Lawrence Brothers, Inc. (LBI)

Lawrence Brothers, Inc. (LBI) Southwest Virginia Metal Fabricator Explores New Markets Beyond Coal Industry

“Our collaboration with GENEDGE has been integral to the continued growth and process improvement of Lawrence Brothers. Through the various programs offered by GENEDGE, and through the Heart funded projects, we have been able to set our company apart not only as the premiere employer in the area, but also further establish our reputation as a leading-edge manufacturer with the highest quality standards to our customers. Throughout the course of working with Sam Wolford and his team of professionals, we have been able to: finalize our ISO 9001 certification, develop and implement a 5-year strategic growth plan, revitalize our employee handbook, hiring/promotion strategies, and boost employee morale through a more collaborative approach with each key player, become DOD compliant through various obligatory certifications, hire and promote inside our management team to further strengthen our team environment, develop and implement more stringent processes in order to become a Lean manufacturer, among many others. In my honest opinion, the work that GENEDGE is doing in Southwest Virginia is vital to not only the survival, but to the growth of our region. As a small business owner, the impact these programs and grants have had on our business have meant a more sustainable business model that has boosted growth by nearly $1.0M in the first year of implementation of our strategic growth initiatives. Moving forward, we anticipate that impact to compound as we continue to work with GENEDGE and other regional bodies to revitalize Southwest Virginia as a manufacturing hub and help other small to mid-size businesses grow as well.” – Melanie Protti-Lawrence, President, Lawrence Brothers, Inc.

About

Since 1973, Lawrence Brothers, Inc. (LBI) has provided customers with exceptional quality products and outstanding customer service. Their Bluefield, Virginia facility employs about 60 workers maintaining over 80,000 square feet of manufacturing equipment providing an array of fabrication techniques.

The Challenge

For nearly half a century, LBI’s primary customer had been the coal industry producing mine battery trays and other fabrications. With the industry’s downturn, company management sought outside assistance to diversify into new markets to remain competitive. LBI was well into their growth journey for ten years before being introduced to GENEDGE through the Heart Project of the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing (SVAM). SVAM is a non-profit organization focused on supporting and strengthening manufacturers in the region.

GENEDGE began by conducting a CoreValue Software Discover® assessment to analyze their business and identify any value gaps to be addressed. Based on the results of that assessment, GENEDGE offered to continue the process by facilitating a deep dive into the company’s current operational and market capabilities. It was later during an on-site visit that LBI’s management expressed interest in the development of a Quality Management System (QMS). They felt becoming an ISO registered business would provide additional new market opportunities to continue growing their business.

MEP’S Role

Through an approved third-party QMS service provider, GENEDGE’s Sam Wolford would lead the implementation. This effort involved identifying gaps between current QMS practices and necessary components required for compliance, identification of required documentation and methods to capture and maintain required documentation. By way of actively preparing an internal audit, internal personnel would also be trained in the appropriate processes and practices required to prepare them for the ISO 9001:2015 registrar review.

In addition to the QMS implementation, more opportunities were revealed through that initial deep-dive assessment. A proposal for services utilizing the Business Growth Accelerator approach would help LBI realize its goals to establish and execute strategies to improve business growth. Focusing efforts on growing their business through developing ideas and concepts as a part of a growth accelerator process could provide significant value. Potential new and non-traditional market opportunities should be considered an important project component.

A large portion of the associated costs with these projects would be covered through GENEDGE’s Virginia Rural DOD Supply Chain Program and supplemented through the SVAM Center of Excellence’s Heart Project.

Results

Following the successful registration of Lawrence Brothers to the ISO 9001:2015 Standard, the following anticipated impacts are:
$1,250,000 in sales impact
$30,000 in cost savings
$1,375,000 in investments
32 in created or retained jobs