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Layout Improvements Help Great Lakes Growers Provide Fresher Products, Create Business and Jobs

Great Lakes Growers is a premier grower of clean lettuces and herbs. Their Burton, Ohio-based state-of-the-art climate-controlled greenhouse is where they grow produce in water, rather than soil to offer fresh (and therefore better tasting) products year-round to Ohioans.

Farming is rooted deep in Great Lakes Growers owner John Bonner. His grandfather started Burton Floral and Garden, the largest horticultural supply distributor in the Midwest. His father worked there before starting Dillen Products, a container supplier to the plant industry. Bonner’s exposure to running horticulture-based businesses combined with his degree in business administration made him comfortable to eventually sit at the helm of these companies. These experiences also gave him the confidence to start Great Lakes Growers in 2011 where he expanded his progressive approach to produce production and sustainable energy.

Bonner’s efforts took off quickly – so much that a few years back and a few years after starting the company – he had to start considering the future needs of Great Lakes Growers. While the current layout served its purpose, it also could be improved to encourage growth potential. So in 2021, Bonner called on MAGNET’s Lean Operations experts.                    

Our team assessed the current space with a mapping tool to understand current inefficiencies. Issues exposed included:

  • Setup was allowing for only 13 to 15 seconds of work every two minutes
  • Laborers were not being fully utilized during specific tasks
  • Workstations did not accommodate as many operators as possible
  • Needless movement and disorganization of boxes accounted for 80% of staging costs
  • Products were spoiling from packaging issues
  • Operators did not have quick access to necessary supplies

Once issues were identified, MAGNET developed an improved layout to maximize Great Lakes’ harvesting process. Bonner learned the roots of inefficiencies, delays and waste, and MAGNET offered solutions. Great Lakes Growers could ultimately waste less, save time and improve its bottom line, while customers received faster, fresher produce. Further, the recommendations, which were implemented in 2022, have helped create new business and jobs in Northeast Ohio.

Measurable results offered an overall boost to Great Lakes Growers’ business, including:

  • Cost Savings: $30,000/year
  • Labor Cost Reduction: 12%
  • Labor Savings: $15,000/year

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