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Old 07-14-2007, 02:23 AM   #15
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Everybody reports to somebody. Can't be avoided.

As far as how to operate; it must start with Employee "Buy-in" and inclusion to the 1st levels of manufacturing. On this we agree. It works if done correctly. Everybody become the author of their Biography.

The old axiom "you can't inspect quality in" still holds true, as it always did. What I
referred to was Quality Assurance. Not "Quality Control" or "Inspection". And, as you say, Purchasing must be involved at the onset.

ISO standards are worthless if the process isn't correct. It does nothing for improving a product. All it does is to guarantee a product will be made consistently. If a product is crap, ISO only guarantees it will be crap consistently.

Consistent production of a "Quality Product" requires "Buy-in" at all levels and strong Management committment. Without that, any activity is doomed to failure.

I'm an Operations guy and have seen it more times than I care to remember.

You can enforce compliance. But you must enlist cooperation.

It's that simple.
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Old 07-14-2007, 08:39 AM   #16
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I absolutely agree with the last two posts and especially OldForester as I was in a similar situation in privately held companies I was priveleged to lead. Interestingly I have had this very same discussion in person with the highest management levels of WRV over the last 3 years. I am reasonably comfortable in saying that they did not get it "at all". In fact the problems that continue and especially the approach in the new shiney customer service area in my mind reinforce that they do not get it. Comment- thank god for us they have that customer service area. Tour leaders on plant tours were very proud of the experience and capablilities of the inspectors on the line catching all the defects - WRONG WAY. I have had the same coversation with Richard Fish and I am not convinced they get it yet although I have not been in the plant since the buyout so maybe things are changing. The WRV approach as best I could tell was that the hourly workforce was not getting it right. Management did not get it. I know people were not happy to see Mike Glazier go. I don't know if that was good or bad. If he was trying to influence changes mentioned above to happen then it is too bad, but I am not sure he wasn't part of the problem even though he was a good customer service person to talk coach owners thru problems and solutions after the fact. The Alpine is a heck of a good coach, well engineered but it has not been a quality product!!
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Old 07-14-2007, 05:17 PM   #17
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From the blind side; is this company being managed by "Accountants" or Financial people?
In my experience, these are the least equipped to deal with "Operations" problems. Success does not originate with only the monetary aspect of things. People are what make a company and it's success, or lack thereof, is simply a reflection of the management attitude and the message carried to the floor.
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Old 07-15-2007, 08:42 PM   #18
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Old Forester may have taken my approach a little different. Of course you cannot have quality without the buy-in of the employees, all of them, from the janitor on up to the senior leadership. In todays environment, the Product Assurance (not quality anymore) department is the enabler for the balance of the company. There will still be times when someone from the PA department needs to make the tough call that something is not right and stop the process. In that case, he needs to be organizationaly diorced from manufacturing, or he will not have any teeth in what he does.

I have seen numerous new quality approaches that all go towards one thing, getting the people doing the work to take ownership and pride in what they are doing. But, that is only one facet of where quality needs to go. We need to have engineering that has been reviewed to ensure it is producable and provides the best value, a supply chain that is monitored and ensure it supplies the best materials on time and at the required quality level, and processes that are mistake proofed and adequate to yield the desired end result. Only when all facets align will a quality product be delieverd to the customer.

Unfortunately, many companies believe that this all costs too much. Little do they realize that this will save them in the long run. Mistake proofed processes are more efficient and will assist the bottom line as will engineering that has been vetted prior to implementation, changes are darned expensive as is warranty work.

I hope that WRV starts to understand this before others do, possibly they can lead the industry in this arena and their profit will improve as a result.
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Old 07-15-2007, 08:47 PM   #19
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Jetar and rmmpe,

Appreciate your agreement with me on quality. To quote rmmpe "People are what make a company and its success or lack thereof, is simply a reflection of the management attitude and the message carried to the floor."

Boy, have I found this to be true. The quality one gets in the assembled product is the reflection of the management's input to the shop floor and their respect for the leadership and its desire to make quality happen. It's a two-way street both parties desire to live, breathe and have the desire to make it happen.

The only deviation I have found is the ability of the suppliers to match the quality requirements of the assembler, and for this Purchasing and Management have to be on top of it; not the shop floor other than their ability to give installation feedback.

