American AVK Company
Company Develops Keys Production Supervisors

“The unique design and flexibility of this on-site Supervisor Development Project has been very cost effective without requiring travel off site or much time away from work areas.”
– Mike Enos, Controller, American AVK Company

The Company:

American AVK is a leading U.S. manufacturer of high quality gate valves, fire hydrants, and accessories for the water, wastewater, fire protection, and irrigation industries. It was incorporated in 1985 to introduce AVK gate valves to North America. Since then, the company has continued to expand its production facilities, marketing activities and product range. From its state-of-the-art 180,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Minden, NV, AVK and its 125 employees supply products for utilities throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.

The Problem:

American AVK believes in continually supporting employee development. Several production supervisors had been promoted from hourly positions within the company and needed to learn how to transition to a salaried department or group leader style of operating. Leadership wanted to make sure the company was following its well-documented quality system in all cases. It wanted to see more continuous improvement initiatives, with supervisors locating the root cause of any production problem rather than just fixing the immediate problem. American AVK sought outside assistance in developing its new supervisors to establish a more robust culture of continuous improvement. It needed a cost-effective training method that would take minimal time from each supervisor and have more lasting effects than a workshop or seminar. After the Nevada Industry Excellence (NVIE) mentioned on-site coaching at a conference, American AVK contacted the NIST MEP affiliate for assistance.

The Solution:

NVIE brought in a leadership development coach to implement a six-month program for the AVK Production Supervisor team. The coach held individual and small group coaching conversations on the shop floor during production operations, allowing supervisors to remain “on the job.” NVIE engaged upper management in the development of the participants and used real time company situations as training opportunities. Participants met with the coach in bimonthly sessions to learn and implement key leadership principles.

The company established a continuous improvement team to involve the shop floor in recognizing productivity, quality and safety opportunities. The team continues to meet every two weeks, identifying opportunities for improvement that are implemented or prioritized in the budgeting process. Within six months, American AVK saw significant cost savings of labor and machine operations time and reinvested the savings to provide staffing for the development and sale of new products.

The Results:
  • 390% return on investment
  • Annual cost savings of $84,680
  • Improved staffing skills, including inter-department communication
  • Increased workplace safety and improved product quality