Harvey Building Products
Capital improvements, value engineering and enhanced training programs are keeping quality at the forefront at Harvey Building Products. By Staci Davidson
Harvey Building Products takes great pride in the quality of its windows and doors, all of which are built in the United States at its state-of-the-art facilities. Dedicated to providing residential and commercial clients with peace of mind, each Harvey product is built to withstand tough winters and blazing hot summers, keeping homes and businesses comfortable, secure and energy efficient throughout the year. This level of quality is something Harvey continually invests in, and the company has enhanced its operations in a number of ways recently to ensure its reliable products meet customers’ high standards.
“We at Harvey Building Products are honored to have a reputation for best-in-class quality but know we can never rest on that as our customers demand more, and consequently, must always be raising our quality game on all fronts,” CEO Nick C. Longman says.
To start, Harvey’s improvements involved investing more than $5 million in its own operation, with a focus on safety and efficiency throughout the business. This included adding enclosed saws, fans, lighting, ergonomic lifts, best-in-class cutting and welding technology, a single-piece-flow door line and glass optimization software, as well as implementing shipping protection measures. Senior Vice President of Operations Bryan Hitz explains ongoing improvements like this are important to Harvey.
“I joined Harvey in 2018, and one of things I noticed was that the business was under-capitalized,” Hitz says. “A few of the other leaders and I had come from different industrial environments, and we saw how Harvey could make improvements to improve the workplace with lean measures and better automation. This $5 million was primarily targeted at Harvey, but we expect to invest another $10 million this year at our acquired companies.”
While Harvey was implementing its capital improvements, the company also designed and built the Lean Harvey Business System (HBS). In addition to enhancing the business with lean methodologies, the new business system involved a training program and window school for new employees. Hitz notes so far, the lean system has improved productivity by more than 10 percent and turnover by more than 25 percent; Harvey now also has a growing team of lean experts. Additionally, the enhanced system has reduced safety incident rates by 50 percent, he says.
“I saw the company as a greenfield opportunity to apply lean, so I assembled a staff that is very professional from benchmark academy-type industrials,” Hitz explains. “We started this in 2018, and the first year was covering the basics of lean. Now we are focused on empowering the folks on the shop floor and expanding lean processes into the office. It’s allowing us to advance in the depth and complexity of techniques we use for overall improvement.”
Harvey’s improvements did not stop with capital investments and lean implementation, however. Showing high levels of quality are always a priority, the company also value-engineered all of its major product lines to reduce weight while also improving structural integrity. It soon plans to launch a common chassis, which will provide greater throughput and reduced lead times, while improving window performance. Not only will this enhance the structure of its windows, but it will improve their air infiltration and water ratings.
“We started with simple value engineering,” Hitz says. “We created lighter windows for the installers but they were structurally better for the end users. Now we are creating a common chassis across our business units but with late-stage differentiation so customers have different options for value.
“We are very focused on vinyl, but now also addressing glass package options,” he adds. “It helps with the simplicity of the glass supply chain while providing even better performance for the end user.”
To ensure Harvey didn’t leave its supply chain out of its improvements, the company locked up long-term, win-win contracts with its best partners. Hitz explains this helps to guarantee best-in-class delivery and lead times to customers. “As we grew through acquisitions, we were able to pool our spend and provide more volume to our best suppliers,” he says. “This helps with our forecasting and customers know our service levels will be intact for years to come. For our major commodities, this really created business partner relationships. We are very important to our suppliers, and they are very important to us.”
In the past few years, after Harvey itself was purchased, the company committed to an accelerated path of growth, which involved several acquisitions. In 2016, the company acquired Soft-Lite Windows, a vinyl replacement window manufacturer from Ohio; and in early 2018, it acquired Thermo-Tech Windows and Doors of Minnesota, a producer of vinyl new construction and replacement windows and sliding patio doors. Later in 2018, Harvey also acquired Northeast Building Products (NBP). Based in Philadelphia, NBP produces a complete line of vinyl windows, patio doors and entry doors.
“Our strategy has and will be to continue to add window and door companies that provide a sustainable competitive advantage to a focused customer group,” Longman says. “Where we are most excited is the ability to leverage our Harvey Business System (HBS) and drive continuous improvement throughout these business to provide better outcomes for the customers of these companies as well as our shareholders.”
With these companies a part of the Harvey family, Hitz explains Harvey is spreading its lean playbook to these operations. The company also is honing its lean integration model so it can easily scale it for future acquisitions. At the same time, Harvey recruited a best-in-class operations staff and is enhancing its internship and management-in-training programs to help it attract and retain quality future talent across the entire operation.
“The labor market is a challenging environment across the country, and we are able to produce the same or more volume with fewer total people, but we still are focused on having a strong employee base,” Hitz says. “We created a meritocracy so our people are getting paid more because they are paid for their skills. Additionally, turnover is down and safety has improved. Providing a competitive and inviting workplace is equally as important as wages.
“Our next step is to create Harvey University for shop floor employees and front-line leaders,” he adds. “We plan to do more formal training on lean and provide more and better job opportunities. We will start that system at Harvey, optimize and then recreate at our other business units.”
With these programs in place and growing, Harvey has done more promoting from within. Hitz likes being able to create better career opportunities for his team members, and he sees the key leadership group strengthening. Harvey University will further develop the company’s internal skills, and it’s using internship programs to hire students from local universities. Last year, Harvey was able to hire people from different New Hampshire universities, and now it is expanding this program to its facility in Ohio.
“We will continue to improve,” Hitz notes. “We will take the playbook we used at Harvey and run the same plays at our acquired companies and future acquisitions. We are looking for window manufacturers that have significant synergies for us in terms of supply chain. With acquisitions, there is an opportunity to apply the HBS lean system, merge product lines and expand our value engineering strengths.
“What I am really proud of is the talent we’ve brought in for operational leadership,” he continues. “There is quality at the staff level and the next level, and we are advancing empowerment and training at the shop floor levels to further improve quality.”
“Like any company we will have our struggles but we are building something special at HBP: People + Process + Plan equals Performance,” Longman says. “The future is very bright for HBP as we leverage this not only for our current companies but future acquisitions as well.”