RoMan Manufacturing, Inc.

Success with The Center

ROMAN MANUFACTURING: Improving Efficiencies & Morale With Lean

MMTC-West’s User Group format enabled RoMan to work in a group setting and tackle some of our most difficult lean challenges. The results have had a dramatic impact both on our production processes and our culture here at RoMan Manufacturing.
-- Robert Roth, President and CEO-RoMan Manufacturing

RoMan Manufacturing is a family-owned manufacturer of high current, low voltage power sources and transformers in West Michigan. Founded in 1980, and located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, RoMan Manufacturing serves a variety of industries, focusing primarily on: automotive and industrial resistance welding, glass melting and forming, industrial process furnaces, and plating systems. The company employs over 125 people across its three manufacturing facilities located in: Burlington, Ontario; Wyoming, Michigan and corporate headquarters in Grand Rapids.


A staunch supporter of lean manufacturing, President and CEO, Bob Roth has made significant investments in time and treasure pursuing the elimination of waste from the company’s highly customized manufacturing processes. Although the company follows many lean principles and is ISO certified, Roth felt a critical component was still missing. Lean practices had made significant improvements to RoMan’s processes, but a general “culture” of lean thinking throughout the company had not been established.

RoMan Manufacturing is a member of The Right Place/MMTC-West Manufacturers Council. As part of the sharing and collaboration that occurs during council events, it became apparent that RoMan was not the only company in the region struggling with the challenge of establishing a culture of lean. As a result, several area manufacturers, including RoMan, reached out to the MMTC-West team for assistance.


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MMTC-West worked with RoMan Manufacturing and several other companies from the Manufacturers Council to launch a new Lean Culture User Group. Designed specifically for council members, the goal of the user group was to build upon existing knowledge of the mechanics of lean practices and establish a culture of lean thinking throughout the company. As a member of the new user group, RoMan worked with MMTC-West facilitators to implement a “system” of lean principles across the organization.

One immediate impact the user group had on RoMan affected the company’s plans to remodel and redesign its front offices. With a new understanding and drive to establish a lean culture, RoMan modified its remodel plans to create an open office environment that improved information flow, easy collaboration, and a culture of empowerment and problem solving.

Once the company completed its Lean Culture User Group experience, RoMan Manufacturing turned to MMTC for assistance on the shop floor. Because of the company’s low volume, highly customized product portfolio and production, gaining efficiencies in the production process is very difficult. RoMan enrolled in MMTC’s Shop Floor Lean User Group and worked in a group with other West Michigan manufacturers to find opportunities for improvement and efficiency. RoMan created a current and future state value stream map and improvement plan for production scheduling, staging, and build flow. Using A3 project plans, the company was able to track progress in both improvement processes and culture changes.


  • As a result of efficiencies gained on both production and production space, RoMan Manufacturing was able to invest in a new $2.7 million expansion and add a new product line, creating 20 new jobs in West Michigan.
  • RoMan Manufacturing realized a 25% increase in productivity and 30% reduction in “work in process”, as a result of implementing a flow cart process to the production line.
  • Batch lot size has gone from 100 units to 5 units with the goal one-piece production flow.
  • The company documented a 30% increase in morale and communication due to the new remodel and open office design. New access to senior management dramatically improved speed of decision-making and project flow. Overall employee satisfaction is tracked via a satisfaction survey of six questions conducted every six months.