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GA 073 | The Zingerman’s Approach to Lean with Tom Root

By Jessica Bush Updated on July 30th, 2021

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Today’s guest is Tom Root, a Managing Partner of Zingerman’s Mail Order. Tom and I delve into Zingerman’s fascinating background and how the company has used lean to make all kinds of improvements.  Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we are thrilled to be collaborating with Zingerman’s in an upcoming Gemba Live! episode.

An MP3 version of this episode is available for download here.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Tom’s background and how he first learned about lean (2:53)
  • The quote that inspires Tom (5:02)
  • The story behind Zingerman’s (5:03)
  • How the mail order component developed (7:42)
  • How the company adapts staffing-wise to their seasonality (11:17)
  • The hiring process at Zingerman’s (13:51)
  • All about their production leveling system (19:04)
  • What Tom and Zingerman’s are struggling with (25:37)
  • How to learn more about Zingerman’s (30:01)
  • What “Respect for People” means to Tom (31:55)
  • The best advice Tom has ever received (35:54)
  • Tom’s personal productivity habit (36:47)
  • What has surprised Tom in the last year (38:41)
  • What Tom does to recharge and refocus (39:05)
  • The skill Tom feels he needs to improve (40:10)

Podcast Resources

What Do You Think?

What about the Zingerman’s story resonates with you?


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