Coolers to Dollars: Korellis Roofing takes up employee suggestions to save thousands

By Curtis Hankins, NW Indiana Life.

Note: RT3 Member Tony Brummel of Korellis Roofing was featured in NW Indiana Life for improving processes leading to nearly $500,000 in savings for the company.

Tony Brummel is used to skepticism. He promises to cut a businesses’ costs without losing jobs, while creating more work, and making things more convenient for employees. It sounds far-fetched, but he has done just that at Korellis Roofing as their Business Process Manager – helping to save the local roofing company more than $500,000 since he joined last December.

Brummel’s job centers on identifying the different processes in play at Korellis and mapping ways of improving them. He adopts the continual process improvement principle called DMAIC. DIMA is a LEAN Six-Sigma methodology, which in basic terms, provides a way to problem-solve. It breaks down the process into five steps – define, measure, analyze, improve and control.

“Our President Pete Korellis is really forward thinking,” Brummel said. “The idea is to stay ahead of the competition and set ourselves apart. This methodology allows us to be more efficient and effective.”

Brummel can talk for hours about the strategies, data, and complex methodology behind his work, but in many ways, it is quite simple. He starts out by doing a one-on-one interview with almost everyone on staff. They explain their job, how they do it, and any common problems or inconveniences they have. Then, he sets to work finding solutions to those struggles and creating ways to get everyone communicating effectively.

“I ask, what and where’s your biggest headache? Or, if you could do something to make your job better what would it be,” Brummel explained. “No idea is discounted, no idea is bad.”

Sometimes, huge savings are found in the simplest places. After Brummel had been around for a while, one roofer joked that getting more efficient coolers for their ice could be the next big change.

“I just said. ‘let’s talk about that, tell me why,’” he said. “He explained that their ice melts too fast and he has to run to the gas station to refill the cooler. I pointed out that’s half an hour or so of downtime each day. We got them new coolers and it will save that one crew $3,000 annually,” Brummel said.

In fact, Brummel encourages these kinds of suggestions on a regular basis, folding continuous process improvement into the fabric of everyone’s workday. At the Korellis safety meeting in February, team members were recognized for their brainstorming sessions that resulted in new techniques and innovations that saved nearly 10,000 labor hours annually.

Business process managers like Brummel are still fairly rare in the construction industry, despite being ripe with opportunities for improvements. That puts Korellis on the cutting edge, making things more convenient for their employees.

“I think that uniqueness comes from a lack of exposure to this kind of thinking,” Brummel said. “But Pete and his core team are always looking forward.”

Source: NW Indiana Life