With supply chain challenges continuing to confound label and package printers, saving time and money while driving efficiency in a manufacturing facility has never been more important. SPL Consulting has focused on the processes and procedures that help optimize performance in these plants.
Brian Van de Water, CEO, SPL Consulting, has helped bring Lean Manufacturing and strategic planning to countless label converters throughout the years. From working with leadership to identifying sources of waste on the shop floor, Van de Water has been instrumental in supporting the industry.
Most recently, SPL Consulting reached an impressive milestone: creating over 100,000 hours of additional capacity for the firm’s clients. According to Van de Water, these savings translate to 50 full-time positions.
“I want to thank the clients who trusted me enough to bring me into their organization and the people I met along the way for making my dream become a reality,” says Van de Water. “It’s an exciting achievement for me. The savings we’ve reached also equate to over $11 million in machine rate capacity and $35 million in revenue capacity. I didn’t initially set out with that as a target, I was just hoping to survive.”
SPL Consulting has emerged as a trusted partner of many leaders in the label and package printing space. Blue Label Packaging Company, Brook + Whittle, Creative Labels Inc., and Tailored Label Products are among those that have leaned on Van de Water’s services to help boost their operations.
SPL Consulting starts with a deep assessment of an organization. Through the assessment, SPL uncovers strategic, process improvement and organizational opportunities that clients often haven’t thought about – or they are unaware of. The firm then creates a detailed and prioritized course of action to improve through a combination of strategic planning, Lean Enterprise and organizational changes that generate results.
“When reviewing the financial impact after just three events, one client said, ‘Something must be wrong. Net income has never been this high,’” explains Van de Water. “The trailing quarter was four times higher than any quarter in the company’s 25-year history. I showed the direct correlation to capacity hours created to the drop through in net income. Another client, after just four months, generated and sustained an increase of over $1 million of revenue per month resulting from increased capacity.”
Prior to starting SPL, Van de Water successfully led seven turnarounds without eliminating positions, using the tools and leadership approach with which he now consults.
“One client said, ‘The other consultant was T-ball, you are the Major League,” he says. “Another had this to say: ‘If we had Fantasy Label Teams, he’d be a top first-round draft pick.’ If I don’t think I can add value, I will not take on the engagement.”
Van de Water has become a fixture at many prominent labeling events, from TLMI functions to the FLAG Annual Meeting. SPL has grown along with the businesses of its clients.
“When I started SPL Consulting, my wife was freaked out and frankly, so was I,” recalls Van de Water. “Most who attempt this don’t succeed. I committed 100% to stay the course and ignored offers of employment. I still have moments of doubt, but I am increasingly confident that SPL will be able to serve industry for many years to come. More importantly, I am blessed to have developed lasting, lifelong friendships with many of SPL’s clients.”
SPL Consulting’s services have become even more valuable as companies deal with supply chain challenges and staffing shortages. Companies often invest in new equipment. In the case of Van de Water, he works with clients to optimize the tools currently present in their facility. Oftentimes, making the decision to change is hardest part.
“It seems many companies struggle to make the decision to move forward for too long,” he remarks. “One of the philosophies I share repeatedly with clients is this, ‘Take action, and any action is better than no action – even if it is wrong – as long as we learn from it.’ You won’t improve if you don’t try. I hear repeatedly from clients that their teams gain trust in me very quickly and see that SPL’s efforts will make their lives better.”
As the industry evolves, advancements in automation will improve performance in speed, quality, and changeover times. Lean processes will continue to be a valuable tool in shaping standard work with these new processes.
“Those processes involve both transactional and manufacturing-based systems that will need to be reviewed periodically as companies grow,” states Van de Water. “Working with teams to create standard work will always be crucial to developing and maintaining scalable processes. SPL’s unique combination of strategic planning and process improvement expertise equip me to add value from the boardroom to front line.”