Jones Shirts & Signs saved $20,000 per year by implementing lean principles




Jones Shirts & Signs is a family-owned and operated company, located in Ogden, Utah, which employs eight people, and has been in business for 17 years. They offer embroidery, signs, stickers, screen printing, transfers, promotional items, gifts, and banners. You can find their work in small and large companies, and in local sports teams and organizations throughout Utah. They strive to create the best products at competitive prices and provide personal, hands-on assistance to each customer.

Project scope: Jones Shirts & Signs wanted to improve product process and flow, work and customer order standardization, and overall operational efficiency.

Solution: Theresa Drulard, Director of the University of Utah Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center (UUMEP), met with Jones Shirts & Signs to identify company needs and methods most critical to achieving their goals. The UUMEP Center engaged one of its partners, Brent Huffaker from BCH Group, to implement a lean continuous improvement project, lead the staff training and value stream mapping, and create the visual indicators for improved product and work flow and overall operational efficiency.

University of Utah MEP Center
Project before photos
University of Utah MEP Center
Project after photos

Results: With the help of the UUMEP Center and its partner BCH Group, Jones Shirts & Signs was able to:

  • Save $20,000 annually by improving employee organizational efficiency.
  • Develop standard work instructions, which led to a 1200% increase in standardized work, and which reduced employee inefficiency by over 104 hours.
  • Identify over 35 ideas and implement 16 to increase sales and cash flow.
  • Implement a new layout and visual indicators for the product development process, which increased employee efficiency by 36%.
  • Eliminate five safety issues.
  • Train 100% of their staff in Lean Six Sigma principles.
  • Prevent future errors from occurring in the customer order process.

Impact: Jones Shirts & Signs now benefits from:

  • Created cost savings.
  • Streamlined production and work flow process to increase and retain sales.
  • Improved operational efficiency and organization.
  • Robust employee work standards.

Client testimonial

“Having my team and Brent from BCH Group work creatively together to resolve the requests of our customers, and to come up with solutions to save time and cost was very productive and informative. Together, we were able to implement some new operational guidelines, organize our work flow, brainstorm ideas to cut costs, and get our staff on the same page. Each person was able to input their ideas and issues to troubleshoot, and then make the best decision for the group as a whole. I would definitely do it again!”

— Jenice Jones, Owner

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OTW Safety improved company strategy & strengthened their supply chain

Company profile

OTW Safety is a company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, that manufactures plastic barricades and safety equipment for use in multiple industries, including protecting roadway construction crews, warning pilots of airfield hazards, security barriers, crowd control, and delineating spaces at public events. They have been in business since 1989 and employ seven people. You can find OTW barriers at major airports, including SLC, ATL, BOS, SAN, LAX, and at sports stadiums of the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and Detroit Red Wings among others. OTW Safety prides themselves in manufacturing barriers in the USA, working with their customers to understand their needs, and providing tailored solutions.


Project scope

OTW Safety was looking for best-practices to apply to their supply chain management, so they could spend more time focusing on strategic business growth.


Theresa Drulard, Director of the University of Utah Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center (UUMEP), met with OTW Safety management to identify the supply chain methods most critical to achieving their business goals. Being an experienced business coach, Theresa provided the most appropriate tools for their leadership to support setting and implementing a company vision.


As a result of UUMEP’s assistance, OTW Safety has:

  • Developed a robust company strategy and vision.
  • Implemented improved supplier agreements to protect their interests, and strengthened their supply chain.


OTW Safety now benefits from:

  • A clear business plan and vision on how to grow revenues.
  • Streamlined interactions with the supply-chain, including improved quality assurance and accountability.

Client testimonial

Eric Stevens, VP of Operations
Eric Stevens, VP of Operations

“Teaming with Theresa Drulard and the entire team at the UUMEP Center has been a phenomenal experience. Despite our company being well established, we recognized the need to get an outside, independent, organization to help evaluate goals and modernize our processes. The UUMEP staff carefully listened to what we were trying to achieve and captured the overarching themes. Instead of the boilerplate checklists one might find with other consulting groups, they took the time to fully comprehend the nuances of our company. Collectively, we identified the need to further evaluate our key offerings and reinforce foundational tenets, thus expanding our competitive advantage.

