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Smith Foundry Company

Since 1923, Smith Foundry Company has been producing gray and ductile iron castings for the agricultural, power generation, heating and air conditioning, water related, and general industrial application industries. Smith specializes in low and medium volume production run castings ranging from several ounces up to 250 lbs., as well as casting conversions, rapid prototyping, and engineering design assistance for its customers. The company’s customer base ranges from Fortune 500 companies to small machine shops, many of which have been loyal customers of Smith for over 30 years. Smith employs 65 people at its plant located just south of downtown Minneapolis.

In early 2011, Smith Foundry was experiencing a rapid increase in business volume and they decided to scale up operations and grow its workforce. This influx of new employees, as well as the promotion of new supervisors, presented Smith with a unique opportunity to begin to build a culture based around lean manufacturing methodologies and environmentally-friendly practices.

Enterprise Minnesota lean and talent development experts Tim Bjorgum and Sam Gould presented Smith with a two-part solution to address the company’s need for employee development and lean methods implementation. They deployed Enterprise Minnesota’s GreenLean® Principles to help Smith implement lean methods and reduce environmental wastes, and they also helped the company implement Job Instruction, a Training Within Industry (TWI) component, to help the new employees and supervisors grow in their new roles.

Tim and Sam assessed Smith’s existing operations looking for time, motion, material, and energy wastes. They helped Smith create a plan to drive the business towards its “desired future state.”  Using the value stream mapping (VSM) process and some Kaizen events, Tim and Sam identified opportunities to reduce utility usage, better utilize existing resources, eliminate waste, and verify their results. To sustain the success of the program, Smith adopted and documented best practices and appointed “GreenLean Champions” to oversee effective ongoing implementation of GreenLean initiatives.

As a result of its work with Enterprise Minnesota, Smith Foundry realized reduced labor, material, inventory, and energy costs.  And they lowered greenhouse gas emissions  and decreased environmental impact from runoff.  Safety improved due to reduced forklift traffic and improved flow of product through the plant.  Smith yielded an annual cost savings of $257,000, invested $154,000 in plant and equipment, and retained over $3.7 million in sales revenue. 


“Smith Foundry experienced very positive results while working with Enterprise Minnesota on several GreenLean projects.  Smith realized significant cost savings and reduced environmental impact simultaneously.  We highly recommend Enterprise Minnesota to any business that is interested in increasing profitability while also being a good steward to the environment.”

Neil Ahlstrom – President
Smith Foundry Company
Minneapolis, MN