A New Process Delivers Smart Solutions

July 2019


When customers look for interior signage or want the exterior signage of their brand to stand out, a stunning end-product and an easy, painless signage development process is their primary concern. Simplifying the steps from design to development to installation is at the core of our new process and you’re going to love the results!

Customer Experience Rules

At Latitude, we are challenging the norms. Innovation is never built by resting on laurels, instead, our mission is to always put the customer first and seek to refine how we think, create, innovate and collaborate.

So what does that mean? It means improving our internal processes and translating that to our customers, easing stress and frustration while reducing the amount of time customers wait on projects.

Coaching is Key: Latitude Signage’s Process

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening my axe.”

Abraham Lincoln

To create change, you’ve got to better understand the tools and talents you’re working with.

We have a strong, talented group of employees and leaders, but helping create a way for everyone to work smarter took some coaching.

Last fall, we brought on Oculus Business Solutions, John Hackley, to lead the charge. As CEO of Oculus Business Coaching, John is known for driving strategic growth and helping manufacturers implement systemic solutions. Learn more about his philosophy here.

Through coaching, we are now starting to reduce the amount of rework because our processes are more predictable and efficient. This will be our “new normal,” and our customers will reap the benefits.

The plan of attack:

  1. Bring leadership together
  2. Bring the entire shop together
  3. Create new job descriptions
  4. Define accountability
  5. Analyze schedules to ensure everyone was moving in the same direction

First, John analyzed our current processes and set a goal to increase throughput, which is the amount of material or items passing through the system/process. What does this mean to our customers? We’ll get more done in less time. He also had plans to reduce stress to our system and create a holistic one, which meant revamping a deeply-ingrained, 30-year culture.

During the implementation of this new and improved process, there were ups and downs. We had to get focused as a company about our objective, which was to improve the customer experience. We also knew we had to face the fact that a change like this takes an extreme amount of patience. Once we accepted that, we were good.

Our employees began to recognize the need for change and it rekindled the joy & fire in them. The enthusiasm around the shop is contagious.

Michael McKeag, President and CEO - Latitude Signage

A More Streamlined, Focused Approach to Production

With newly-established leaders, we were able to help our employees focus on their role in the change. Latitude President and CEO, McKeag, found it interesting to see previous nay-sayers become the biggest advocates. It was evident that a new environment was developing. A move from reactive to proactive work processes were being accepted and even embraced for the overall benefit of our customers.

In the past, workers had to pick and choose what they wanted to do and when, but to serve our customers better, John prompted each person to become more accountable and our processes to become more structured. His method involved sharing the Whys and Hows behind what was happening. Together, we are fully-vested in delivering for our customers.

Change is like a hockey stick curve — you can work months without much visible change until it finally curves up at the end and the results appear. We are currently at the neck, starting to move up, and it’s very exciting.

John Hackley, Occulus Business Solutions

The production leadership team at Latitude, which includes Eugene Peart, Ryan Hudnut, Terry Maxfield, Happy Hawkins, and Anna Panada are already seeing positive results of these efforts like:

  • A move to more transparency with customers about where projects are in the production process, which allows them to plan better
  • An ability to mobilize staff and materials more quickly
  • Increased predictability on the timing of project milestones and completion
  • A higher level of consistency in processes and for our customers

Looking forward…

Over the coming months, Latitude will continue to work with John, conducting weekly meetings to address any constraints. We fully expect this new production management system to continue to evolve and improve over the next year to year and a half. And the outlook? It’s positive:

We create custom business signs for our customers so there’s no exact science that fits all projects. We just want to make it easier for the team to work efficiently and we’re seeing lots of leaders stepping up in our production department because we have a fantastic crew of employees.

Eugene Peart, Process Improvement Leader - Latitude Signage

In the end, our goal is for excellent customer experience. By making the production process smoother, projects move more efficiently to our customers. While this is just one cog in our business, the difference has been substantial.

If you want to learn more about Latitude Signage and/or take a tour of our Grinnell, IA manufacturing facility, connect with an expert in your area now.

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