Leaning into Lean: Investing in People

As part of our 2023 Sustainability Report series, this excerpt emphasizes the collaborative efforts and invaluable contributions of our workforce, guiding our sustainable initiatives. 

Since 2007, Coastal Automotive has nurtured a culture of partnership where employees find fulfillment in completing meaningful work with opportunities to grow in their roles. Our team has increased its investment in our most valuable stakeholders – our people – as part of Coastal’s triple bottom line: people, planet, and prosperity, to continue working fiercely toward our ongoing sustainability efforts.

When it comes to the individuals who make Coastal Automotive’s work possible, we prioritize inherent equity and compassion to support the personal and professional growth of our team. We recognize that we may not always have the answers, but our company’s commitment to open communication fosters the trust necessary to find them.

In 2023, we invited a third-party, lean-solutions expert to conduct one-on-one interviews with each of our employees. Our team members answered questions about decision-making, employee input, and what bothered them. This deep dive provided invaluable insight into what Coastal is doing right and where the company could do more. We learned that in some instances, our team members functioned as firefighters—moving from emergency to emergency, running in on Saturdays to handle problems, and putting in stressful overtime. The changes we rolled out reduced these issues and included Kanban scheduling—a resource replenishment system based upon only making new products when existing stock leaves the plant.

The efficiencies created by implementing this change were driven by the employees and resulted in:

  • Elimination of virtually all unplanned overtime
  • Reduced stress
  • A greater sense of ownership, empowerment and agency

Follow-ups showed that our lean-solutions plan eliminated the majority of concerns voiced through the one-on-one interviews.

“We failed so many times, but we failed together as we moved the needle towards a rhythm and system that worked. The employees saw us as partners in the process because we were down on the floor with them as we figured things out.”

Director of Operations, Toby Curry

This sentiment is echoed by multiple members of Coastal’s team. Louis Howerton, production supervisor said, “When we have something that works well, we communicate about it, but when we fall short or we’re close, we rally as a team to make sure it gets completed or we understand where we fell short and correct it.”

We’re grateful for our team’s trust and feedback that strengthens our ability to make Coastal Automotive a great place to work today and for years to come.

Learn more about Coastal Automotive and our ongoing investment in our team’s success in our latest sustainability report.

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