Question: How many occupational hazards can an experienced safety professional find within 30 seconds of walking into a waste/recycling plant?…
Leadpoint’s Workforce Optimization Team, or WFOT, is a trio of highly-experienced recycling experts. They are travelers who are on the road upwards of 300 days each year, working with the company’s customers and managers to address issues, tackle problems first-hand, and recommend solutions that improve productivity, efficiency and profitability.
We recently sat down with Albert, Isaac and Chad for a casual discussion about their role and what they deliver to Leadpoint’s MRF customers across the country.
Isaac: We are on site with new customer start-ups and as-needed with existing sites. Great WFOT members listen, communicate well, take criticism and have the ability to see the MRF as a whole through the customer’s eyes.
Albert: We’re partners, not providers. It’s all about understanding the operation of the industry. We can provide outside perspective and understanding that will help our customers succeed. We can have a site that’s under-performing and make it successful through our ability to change operations in a way that gets the customer new revenue or meets their revenue goals.
Isaac: Right. We troubleshoot, train and can be the ‘voice of reason’ for the entire manufacturing process.
Chad: The market today is terrible and profit margins are way down. We can help find ways to reduce MRF operating costs by increasing efficiency. For example, we’ve helped standardize work for the line leads and installed GEMBA boards where we track performance on each site’s KPIs.
Albert: Nobody calls us because everything is going great. A big challenge of the job is that the customers are new to us. We don’t know who they are and what they like. They’re looking at us to fix problems so we’re behind the 8 ball right away.
Chad: The biggest thing I focus on when I go into a facility is the relationship with our customers and managers. That’s the priority. Whenever I meet a new customer, I try to be a very good listener and learn their hot buttons and what they want to achieve for their site. The team and I work to garner trust and understand the direction our program should focused on.
Albert: I agree. Every customer is different. Our main goal is to gain the customer’s trust. To do that, we need to understand their vision. Don’t deliver a Porsche if the customer wants a Dodge.
Albert: There’s no one model that fits every site. The key is being able to know what the customers expect and then delivering it.
Chad: We help with site start-ups, we fill-in for Leadpoint’s onsite managers when vacancies occur, train new onsite managers, and mentor the team at facilities that are under-performing.
Isaac: Our role is to address the customer’s demands, which aren’t always about staffing. We also get involved with quality control, identifying people’s strengths so we can put them in roles where they can succeed, and even how to adjust screens to improve productivity and quality.
Chad: One thing I bring to the team is experience and certification in lean manufacturing principles. I’m able to talk about steps for improving manufacturing processes and instituting procedures that will improve efficiency.
Albert: We’re all highly experienced and educated on the recycling market.
Chad: Let me add onto that. We can talk about price, trends and market supply and demand. We can have informed conversations that really help our customers with productivity and profitability.
Isaac: Simply put, our job is to bring out the best in people.
Chad: Keeping employees safe. That’s the biggest bang customers can get from their Leadpoint buck. Our attention to detail is also a differentiator.
Isaac: Customers like our hands-on approach and ability to see, understand and assess every aspect of their facility. We’re versatile, flexible, responsive.
Albert: The access I have to all of our facilities is a tremendous benefit. The WFOT has been to more than a dozen sites while the customers only know their own site; they don’t travel like we do. We can pull from that experience to make recommendations and provide solutions based on what we’ve learned at other locations. We’re like consultants that way.
Isaac: Same here. I get to see how different MRFs work. I can take the knowledge from one MRF and apply it at other site to improve their operations.
Albert Pena: Albert started at Leadpoint as a sorter in 2012. Persistence and drive fueled his rise from sorter to line lead, shift manager to on-site manager, and finally a move to the Workforce Optimization Team in 2015. He was named Team Manager in 2018.
Isaac Sanders: Isaac started his tenure at Leadpoint as a sorter in 2013. After progressing from sorter to system lead, Isaac was offered a chance to join Leadpoint’s Workforce Optimization Team in 2015. Throughout his career, he has made it a goal to stay focused on training.
Chad Bebber: Chad has more than 15 years in the recycling industry, most of it as general manager with International Paper’s recycling facilities and seven years in textile manufacturing. He brought that production, procurement, sales and lean manufacturing experience to Leadpoint in 2018.