Success Story

Hardwood Industries


Wood Products


Portland, Bend, Medford, Seattle

Date Founded


Number of Employees



Hardwood Industries was founded in 1981 as a hardwood distributor to residential cabinet shops, commercial fixture manufacturers, general manufacturers, resellers and other B2B customers of secondary wood products in Portland, Oregon.


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Labor Savings: order pulling, cut and brand and millwork

$5 Million

New and Retained Sales


Investment in Equipment and Plant

The Situation

Hardwood Industries has grown significantly, expanding to include facilities in Seattle, Medford, and Bend. Currently, they employ over 100 people. Hardwood Industries engaged OMEP for 18 months in 2012 as part of a lean implementation project. In 2014 they hired a Continuous Improvement Manager and engaged OMEP in a mentoring and leadership role to support the new manager’s onboarding process and initiatives.

Most recently, Hardwood Industries experienced a higher rate of errors in their Order Process Department due to training and documentation inconsistencies. There was little standard approach to the training process or its delivery, and it took a significant amount of time to bring people up to the standard performance. Thus, Hardwood Industries engaged with OMEP to implement a new approach to training.

The Solution

After the Continuous Improvement Manager hired by Hardwood had fully integrated to this role, OMEP partnered in a variety of improvement activities. Partnering with Hardwood Industries’ leadership team. OMEP provides consulting, coaching and ongoing strategic support for their continuous improvement activities.

Hardwood Industries introduced Structured On-the-Job Training and Standard Work within the Order Processing Department. OMEP and HI partnered to create 20 highly visual job modules in the Order Processing Department. These skill modules focus on training where the work takes place, and are designed to be delivered in 30-minute training sessions. Knowledge modules are delivered in 90 minutes or less.


The Results

Setup reduction activities have made a significant improvement to Hardwood Industries’ receiving chain operations, including nearly doubling per labor hour productivity. Hardwood Industries now has an even deeper understanding of their daily operations due to value stream accounting activities and newly implemented visual dashboard systems.

Through the Structured On The Job Training Method, Hardwood upskilled trainers using Train the Trainer Workshops. As a result, the Order Processing training time was reduced from 30 days to 3 days, for a total improvement of 90%. The training itself was intentional, structured, and consistent.

This created development opportunities for internal Hardwood Industries employees, allowing them to learn new skills, which in turn translated to better employee engagement. Because incumbent workers developed new skills, employees are now excited about new opportunities to learn. Hardwood Industries is on the path to success, building a company with a culture of learning as its foundation.


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Causing improved bottom-line results is difficult. We engaged with OMEP because we were stagnant. Our results were subpar and all of our employees were frustrated with below-average company performance. Flash forward 3 years and an unbelievable change has occurred.

Results have improved, but more important than that is most of our employees have embraced the cultural shift we needed to make. They know and want to get better at their jobs. They know expectations for their job functions and want to achieve them. It’s fun to get better and be a part of a succeeding team. OMEP opened this door for us. We all feel we can continue to improve, will distance ourselves from our competition, and produce improved bottom-line results.

Jeff Wirkkala