There’s a guy named Giarrizzo running a chain of body shops in Cleveland who is taking them nationwide and hopes to patent lean manufacturing – he sincerely thinks it was his idea. The way he is applying lean to the body shop business is impressive enough. He is focused on cycle time and optimizing the value added ratio. He has taken all of the employees off of the old piece work system and put them on a fixed salary. He also tossed out the traditional approach of having each guy bring his own tools. Instead, the company has bought and devised all of the special tools it takes to best get the job done. It is making money for him and has driven customer satisfaction way up.
"If you can have that car being touched all day, it is going to get out of the shop quicker," Giarrizzo said, thereby demonstrating that he has mastered lean economics 101. Don’t get me wrong about this. I am very impressed with anyone who succeeds in a lean endeavor, and I believe Mr. Giarrizzo will force the rest of the body shops in the U.S. to get lean or get out, which is good for everybody. Where I scratch my head is when he gets to the point of being so impressed with his system that they decide to patent it.
There is a solid core of lean re-manufacturing wizards at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Georgia who will scratch their heads at this so hard their hair will fall out trying to figure out exactly what the body shop is doing they don’t already do with to C-5’s. In fact, Mr. Giarrizzo has invented, created, and innovated nothing. Lean re-manufacturing has been around for a long time. 90% of what the body shop is doing I presented at the Total Manufacturing Performance Conference way back in 1991 – and about 90% of that I plagiarized from other people who thought it up before I did.
The body shop did not innovate, at least they did not "begin or introduce something new", which is the dictionary definition of innovation. What they did – which is a whole lot more important than innovation – was recognized a significant change, and adapted it to their organization. That is why Mr. Giarrizzo is going to make a lot of money. Most body shop owners will either not recognize the new model at all, or they will conjure up excuses why it won’t work (in spite of Giarrizzo’s success staring them in the face) or they will devise a hundred reasons why they are different and it won’t work for them. And they will eventually go out of business. Any time they spend along the way trying to "begin or introduce something new", instead of adapting lean principles like Giarrizzo did will be time wasted.