One Year In, Washington Greenhouse Growers Score Big Gains With Lean


Workers at Skagit Horticulture were able to become more efficient thanks to implementing lean practices.

The first year of the Washington Lean Consortium has wrapped up successfully, with members reporting significant improvements when they met for final reports at Skagit Farmers Supply in Burlington, WA, on June 7.


Leaders from Botanical Designs, Skagit Farmers Supply Agronomy Division, Skagit Horticulture, and T&L Nursery have worked together for a year to apply Lean principles in each others’ organizations. Reports from the year showed gains that exceeded expectations:
• 67% productivity increase on a sedum trimming process at Skagit Horticulture, with 75% reduction in people travel
• 408% productivity gain for racking plants for installation jobs with Botanical Designs. The company cut lead time 81%, reduced people travel 75%, and eliminated $4,500 worth of unneeded inventory.
• Reduced setup time by 67% at Skagit Horticulture’s Riverbend site, with a 26% shorter lead time and 23% smaller crew size for transplanting product. This team had an overall productivity gain of 25% on the process.
• Cut 5.25 seconds per plant at T&L Nursery in the process of pulling, cleaning, labeling, and moving product to shipping racks.
• 98% shorter lead time for truck loading at Botanical Designs’ Holiday Warehouse. By developing standard work, the process now deploys less than half the number of people and virtually eliminates errors.
• Improved productivity 129% on a trimming process at T&L Nursery, reducing lead time by 58%.
• 43% fewer process steps for managing inventory at Skagit Farmers Supply Agronomy North facility, with less paperwork, fewer errors, and better communication between departments.

Inspiration from Cooperation

“The Washington Lean Consortium quickly became a tight group,” says Corey Hill, Operations Manager for Skagit Horticulture. “Inspiration came from cooperation between the companies. When you host your customers, suppliers, and even your competition, it locks you into thinking Lean and holds you accountable. It’s awesome to be a part of their improvements, too.”

Lean is a proven method for eliminating waste. It results in more value to customers, delivered at a lower cost, in a shorter time, with fewer defects and less human effort. Deployed effectively, Lean not only reduces waste, but brings a strong message of long-term commitment to employee development and continuous improvement.

“Lean has been an incredible tool for us to evaluate and improve our effectiveness,” says Natasha Blanchette, Botanical Designs Production Manager.

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