Massive Changes Result in Massive Results for Western Colorado Manufacturer
Total Cost Savings
Since its inception in 1968, Valor has undergone numerous seismic shifts. When they first opened their doors, it was under the name of Capco and they specialized in capacitor manufacturing. In 2015, they were sold to a private equity group and have since been acquired by Chumash Capital Investments (CCI) representing the Chumash Native American tribe located in California. Over time, Capco changed their name to Valor and their product line evolved into more mechanical lines of work. Today, they serve the military and law enforcement through production of cartridge-activated devices, the M205 tripod, and the M320 grenade launcher, and they are a primary US producer of various components used by military and law enforcement personnel. Because CCI’s investment portfolio was established to provide growth and development for future generations of tribal members, Valor also prides itself on contributing to the vitality of the Chumash Native American tribe.
Before coming to Valor, COO Jennifer Cleerdin had spent 20 years working on contracts for the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security focused on compliance and operations, so when she came to Capco she was surprised to discover a lack of basic infrastructure. A colleague at CCI had previously worked with the Oklahoma Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center and suggested that she find her local MEP who could support her efforts to optimize operations. In early 2022, Jennifer reached out to Manufacturer’s Edge (ME) and connected with Beth Dickson, her full-time Western Slope-based representative. Together, they completed the Manufacturer’s Edge Business Health Assessment, and, after much discussion, they were able to identify their top three priorities for improvement.
At that point, the Virata Group was brought in to assist ME and Valor from an Industrial Engineering perspective as they sought to shore up workflows and infrastructure on the production side. Initially, there was some hesitation from the Valor team as they took apart each individual product line, examined it from a Lean perspective, and put it back together. Because they always started by collecting data to establish a baseline, the results were apparent almost immediately, and soon the rest of the shopfloor took notice and got on board. “I knew we had turned a corner” states Cleerdin, “when there were people on the floor saying ‘Hey, I want that for my line! When do we get that?’”
Valor’s work with ME and Virata is ongoing as they shift from an operations focus to quality. In-progress projects include Value Stream Mapping and Quality Management Systems with more in the works. Acquiring leadership buy-in for follow-on work has not been a challenge given the impressive results seen from the already completed projects. The first engagement, for example, required less than $100,000 of investment but has resulted in more than $1,000,000 in project annual labor savings. Previously, this line ran on three shifts, averaging 47,000 units per week. In addition, the quality was inconsistent, they were struggling to deliver on time, and they were in danger of losing their primary client. Thanks to the changes Valor has implemented, they are now at 100% on-time delivery and they have gone from three shifts to one requiring ½ the workforce needed under the previous model. The client they were in danger of losing recently visited the shopfloor to observe the changes and shared with them that Valor has become one of their top-tier, top-performing suppliers and they are looking to add additional work.
Tanner Mast, Director of Continuous Improvement, summarized their experience with ME and Virata by saying, “The biggest thing is the culture shift. Our vocabulary is changing, we’re learning about new concepts, and the conversations we have throughout the day are changing as we learn more. The changes aren’t isolated to a manufacturing line or to a specific situation. Really, it’s growing Valor’s technical expertise as well as our capabilities that will be sustainable long-term.”
Other benefits from this engagement include personal and career growth, but also as Cleerdin pointed out, “This benefits our warfighters, it benefits our law enforcement officers that we serve by providing these quality products to them in a timely manner and to be able to provide future generations of wealth and infrastructure to the Chumash tribe is incredibly rewarding
You can have all of the strategy in the world, but if you don’t have the culture to support it then it’s kind of a wasted effort. And I think we really are shifting the culture through this partnership with Manufacturer’s Edge and the Virata Group.
— Tanner Mast, Director of Continuous Improvement