coach to our OpEx team.


Within its first 90 days, our OpEx team has already helped improve productivity, processes, and communication – helping us achieve cost reductions, higher safety, and greater efficiency. Using a servant leadership approach, OpEx will lead and support Continuous Improvement and Lean efforts for each of our sites by empowering team members to find best solutions and by providing expertise to support improvement initiatives. By continually streamlining our operations and reducing waste, The Shippers Group is one step closer to achieving our Vision of being 1st in supply chain!

Stay tuned next week as we announce our Lean Champions from each site, who are already driving continuous improvement using the Lean Principles they have learned!


The Shippers Group was founded in 1901 and today employs over 1400 associates nationwide. For more information on The Shippers Group, visit our services page.                                                                  

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