Volm packs strategic change into company-wide initiative

An MOC Success Story on Lean Transformation
Bills Amsrud and Kevin Thiel of UW-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center work with Joe Zanon, Director of Manufacturing at Volm Companies, on Lean manufacturing implementation.
October 24, 2017


Volm Companies senior leadership sought to fundamentally change the company for the better by creating a Lean workplace culture that involves and empowers every Volm employee. To successfully implement such a big change, they knew they'd need a long-term strategic process, not just a quick fix.


Volm Companies COO Michael Hunter invited University of Wisconsin-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center (MOC) to help the company develop this strategy in fall 2011, initiating an ongoing partnership that continues to generate profound, company-wide improvements.

To start, MOC project managers Bill Amsrud and Brad Nasset listened and learned from Volm leadership. Relying on these discussions and initial assessments, MOC led a one-day Lean training workshop so Volm senior leaders and key production staff could understand the vocabulary of change, envision the possibilities and commit themselves to project success. Action teams then applied these new ideas to significantly improve Volm's equipment layout, quality, safety, and productivity.

Continuous improvements have expanded as staff from all departments and management levels train with MOC to become Lean facilitators, leaders, administrators and champions. Routine status checks by UW-Stout validate and guide the process as it evolves. The company now shares performance information with staff and offers an incentive of paid time off if goals are met.

UW-Stout MOC Projects

In addition to Lean transformation and employee empowerment, Volm Companies has consulted MOC regarding leadership coaching, exportation process (ExporTech), technology scouting, plastics fundamentals, order entry, industry sales, empowerment growth tracking, and more.

Kevin Thiel, Senior Project Manager UW-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center, from right, works with Joe Zanon, Director of Manufacturing at Volm Companies Fresh Tech Products plant in Antigo, Wisconsin, on lean manufacturing implementation.
Kevin Thiel, Senior Project Manager at UW-Stout MOC works with Joe Zanon, Director of Manufacturing at Volm Companies Fresh Tech Products plant.


Volm Companies cites $23.8M in total impacts, including:

  • $2.8M+ in cost savings
  • $13.5M+ in total investment
  • $7.5M in total sales
  • 81 new or retained jobs
  • 94 percent reduction of scrap at one process
  • 20+ machine-days gained in production capacity



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