KIRCHHOFF Automotive

Success with The Center

KIRCHHOFF AUTOMOTIVE: Achieving Excellence through Continuous Improvement

The Center has played a very big role in helping our team embrace the tools that are needed to be successful in Lean Manufacturing. Our measurable improvements are proof that The Center training is effective when used to develop and educate team members in a manufacturing environment.
-- Missy Smith, Plant Manager

Established in 1785, KIRCHHOFF Automotive is a family-owned automotive supplier. In 2011, KIRCHHOFF Automotive gained control of Van-Rob to become a Tier 1, full-service, global supplier with facilities in 11 countries around the world. Today, KIRCHHOFF Automotive ( is a leading manufacturer and designer for complex metal and hybrid structures in body-in-white, crash management systems, chassis applications and cross car beams. KIRCHHOFF Automotive employs 211 at their Lansing, MI facility.


As KIRCHHOFF Automotive continued to experience growth in the Lansing region, they needed to establish a solid lean culture among all employees, practices and operations.


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After working with Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) in the past, KIRCHHOFF Automotive wanted The Center to be involved in developing their culture of continuous improvement. Throughout months of working together, KIRCHHOFF Automotive underwent training in several areas to drive their continuous improvement goals and establish this mindset among all employees. This training supported continuous improvement initiatives in a variety of areas, such as Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, Risk Management, Core Tools, A3 Problem Solving, 8D Root Cause Analysis, Total Productive Maintenance and GD&T Fundamentals. Additional training included:

1. IATF 16949:2016 Internal Auditor- This training set up the Quality team for success as they were able to quickly and easily complete their IATF 16949:2016 external audit on the first attempt.

2. 5S Training & Application- Due to the training in this course, attendees were able to maintain high quality practices, with their newfound organization and standardization ultimately enabling their team to successfully complete their ISO 14001:2015 audit on time with zero non-conformances.

This training left a lasting impact of continuous improvement among the employees involved, including Quality Specialist Stephen Cook, who stated, “I’ve been working with these Quality and Lean tools for several years, but the classes I took with The Center helped me put the pieces together and really understand the benefits of using them. These classes are very educational, and the return is well-worth the time invested.” This successful culture change at KIRCHHOFF Automotive led to their Plant Manager, Missy Smith, being awarded with the Manufacturer’s Excellence Award from the Capital Area Manufacturing Council.


  • Jobs Retained: 200
  • Cost Savings: 2%
  • Customer complaints reduced by 60%
  • Turnover reduced by 23.5% by educating employees and promoting from within