By leveraging best practices, their cumulative decades of industry experience, and their expansive resource network, the UUMEP team significantly improved our operational and strategic initiatives, and helped to validate our key areas of focus. Furthermore, they offered critical feedback and tailored solutions to help a small company like ours navigate the potential pitfalls associated with larger manufacturing partners, supply chain challenges, and future manufacturing integration.

Connecting with the UUMEP Center has provided a valuable and qualified third-party viewpoint that has given us confidence in our current vision and direction. We strongly feel that the impact on our company will continue in a positive direction as we move into more tactical initiatives. In the long term, we see the result of this partnership being one of critical advantage to our small business and the spring board to fast-tracking our expansion and efficiency goals. “

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Meet one of our partners, University of Utah Professional Education

By Denis Peterson

The University of Utah Professional Education (PROED) is thrilled to partner with the University of Utah Manufacturing Extension Partnership (UUMEP) Center to provide exceptional training for Utah manufacturing companies. Our goal is to build manufacturing professionals, and we do this using our EDGE process, where we Examine client needs, Deliver powerful training and consulting, Guide teams and personnel through implementation, and Empower teams to sustain positive changes. Together with the UUMEP Center, we have over 140 trainers and consultants who can apply their skills towards helping you improve your abilities in the following areas:

  • Lean Manufacturing
  • Leadership and Management
  • Project Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Maintenance
  • Quality
  • Safety

We are both dedicated to helping you and your manufacturing company grow. Contact UUMEP with your workforce training needs and questions today!


Denis has worked as an Army officer, contractor, entrepreneur, and educator for the past 23 years.  He has provided consulting and training services in many different industries throughout the world.  He is currently serving as Director of the Professional Education Department at the University of Utah.  Follow PROED on Twitter or Facebook.

University of Utah Professional Education


Six things I wish I’d known at the start of my lean journey

By Brittany Garza

Before moving into my current role, I had no idea what lean was. Lean meant being thin. A green belt and a black belt were visual representations of your skill level in the martial art of Karate. Six Sigma was possibly a fraternity? I knew nothing about the world of lean before jumping in, but I’ve learned a lot these past four years and have loved it. Below are some of the things I wish I’d have known when I started:

  1. Changing culture is hard and takes time. There are moments when you are going to feel like you haven’t made a difference, and you don’t know what to do next. Find support. Go to conferences. Find a mentor. Inside or outside of your company, finding support will help you get through those down times. The lean community is full of people who are very willing to share and teach what they have learned.
  2. Customize the tools to fit your company. Not every lean tool will be applicable to your company. Find the tools that fit, and systematically make them part of your company’s culture. As I’ve toured many companies, I’ve learned that no two tools are exactly alike. What works for one company, may not work for another, but the principles are the same. Learn from others, and adapt the tools to fit your needs.   
  3. Don’t try to learn everything all at once. One of the first things I did after starting as the lean specialist, was to try to train everyone in the company on the list of lean tools and principles we had determined we needed in our organization. In the end, it was too much to train on and too much to learn all at once. Learn and train others as you take the incremental steps to improve your understanding.     
  4. The best way to learn is to try. You can watch webinars, read books, attend training, but there is no substitute for experimenting and trying things out yourself. Holding events was scary at first, but now it’s one of the best parts of my job. I love learning about and facilitating improvement on all the processes that make my company operate, and getting to know all the people who help my company be successful. When I use the tools in an event or within my own work processes, I am able to draw from my experiences and increased understanding to use when training others.
  5. It’s OK to make mistakes. There is a saying one of the lean leaders use, and I use it, especially when I am second-guessing the results of an event: “An improvement is an improvement.”  We learn through making mistakes. Every event I hold, every training I give, and every time I deploy a new tool in the company, I learn something new.  It’s not about getting it right every time. It’s about trying new things, learning, and improving. 
  6. Don’t give up! It won’t always be easy to get upper management, middle management, and front-line employees on board. John Maxwell says, “The only guarantee for failure is to stop trying.” Lean is a constant journey in continuous improvement. Don’t give up! 

Mostly what I’ve learned is that change is hard, it takes time to learn, and you’ll make mistakes along the way, but in the end the results are worth it; not only for your organization, but for yourself.

Useful tools and information:
Lean Enterprise Institute
The Karen Martin Group
Lean Pop-Up SLC

Brittany Garza is a Professional Engineer and Lean Specialist with WesTech Engineering Inc.  Her passion for continuous improvement, problem solving, and connecting with others drove her to start the Salt Lake City Lean Pop Up group.  Brittany hopes to create a local Lean community that can connect others no matter where they are at on their Lean journey.


