Blog: Karim Motawi

Co-founder and vice president of Motawi Tileworks, Karim Motawi is half of a brother-sister team that turned their custom tile garage startup into a $2 million business.   An entrepeneur and innovator, Karim explains how new ideas can bring small start ups big help.

Post No. 2

Lean Manufacturing for the little guy

Our art tile company had grown strongly for 7 years, but a faltering economy and 9/11 caused a slowdown for us. The sins that had been disguised by very rapid growth appeared and we knew we needed to do something or our company would fail. The 'something' we found was lean manufacturing. In it's simplest terms, lean manufacturing is the  practice of constantly improving the processes one uses to manufacture a product. If one focuses on improving the processes used to make a product you will develop a great process. A 'side effect' of this great process will be a great product.  

I know it sounds strange, but I'm here to tell you it can work, even for a small art-driven company like ours. One of the cornerstones of the lean manufacturing process is the identification and reduction of the "Seven Wastes."  Once you learn to identify them and counter them you are on your way to cleaning up your processes.

The Seven Wastes:

  • Unnecessary transport of materials
  • Inventories
  • Motions of employees
  • Waiting for the next process step
  • Overproduction ahead of demand
  • Overprocessing of parts
  • Producing Defective parts

As we've leaned about theses systems at Motawi, we have come to believe that lean manufacturing principles can be applied to a company of any size, even to a one man shop. While the people who have done the most work on this subject have worked within large companies, I am convinced that the ideals of lean manufacturing can bring equally positive results for small companies. For us it has meant lower inventories, lower defect rates, lower lead times and higher profits.  What more could you ask for? For more information on Lean Manufacturing, just Google it and you will find years worth of reading.