So, it's a matter of ownership by WRV management and their employees ot make quality happen, not a separate quality department.
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Old 07-16-2007, 04:44 AM   #20
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I certainly agree with Bob Mahon. Having the cash to buy the right products does not create a quality product. It certainly helps. A large percentage of buyouts brings with it accountants & bean counters. Some of that is necassary. The big item by far is management must understand what it wants to accomplish. If they want a quality product then they need to educate there employees to build their product in that way and demand it. It certainly appeared to me that Mr Richard Fish had substantial hands on training to know what is required. I hope that experience is his priority in building Alpine motorcoaches. I hear a great deal of compliments about finishes and finished carpentry. They both leave a lot to be desired. The dash and the dashboard which smacks you right up front is extremely poor and needs to be totally redesigned. It truly is a poor imitiation of a very poor design. I know nothing about the workforce at Alpine and a little about management, but if you want quality it starts right at the top.
We have a country with politicians that have no idea who to blame but they are certain it is not them.YES IT IS, BUT THEY DON'T WANT TO ADMIT IT. Alpine has all the nucleus of a fine, quality motorcoach. Build it that way and let the consumer know it by showing it to him. Don't tell them about. Little things will absolutely kill you and big things will destroy you.
You certainly seem to have a tremendous amount of owners who truly believe in this product.
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Old 07-16-2007, 05:05 AM   #21
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Not knowing if WRV is a "Union" shop or not, I'll offer this:
I started a successful QA program with one (1) person; me. As a Professional Engineer starting many years ago "on the floor", I was able to evaluate the systems and proposed component usage before any overt Quality activity was undertaken. This included interviewing the suppliers and having them "Sell" us on why their product was best and to propose a "Least-cost" solution. This brought them into the fold as "Guaranteeing" the application and placing them squarely within UCC regulations and rulings.
From there, we conducted short, specific "Round-table" discussions with those being involved with the assembly processes. In most cases, I personally performed the operation(s) in order to determine the complexity and requirements of the operation. Then I would "join-forces" with the person assigned to that operation and we, together, developed the best method to insure proper fit and finish.

All operations had qualified operators and assembly people who were educated and capable of evaluating the incoming quality of the products. In some cases, they were required to perform tests of the components using simple in-house built jigs and fixtures. If an item was not 100% correct or questionable, it was set aside and returned to the supplier. BTW, there were also penalties imposed upon the supplier for repeatedly shipping us faulty products.

The long and short of it is: an outstanding Quality driven operation does not require a multitude of people. It requires only a strong committment by all and a single, knowledgable, dedicated person having a "Hands-on" mind-set to achieve success.

Having an "Overarching" goal of Zero defects sounds good but it takes time and is unrealistic. If a company really wants to improve their operation, starting at a known problem area to improve the product is a good 1st step. If the person tasked with improvement is good enough, every area they spend time in will be streamlined and evidenced by "Work simplification", documented Standard Practices, Inventory reduction, Employee pride, component approriateness and prompt and proper "Order-fill".

Sound simple? It isn't. In my experience, the hardest hurdle to overcome is Management Committment. Unless Management is totally behind an effort, the goal of the effort will never be fully achieved, consequently failing to some degree or other. At a greater cost than is justifiable.

Perhaps the easiest part of the entire effort is to get "Employee buy-in". These folks are not stupid and a wealth of knowledge and experience. Generally speaking, all they want is a voice in the process and recognition for their contributions. That's what makes it the simplest activity of all. Fact: Money is #3 on the list of job satisfaction. NOT #1, as most assume.

A word about Purchasing:
All purchasing activities are "Support services". NOT the last word in the purchasing decisions. Their job is to support the satisfactory completion of the end product. That means hearing what comes back from the floor and acting appropriately in order that mistakes not be repeated. As an example; if a part costing $10.00 requires 10 mounting holes and a part costing $15.00 requires only 4, the most cost-effective part is the $15.00 item. Usually, Labor is the most expensive component of any product. Any additional effort imposed on the Employee is a waste of resources and more costly in the long run. And, it requires that more Employees be on the payroll.