Senator Hatch’s statement on signing of new MEP partnership












Posted on December 6, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC–Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the senior Republican in the United States Senate, issued the following statement following the announcement of the University of Utah’s new contract with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership:

“After years of concerted effort working alongside the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the University of Utah, I’m thrilled with today’s announcement. Utah’s MEP program will help grow Utah businesses by expanding customer bases, developing new markets, and creating new products while also helping our nation maintain a competitive edge in the global marketplace.  This federal investment is a prime example of how local solutions are the principal drivers of economic development.”

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Utah’s Manufacturing: Sharing successes & growth

Manf Blog

Published in Manufacturing Innovation Blog on January 9, 2017, by Tab Wilkins

Recently I accompanied our Director Carroll Thomas to the University of Utah Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s (UUMEP) open house announcing a new MEP center in Salt Lake City. After the open house we joined two roundtables, which validated how significant manufacturing is in Utah and how they successfully compete on a global scale.

Utah is recognized as a business friendly state by Forbes Magazine and CNBC, has a current unemployment rate of just over 3%, and a very strong and active Governor’s Office of Economic Development. The event drew close to 40 people from around the state and celebrated the thriving manufacturing community.

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University of Utah engineers kick off new center to help manufacturers prosper

Published in Utah Business on December 6, 2016

More than 125,000 Utahns work for manufacturers in the state, and their mission is to keep working even if the economy takes a hit. But they can only do so if manufacturing companies here stay productive and find efficient ways to operate.

That’s where the University of Utah’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Center comes in.

Started by two mechanical engineering professors from the U’s College of Engineering, the new MEP Center is designed to deliver services to small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies by providing expertise in technology, worker education, and on how to make connections with investors. The Utah center is part of a national MEP network that assists America’s smaller manufacturers. Managed by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the network consists of MEP centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.


Carroll A. Thomas, director of NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, helped kick off Utah’s center during an open house Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the Rio Tinto Mechanical Engineering Building on the University of Utah campus.

“I am thrilled about our new partnership with the University of Utah. This new center will help Utah’s small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies compete on a global scale through services related to growth, operational excellence, or new technologies like digital, nano and additive manufacturing,” said Thomas. “A major challenge and opportunity ahead of manufacturers today is positioning for ‘Manufacturing 4.0’ where the pace of change and technology solutions moves with astounding speed. The Utah center is uniquely poised to guide manufacturers through this change and deliver results with economic impact.”

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New partnership with U. aims to crank up Utah’s manufacturing sector

Published in The Salt Lake Tribune on December 6, 2016

No longer “dark, dirty and dangerous,” Utah manufacturing is a business increasingly driven by knowledge and technology, say those who want to help it grow.

After months of preparation, the University of Utah’s College of Engineering launched a new expertise-sharing center Tuesday to assist the state’s more than 3,000 manufacturing companies boost their productivity and expand jobs.

With 125,000-plus Utahns employed in the sector — 9.1 percent of the state’s workforce — the U.’s new Manufacturing Extension Partnership, or MEP, has dramatic potential for improving the state’s economy, officials said.

“I see a lot of promise in what is happening here,” said Carroll Thomas, director of a national network of state MEPs with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, an arm of the U.S. Commerce Department.

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New manufacturing resource center launched in Utah

Published in the Deseret News on December 6, 2016

The University of Utah, in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, announced Tuesday the establishment of the new Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center on campus.

Founded by two U. engineering professors, the center is designed to deliver services to small- and medium-size manufacturing companies by providing expertise in technology, worker education and how to develop relationships with potential investors.

The local center is part of a national network and collaborative effort to help smaller manufacturers grow their businesses.

“We will not only focus on operational excellence,” said Bart Raeymaekers, co-founder of the center and associate professor of engineering at the U. “For manufacturers to be successful, you really ought to be focusing on innovation and advanced manufacturing technologies.”

The center, in partnership with other entities across the state, helps local businesses use data to identify products and markets that are growing; implement advanced manufacturing equipment and technology; develop and educate a workforce to use new technologies; connect with investors and secure government grants to support growth; and learn how to make operations more efficient to maximize profits, Raeymaekers said.

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