My Mind: Homegrown Systems

What image does your mind conjure up when I tell you a finishing system was homegrown?

What image does your mind conjure up when I tell you a finishing system was homegrown?

What if I were to tell you this homegrown system I saw was in the South?

What if I were to tell you I had to go to Gainesville, GA (we're talking the Deep South here) to see it?

If you're not from the South and your mind works like mine, then you probably have already formed some negative connotation or stereotype. When I think of a homegrown system and the Deep South, my mind begins to picture a rickety old moonshine still tucked in a corner of the barn.

But, if you read this month's feature, "A Homegrown Painting System," you'll find out that's not what homegrown means at all. According to Tommy Lee (no he isn't the drummer for Mötley Crüe, and no he wasn't married to Pamela Anderson), director of maintenance services at Indalex, homegrown means tailored to his plant's needs.

After touring the plant with Mr. Lee and Jeff Rider, finishing manager at Indalex, I came to find out that homegrown means significantly more than tailored. To have a homegrown system requires that you learn more about your process, your customers, your parts and your employees every day.

Then you have to figure out how to apply that knowledge to your system to make it run more efficiently or produce higher quality parts. So, homegrown, a description that, at first blush, invoked images of simplicity, upon further inspection, came to mean customized, highly engineered and unique.

Some of the homegrown quality of Indalex' paint line is due to the ingenuity of the company's employees and their ability to think outside of the box and derive new ways to solve old problems. Unique loading and unloading stations and a control system tied to a database of every order painted at Indalex are just two of the things that make this system homegrown.

But, an equal part of that homegrown quality is due to Indalex' suppliers. They're the ones that have taken the ideas and transformed them into tangible, functioning systems. Ideas such as changing from a conventional filter bank to a single filter bank in the vertical cylindrical spray booths.

If you ask Tommy Lee how to create a homegrown system, he'll tell you it helps to have a supplier that asks "What do you need?" instead of one that tells you "Here's what I've got."