Carris Reels Saves Big After Improvement Efficiencies

Improvement Efficiencies Carris Reels   



“CONNSTEP made efforts to get to know our people, understand our business, and uncover real opportunities. Getting buy-in was huge and pivotal to our success, and because of CONNSTEP’s efforts, the results show”.  – Steve Sabourin, Operations Manager, Carris Reels


With a history spanning back over 100 years, Carris Reels started under a different name as a maker of wooden hat boxes. Adapting to the times when war wasrecycling 1 prevalent, and the need for hat boxes wasn’t as demanding, the company began making coffins. Shortly after, they began making crates then finally in 1938, began manufacturing wooden reels. Carris Reels is a 100% employee owned ESOP with approx. 90 employees working at their Enfield, CT facility which is 120,000 sq. feet and resides on 26 acres of property. Carris Reels prides themselves on their impeccable safety record, with zero recordable injuries to date.


Steve Sabourin, Operations Manager, sensed something was off with his production process. Carris Reels experienced high demand for their small and medium sized reels, and needed to improve efficiencies to take cost out and improve material flow. Being a very busy facility, Steve needed assistance trouble shooting where the bottle necks were taking place. Business Growth Consultant Bill Kirchherr worked with Steve and the Carris Reels team to review their current production processes, including the different work stations and production lines.

cutstock kanbans  Bill also noted the travel time to the lumber storage yard was up to a half mile, which was adding to the time constraints. In addition, the yard itself was not as organized as it could be so there was opportunity surfacing for better organization practices to be implemented.


After analyzing the small and medium reel manufacturing processes and the storage facilities, Bill felt a Kaizen event focusing on introducing the concepts of Pull Kanban, 5S, and Cellular Design would improve productivity. Bill worked with the team on the shop floor to restructure different areas within the facility so there were storage reel yardareas closer to the lines where wooden materials used to make the reels could be easily accessed, eliminating travel time by two thirds. The size of the wood slabs was also limited to only those that were used frequently so storage space was used efficiently.

Relocating the nailing station from the center of the production area, next to a storage supermarket in another area of the facility improved production by an additional 10%, which ultimately raised productivity beyond what Steve had previously seen. “Sometimes you miss things, but Bill was able to spot them and point out what was needed to improve for better results” said Steve. Overall, the entire project reduced work in process, and increased capacity and productivity.


  • Retained Sales $15,000,000
  • Retained Jobs 85
  • Cost Savings $40,000

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