How did your team react as they transitioned from making furniture to making PPE?

In this series, Jeff Kaas explains what the Kaas Tailored team learned about continuous improvement as we transitioned from making furniture to making PPE during the COVID19 global pandemic. In our first episode we explain why Kaas Tailored started making PPE, Today, Jeff talks about how the Kaas Tailored team reacted to this transition.

The team responded really well. We’ve ended our emergency operations meaning we decided that we have made all things normal again. Normal includes the reality that our aerospace customers don’t need more than half of what we need. Normal means that our furniture customers don’t need furniture right now. Normal means that we now have a division called Kaas Health, and that in order to keep people employed, we’re going to have to chase darn near anything to build in our factory.

Also, normal now includes just the way we communicate. There are some new habits that we’ve been building. I would say that the team responded really well. There’s something that I think we also learned is, in a crisis, there’s a fighter type response, a flight response, and maybe a freeze response. Within our team, we had a lot of that. I don’t know if all of you felt any of those at any given time in the past three months, but I sure felt all three.

It has been probably the toughest season … But we’ve experienced the most growth. There’s an idea that you count as joy, trials that you might experience. This is a trial. I know there’s a bunch of shit that’s going down for all of you. I know there’s a bunch of tough stuff coming our way, your way. I also know that in 10 years, those who actually look back on this with a sweet memory, there’ll be something in this time where we gathered together, and we became stronger people.

This is a time when your faith is tested. This is a time when your principles are tested. It’s a time when your teamwork is tested. I’ve had to apologize 10 times more than usual, and I normally should apologize a lot. I’d say the team, we’re human beings and we all respond in different ways. We learned a lot about each other, and all were very supportive.

In March of 2020, Providence Health and Services started the 100 Million Mask Challenge. The hope was to reach out to their local community to help create much-needed PPE, due to the COVID19 global pandemic. Within a few days, Providence and Kaas Tailored formed a partnership to rapidly-produce face shields and face masks for caregivers. As the new normal settled in, we realized how much we missed hosting guests in our factory and leading Waste Tours. We hosted a zoom call in early June and asked participants to send in their questions about waste and continuous improvement so that we could share what we’d learned about continuous improvement as we transitioned from making furniture to making PPE. Stay tuned for the rest of the series.