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Everybody Matters at BW Flexible Systems in Duncan

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“Everybody Matters” at BW Flexible Systems in Duncan

Last week marked the first OpExChange plant visit of Q2 2024, hosted by BW Flexible Systems in Duncan, South Carolina. The main focus of the tour was to provide insights into their people-centric culture and their ongoing implementation of lean manufacturing principles via a tiered reporting system.

About The Visit

Thirty-two OpExChange representatives from twenty-three peer organizations across the state participated in the three-hour plant visit. While the attendees gleaned many insights into lean manufacturing practices, it was BW Flexible Systems’ unique culture and leadership program that made the most lasting impression.

Jake Husky, the Operations Director at the Duncan site, extended a warm welcome to each visitor upon their arrival. He then gave a brief overview of BW Flexible Systems and its affiliation with the parent company, Barry-Wehmiller, led by CEO Bob Chapman.

Understanding BW Flexible Systems

BW Flexible Systems is one of several companies within the Barry-Wehmiller family, specializing in the construction of custom equipment for flexible packaging, including form, fill, and seal packaging solutions. Production at the Duncan plant includes both vertical, gravity-fed machines, and horizontal, in-feed systems, employing approximately 220 dedicated individuals. Globally, Barry-Wehmiller has a workforce exceeding 12,000 team members across more than 120 sites, with an annual revenue surpassing $3 billion.

Leadership Crisis and Transformation

Husky provided insight into the development of the leadership program within the Barry-Wehmiller corporation. Bob Chapman has been the CEO and Chairman of this company for over 45 years, starting when he was only 30 years old. According to Chapman, nearly 88% of the workforce goes home at the end of the workday believing that they work for a company that does not care about them. He contends that many societal issues are a symptom of employees feeling undervalued by their organizations.

In response to this, Chapman, in 2015, co-authored a book called, “Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People like Family”, a Wall Street Journal Best Seller. This book details his journey towards transforming workforce engagement, serving as a call-to-action for leaders and organizations across the nation.

Emphasizing People Over Profit

BW Flexible Systems’ vision statement centers on valuing and empowering their people to achieve business success, thus positively impacting the lives of all stakeholders. An integral part of their approach to people-centric leadership is the establishment of their very own Barry-Wehmiller University, which emphasizes activities, breakout groups, practice sessions, and continued learning beyond class time.

Jake highlighted that the leadership team at BW is expected to coach and mentor others, reinforcing that these courses are open to all employees, not just those with “Leader” in their titles. This, in combination with the company’s commitment to job security and a no-layoff policy, reinforces the organization’s people-first approach.

Lean Manufacturing At BW Flexible Systems

The Duncan facility has been engaging in lean activities for about fifteen years, with a significant focus on the “Respect for People” principle of the Toyota Production System. They have implemented a tiered reporting system that focuses on Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost, and People metrics (SQDCP), tailored to their operations. This system promotes daily teamwork and cascades vital information upwards, ensuring alignment, and driving strategic decisions.

Final Reflections

Ultimately, BW Flexible Systems operates under the idea that a strong and engaged culture in an organization is foundational to the sustained success of any initiative or change. This belief manifests as a genuine care for employees – an approach that not only improves the organization’s competitiveness but also contributes positively to societal change. This conviction is at the heart of Barry-Wehmiller’s Guiding Principles of Leadership, their very foundational document. As their vision statement underscores, BW truly measures success by the way they touch the lives of people.

About OpExChange

The OpExChange is a peer-to-peer network of manufacturers and distributors in South Carolina known for fostering success for its members through benchmarking and sharing best practices. Member companies host events and share practical examples of various improvements, making it a highly valuable resource for South Carolina companies. More information about OpExChange can be found on their website

Everybody Matters at BW Flexible Systems in Duncan Spartanburg SC

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