TRC’s Journey to Lean

>The Death of Vocational Education. Insight from Brian Robinson, President & CEO of TRC Staffing Services, Inc.

The term “Lean” can mean many things in business.  Over the years it was frequently used to describe a company or manager who watched their costs – think “Lean and Mean.”  Today, the term “Lean” is mostly associated with Lean Manufacturing, which spawned from Inventory Management and Just-in-Time (JIT) principles.  Lean has proven to be a fantastic principle to manage not only manufacturing companies, but service industries as well.  Today, Lean has become the new rage and each day, more companies are moving to become a lean enterprise.

TRC’s Journey to lean, like many companies, started in the height of the recession in 2009.  With demand for workers falling at a rapid pace, how we did business was starting to change.  We need to do more with less and our offices were being flooded with phone calls and emails of people looking for work. Normally, this is a great thing, but our clients were eliminating jobs – not adding them.  It wasn’t long before our offices were spending more time answering the phones than working on the client orders coming in.

We soon realized we needed to change how we recruited and processed applicants.  We quickly identified the problems our offices were having.  We then created some changes that would alleviate many of the problems and then promptly rolled out our findings to our managers to implement the changes.

Nothing happened.

During the same time period, TRC’s Executive V.P., Tom Bodeep and I enrolled in a week-long Lean Agent class.  We did this because many of our clients were lean practitioners and we wanted to be able to add more value to their organizations.

The class was amazing.  It taught us types of waste, goals and strategy and the discipline for continuous improvement.  It changed the way we looked at our customers and TRC.

But the true “Ah Ha” moment was when I learned about the change management process of Lean, also known as Kaizen.  I realized that we had been trying to roll out our changes at TRC completely wrong: top-down. Kaizen is built on change coming from levels of the organization that are performing the work.  I realized then that we had been going about it all wrong.  I made my mind up that day that we were going to adopt and practice lean principles.

This might sound easy, but it’s not.  It takes a true commitment and an amazing amount of hard work.  Regardless, we moved forward in becoming a lean organization that is committed to continuously improving.

Today, we have spent hundreds of man hours training our organization.  We have sequestered important staff for several days for Kaizen events on several occasions.  More importantly, we have a system that is able to roll out big changes in our processes successfully.

We are only at the beginning of our journey to become a lean organization, but we have seen the results that it can produce, and we are not looking back.  We are committed to Lean and the practice of continuous improvement for our own organization and our clients.


What are your thoughts on Lean?  Does your staffing provider practice these principles?

About Brian Robinson

President & CEO @TRC_Staffing

3 Responses to “TRC’s Journey to Lean”

  1. Great article! I think you definitely hit the nail on the head about most organizations going about it the wrong way.

  2. This was a very insightful article! Good to know!

  3. Thank you katierannou and Cristina! Glad you both enjoyed TRC’s Journey to Lean!

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