Pro Features

Get your business lean in 2019

It sounds pretty simple, and it is: the leaner your business, the better it performs.

A lean business doesn’t mean fewer staff doing more; in fact, it’s about getting the best out of people, processes and equipment.

Steffan Kelly of The Lean Hub, says LEAN is “a way of thinking and acting”. It’s being focussed on performance and creating efficiencies.

And he has practiced what he preaches, having successfully adopted LEAN while working at a cashew nut food manufacturing plant in Bali, Indonesia.

“The business was going through rapid growth with 350 staff and we needed to make changes to become more efficient. I’d heard about LEAN and thought it would be worth giving it a go and the results this way of operating produced were outstanding.

The Lean Hub has now partnered with Hastings District Council’s economic development team to offer and deliver a 12-month tailored LEAN programme for local businesses.

Last year Hastings drainage business Drainways undertook the programme and experienced its significant positive impact on the growth of their business.

The family business headed by Mark Currie and his two brothers, Jaydon and Carlton, was looking for a step change in its performance and it took up the challenge to get LEAN.

“The business was reliant on the three brothers; Jaydon and Carlton working on the tools all day while Mark was organising the work, securing new business and managing all the office administration.

“With help from The Lean Hub we set up clear roles and responsibilities so that everyone including staff knew where they stood. By clearly defining all the roles and putting in place key performance measures and targets and staff are offered a greater challenge and in turn greater rewards.”

At Drainways the business had five drainlayers of varying skills and experience. Thanks

Lean Hub’s Steffan Kelly (left) with Mark Currie from Drainways and Lee Neville, Hastings District Council economic development manager

to LEAN the roles became more clearly defined to one skilled drainlayer, two digger operators and a general labourer.

The change provided career progression and ultimately business growth. Staff now have a career pathway with progression to more senior roles and the business has grown from eight to 18 employees.

“You get consistency of work and no impediments as staff are no longer frustrated because they now understand the bigger picture and how their role has an impact. At the end of the day the business owner and the employee want the same and that’s seeing a positive future in the business.

Mark Currie says local businesses should take up the opportunity of going up through the programme.

“Steffan did such an amazing job, 100 percent. He was proactive and very hands on. It wasn’t all text book stuff. He came out and observed the team on projects and that also helped refine our systems and processes.

“We were able to get some early runs on the board through making some small changes that built up to the bigger changes which boosted our turnover as well as create new jobs within the business.

“Some of the simple changes included getting staff to think about reducing downtime, for example previously they would forget to take something that would be needed on site that day. They were shown what the impact of that downtime was and they put in a process that stopped this from occurring, which then boosted productivity,” Mark says.

Hastings District Council economic development manager Lee Neville says the programme has had significant success for local businesses over the last two years.

He says that for council, the spin offs are creating job opportunities and career pathways for youth as well as ultimately boosting the economic vitality of the district.

“It’s about adding value to the district’s economy but we also want to support local business leaders in their personal development, which has a positive impact on their business and those whom they employ.

“Another spin off of growing local business is that direct local suppliers also benefit. That’s been the case with Drainways, whom having gone through the programme they now have the capacity and capability to secure larger projects. This in turn means they are sourcing more products and services from other local businesses.”

Steffan and his team help put in place plans and processes that support continuous business improvement as well as providing business owners with new skills and tools to create sustainable growth.

To engage with staff, Steffan’s team use a range of fun, effective and interactive tools. These tools help The Lean Hub really engage and connect the people in the business to the performance of the business.

“Growth, profits and loyalty rise exponentially when you have committed staff who continuously create and implement productive solutions.”

The programme is broken down into four game changing quarters starting with training and application followed by sustainability and growth.

Hastings businesses can apply for funding support to undertake the year long programme. Hastings District Council has invested $80,000 into the programme with four placements available for 2019. The council’s investment into each business undertaking the programme is matched dollar for dollar, up to a maximum of $20,000.

“It’s well worth the investment, our business has already seen a substantial return on the investment in a very short time and we are now in a position for sustainable growth,” says Mark.

To find out more about LEAN visit