The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Operations Q&A: Can Your Facilities Pass the White Glove Test?

It's this author's experience that the cleaner the environment, the more successful the company.

Editor’s Note: Lee Schwartz is principal at the Schwartz Profitability Group. He will be blogging occasionally for MDM on the topic of distribution operations. His blog will be presented in a Q&A format. If you have questions regarding operations for Schwartz, please email him at Learn more about Schwartz at the bottom of this blog.

Question: Can your facilities pass the white glove test?

Answer: I recently took a tour of a Northrup Grumman facility where the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) Global Hawk is built and where the fuselage of the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is assembled. What an experience. Remarkable in many ways. Maybe most eye-opening was the floor. Yes, the floor. It was spotless. Could have eaten off of it.

That experience took me back years, to my corporate days. I was interviewing to become president of a manufacturing company. On my second visit, I was taken on a walk through the plant. Oh my goodness. I had never seen a factory so clean. I knew at that moment that I wanted the position. (By the way, I got it.)

Now let us fast forward to another experience. I walked into a manufacturing shop and was astounded. Sawdust covered the floor. Packaging material was strewn everywhere. The place was an eye-sore. No doubt that this company wouldn't pass the white glove test.

Bottom Line: Cleanliness and order create an impression of success, while mess and chaos raise doubts, such as:What is the message conveyed by a messy environment? How prideful are the managers and workers of their work? What is the quality of service provided or the product produced? What does the facility say about the morale of the organization?

It has been my experience that the cleaner the environment, the more successful the company. How clean are your surroundings? Will it pass the white glove test?

Lee Schwartz, former CEO and president of distribution and manufacturing companies, is principal of the Schwartz Profitability Group (SPG) that, for almost 13 years, has uncorked the operational bottlenecks of distribution and manufacturing companies, boosting their bottom line results. His consulting and operational turnaround work helps clients find solutions related to process improvement, supply chain management, inventory control, workflow design, and operational performance.

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