Grand Slam Safety makes sports fencing and netting to keep players and fans safe. They have solutions for just about any sport and just about any kind of indoor or outdoor venues.
Based in Croghan, Grand Slam Safety serves college and high school athletic departments, architects, sports facility development companies, and parks and rec departments across the U.S. The company currently employs around 17 people.
Grand Slam Safety was ready to take on two challenges.
First, the company's focus is on safety in sports fencing and netting; making sure that their products protect players and spectators from errant balls and other projectiles. But every sports netting company says they focus on safety. Grand Slam wanted a measurable standard, both so they could prove that their products did improve safety, and also to build a culture around safety standards at every sports facility. The company believed that an ASTM standard around these products will position them to become industry leaders.
Secondly, the current facility is ready to take on that growth and has the capacity for a fourfold increase in volume. The challenge however, is in the quoting system. Company leadership understands that there is a bottleneck in the quoting system that will stall their ability to grow.
To address the safety standards, Grand Slam Safety worked through the MEP to have their products evaluated through the labs at the University of Tennessee. Several tests were performed to replicate a potential safety incident and Grand Slams Specto products outperformed all of the competition. They were given a report from the University of Tennessee detailing the results of testing. Creation of an ASTM standard has been met with some resistance but the team has used the data to market their products to new and potential customers.
To address concerns about the quotation process, CITEC and the Grand Slam team worked through a Value Stream Map of the process. The team identified two product families: baseball/softball fencing systems and indoor containment systems. One of the main observations was that the quotation process for the two families is similar. The main difference/variation between the two is the level of detail needed for the indoor containment systems. The fencing systems have been a part of the GSS portfolio since the beginning and many of the design elements of these systems are available within the internal database, which decreases the lead-time for this product family. The indoor containment systems product suite could have many design elements that are not readily available and must be fleshed out with the client.
The major impact on the lead-time of the quotation process is waiting for the exchange of communication/information between GSS and the client, so the team developed specific countermeasures; expand on the intake questions; ensure that the questions link to contract template and design files to reduce in-house processing time; train the sales team to have more knowledge of the quoting process; and move toward more seamlessness between quoting and design; include more face-to-face client interactions using current technology. These tools have proved effective at increasing the efficiency of the entire sales process and resulted in $500,000 in increased sales.
Once the company learned to use the Value Stream Map for this project, a similar process was also used to evaluate the company’s invoicing system. The Grand Slam Safety team has continued to use what they learned from working with CITEC Business Solutions. They have made additional improvements on their shop floor in their welding, sewing, curtain and storage departments, all using the PDCA mindset, resluting in a 50 percent increase in efficiency.
"Working with CITEC was a great experience for us at Grand Slam. Their access to grants really helped move this project across the line. Major improvements have been made in several key areas of the facility, and we have identified our next areas of focus." says GSS owner Mickey Lehman.
This work was partially funded through a partnership with National Grid's Manufacturing Production Program which is set up to help manufacturers grow.
CITEC is a not-for-profit business consulting organization serving the seven counties of Jefferson, Lewis, Clinton, St Lawrence, Essex, Franklin, and Hamilton. We are driven by a mission to help the small and medium sized enterprises in northern New York to thrive. The depth of our consulting team's expertise and an unbeatable nationwide network of resources will deliver the impacts your business needs to grow strategically, improve profitability, and create the competitive advantages you need.