Coats’ Ben Pryor Has Embraced Lean Thinking

Coats’ Ben Pryor Has Embraced Lean Thinking

Pryor spent four months learning lean principles by going to the “gemba.”

Continuous improvement, known as “lean” in the manufacturing world, has been a guiding force for Ben Pryor, vice president of commercial for the Coats Co.

Earlier in his career at Hennessy Industries (parent company of Coats), Pryor spent four months learning lean principles by going to the “gemba” – a Japanese term that refers to the place where the work is done.

“Myself and four other individuals went out and interviewed hundreds of technicians, service managers and shop owners in order to bring that knowledge back and identify specific problems that our industry is facing today as well as in the next three to five years, and then provide a solution offering and get it validated,” Pryor explains.

Pryor, appearing on “AMN Drivetime” with Bill Babcox, says the four-month lean immersion was “a rich experience” that continues to inform his thinking and decisions. The experience built on his previous exposure to lean while working for a manufacturing business in the St. Louis area earlier in his career.

“Being able to see lean manufacturing and the lean philosophy in action, very much driven by continuous improvement and identifying waste, and being brought into that fold more or less baptized into it and trained up with it, gives you a different perspective,” Pryor says. It’s a philosophy that Coats is “very interested in sharing” with its customers and other stakeholders, he adds.

In this “AMN Drivetime” episode, Ben and Bill also talk about:

  • 00:36 – Ben’s path to the automotive aftermarket
  • 2:14 – People who have influenced Ben the most during his career
  • 4:00 – Life-changing, momentous moments in his career
  • 8:16 – Process of company rebranding
  • 10:38 – Branching into other service categories
  • 11:59 – Coats’ shop-productivity software
  • 15:18 – How tire equipment likely will evolve
  • 17:25 – The Lightning Round!

 AMN Drivetime is sponsored by AISIN.

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