Now a word on "Accounting":
This is primarily a recording activity. Accountants are Historians. If there have been no expenditures, there is nothing to record. If there have been no Sales, there is nothing to record. If there are no employees, there is nothing to record. Get the idea? Consequently, "Accounting" is also a Support Service. It is their information that has value. NOT the effort of collecting it.
It is for this reason Accountants are generally poor decision-makers when it comes to Operations problems. There's more to that decision than looking at only how much it has, or will, cost. Most often, they are not equipped to envision an abstract result.

Selling in a competitive environment is much like being at war. If you've never been under enemy fire, you cannot always make a decision most proper for those that are.

Bottom line:
EVERY effort the Manufacturing process is dependent upon the others. In the real-world, all employees are partnered. Be they CEO or Janitor. We each rely on another's ability to perform a meaningful, contributory function. Unfortunately, too many people concern themselves with a "Pecking order", thereby compromising their ability to contribute.
As example; when it was required that I work on the line with my co-workers or go into the field with a Distributor or Sales person, we'd joke and laugh a lot. Without fail, we'd always get the job done right the 1st time. Our Warranty claims and/or problem calls were less than 1/2 of 1%. And that was due to faulty components provided by our suppliers.
Every person was made to feel an intrinsic part of our success and curiously enough, although I was "just one of the guys", I never had to remind them I was the GM.

I'm going to stop here. As I stated in earlier posts, this is a topic I get very passionate about and often get more than a bit "Carried away".

I'll close with "If you're gonna run with the Big Dogs, you'd better be able to do more than just bark".
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Old 07-16-2007, 07:22 AM   #22
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As is the norm for this topic, there has been a lot of great discussion and ideas forwarded here. The most important aspect for all of us would be for WRV to be reading this and realize that implementing a quality program as they go forward would be in the companies best interest.

I say quality starts with design at WRV due to my having an Avalanche. It is obvious to me that the design was not fully vetted prior to the production phase due to the many design related problems I have experienced. WRV stepped up to the plate and took care of the lions share of those problems with minimal impact to me (thanks WRV and Mike Glazier!). It is a good thing that WRV discontinued the Avalanche or they would certainly be bankrupt due to the multitude of warranty claims they would have experienced.

Like some others here, I am very passionate about the subject of quality. I do work in an environment where we simply cannot afford to deliver a deffective product, as there are numerous lives at stake not to mention a lot of taxpayer dollars. I also enjoy my Alpine and would like to see the company succeed so that I can buy another down the road with confidence.
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Old 07-18-2007, 02:37 AM   #23
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Just a small note to WRV. Why in H*** do you continue to use that ridiculous single lever on the shower control. WRV, you have been using it for years and we have all been complaing for years. Really seems like a very simple matter to correct and make lots of your customers very happy. How about a kit to change the older ones?
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Old 07-30-2007, 05:47 PM   #24
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I have heard that WRV has abandoned the factory that partially burned down in 2005 and has located in another building a distance away from the service center. Does anyone know anything about this?

Apparently Ron Doyle owns the factory and the new owners don't want to pay the high rent.
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Old 07-30-2007, 07:07 PM   #25
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We were at WRV on Tuesday 7/24. They are in the middle of moving there laminated walls ceiling and floors manufacturing in to the old ACE hardware distribution facility. Apparently there is 500,00SF and WRV will occupy a portion with the option to lease more as needed. Part of the facility will be used to manufacture Pilgrim trailers for West coast consumption.
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Old 07-30-2007, 07:35 PM   #26
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Jerry,

The building that had the fire is right there beside the service center, where they do the Apline Coach woodwork and painting, as well as manufacturing. The building itself didn't burn, in fact, the only damage you could see from the outside was smoke that had dirtied the roof vents.

The buildings over on Washington Avenue, where the fifth wheels and campers had been manufactured, were recently being used primarily for storage.... since that manufacturing had been moved to the newer Apline Coach buildings near the service center after Monomoy acquired the companies. In the past couple of months, WRV moved their excess storage and their fiberglass fabrications to part of an existing large building that had previoulsy been an ACE Hardware Distribution Center. Local realtors say that the rent that is being charged on the old ACE building is VERY reasonable. I've heard that the old buildings on Washington Avenue have a potential sale in the works, so WRV probably would have had to move their storage soon and it turned out to be financially convenient to use the ACE building.

Word also is that WRV is looking at several options for a new larger manufacturing facility that would consolidate all their operations and still keep the new service center. I think this is a high priority for Richard Fish.

Well, so much for the Yakima rumor mill......
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