Case Study: Maine Woodworks

Help with Facility Design for Production Growth and Efficiency

Maine Woodworks creates cottage-style furniture that is bench crafted and built to order in Saco, Maine. They use regionally sourced, sustainably harvested hardwood, environmentally friendly finishes, and a combination of time-tested and modern day joinery. They also partner with a social enterprise: Creative Works, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports individuals with disabilities. Maine Woodworks employs an integrated workforce made up of people both with and without disabilities.

maine woodworks

Maine MEP’s project manager Wayne Messer had previously worked with Maine Woodworks CFO Jay Flaker and Matt Hickey, COO, on a lean project. When Maine Woodworks leadership wanted to improve their facility design to allow for production growth, Flaker and Hickey called on Wayne again.

Working with teams from both Creative Works and Maine Woodworks, Maine MEP led the group in a thorough 5S review of the facility, which resulted in reducing waste and freeing up 30% more usable small business manufacturing space. The team also broke down their product offerings into product families and developed ideal lean flows for each component of each family. The team then created optimum layouts using spaghetti diagrams to look at material and worker flow to create an ideal layout. This layout incorporated point-of-use storage and minimal product handling in a clean, organized work environment. 

By actively engaging in the process with Maine MEP, the Maine Woodworks team developed a better understanding of lean concepts and have come up with many ideas of their own. They’ve achieved measurable increases in production and created two new jobs, all while eliminating excess inventory and improving overall efficiency. 

Hickey says, “Thanks to Wayne Messer and Maine MEP, Maine Woodworks is prepared for significant growth in the future. Drawing on Wayne’s expertise and leadership, we’ve completely redesigned our production floor layout, improved our first pass yield and are now experiencing a record year, on pace for more than 1.3 million in shipped sales. In addition, Maine Woodworks has made significant upgrades to our equipment and facilities. Maine MEP was key in helping make difficult decisions that prioritized increased production capacity and a return on our investment. 

“Maine MEP has also been instrumental in helping Maine Woodworks create a lean culture. Maine Woodworks has learned to empower our employees through staff development and training, and now our staff is engaged and consistently seeking out new processes that improve efficiencies. Maine Woodworks is grateful for the continued support of MEP. The growth we anticipate will strengthen our mission of empowering people with disabilities to live, work, and contribute to their communities.”