Ninkasi was founded in 2006 in a leased space inside of a German restaurant in Springfield, OR, with a 15 barrel brewhouse. Within a year, the business was moved to the current location in the Whiteaker neighborhood of Eugene, which was the first of three past expansions in the company history. These expansions have added brewing and fermentation capacity, a retail tasting room facility, administrative offices, and a local distribution facility. The company’s fourth expansion, completed in 2014, includes the addition of a second brewing and fermentation facility adjacent to the existing one, a new administrative office, and a new local distribution facility. During the course of its development, Ninkasi has endeavored to develop a strong and distinctive culture through both an internal emphasis on core values and extensive community engagement.
Ninkasi, recognizing in 2013 that it was in a period of transition from a start-up pursuing explosive growth to an established company pursuing moderate growth in tandem with operational efficiency, began to engage with OMEP and NW Food Solutions (NWFS). Over the last year OMEP, NWFS and Ninkasi have been developing an operational excellence program to ensure a high standard of productivity and quality that is compatible with its core values.
OMEP and NWFS provided both corporate and production floor content and guidance to Ninkasi including the following focus areas:
- Lean Enterprise teaching, coaching and implementation
- Value Stream Mapping (VSM) analysis resulting in targeted improvement projects including:
- End of month accounting close process
- Warehouse inventory management practices
- Supported the executive leadership team in developing annual operational strategies
- Assisted in the creation of a daily lean management system including visual management boards and root cause analysis training
- Trained in 5S methodologies including developing an internal team of 5S facilitators to support on-going improvements.
Through the use value stream maps and targeted improvements within the end of month close and warehouse processes, the Ninkasi team was able to significantly improve inventory accuracy and reduce MRP system down-time by over 90% each month.
With the introduction of lean management practices, including visual management boards, daily stand-up meetings and an organization-wide focus on root cause analysis, the Ninkasi leadership team has been able to drive continuous improvement activities from the brewery floor all the way to the executive leadership team.
OMEP and NWFS have been incredibly valuable helping us along our journey to build a culture of continuous improvement. Since our partnership began, they’ve coached and guided us on a variety of tools and processes that have significantly improved our business; from developing high level strategies to teaching us how to overcome small obstacles. They have consistently asked the right questions to learn what problems we are trying to solve and provided us with custom solutions aimed at teaching us how to not only make improvements but also empower us to sustain the success within the walls of our culture. We have experienced a number of successes so far, all of which would not have been possible without their insight, knowledge and passion for continuous improvement.