If you have ever taken a drive, a walk, a jog or a guided tour through the Forest Lawn cemetery you understand the beauty and peacefulness of this jewel of the Buffalo cityscape. What you probably don’t know is the work and planning that goes into maintaining this setting and the efforts for providing the highest level of service for all visitors.
In 2014/2015 Forest Lawn contracted with Insyte to improve operations and ensure a first class experience for families, loved ones and any type of visitor to the grounds. In order to achieve this, an effort toward creating a continuous improvement culture was implemented. The results were an improvement in processes, a reduction in costs and a more consistent approach to all services.
Innovative is not the typical adjective one associates with a cemetery, but the efforts and ideas for improvement were deserving of that description. It may seem surprising that lean manufacturing tools were used to initiate many of these improvements. Value stream mapping, standardized work, constraint management and error proofing were all used in one form or another to improve the operations that occur within the grounds. Reverence for the permanent residents was always the top priority, but identifying new and innovative ways of providing service is the focus of management in order to consistently be considered the best at what they do. The efforts of the Forest Lawn staff were always enthusiastic and genuine.
So the next time you drive by or visit this incredible location, think for a moment about the highly professional men and women who work diligently to keep it that way and are striving to make it even better.
Phil Celotto helps WNY companies improve their operations through the implementation of lean manufacturing practices and ISO quality management systems. In addition to Insyte, Phil has worked at Hughes Aircraft, Carleton Technologies and SoPark Corporation in the engineering and operations fields. His experience includes positions as Project Engineer, Systems Engineer and Operations Manager. Phil is a certified Lean practitioner from SME/AME, has ISO 9000 and ISO 13485 Provisional Lead Auditor certifications and is an active member of APICS. He holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University at Buffalo.