Success Story: Birchwood Lumber and Veneer

Birchwood Lumber and Veneer


Location: Birchwood, WI
Years in Business: 102
No. of Employees: 200

Products: Architectural doorskins, high quality hardwood panels for a variety of residential and commercial applications, including cut-to-size panels and lumber core

NWMOC Projects: Value Stream Mapping


Early in 2004, Birchwood Lumber and Veneer decided to request the Northwest Wisconsin Manufacturing Outreach Center (NWMOC) to assist it with a Value Stream Mapping project.  The company was enjoying expanding markets for its products; however, domestic and international competitors were aggressively pursuing these markets.  Management decided that the company could effectively compete on quality, speed to market, and meeting its customers' needs.  However, it needed to increase flexibility and reduce lead time.  Also, many of its customers were using Value Stream Mapping.


Two NWMOC project managers facilitated a Value Stream Mapping Event in which manufacturing supervisors and management developed a current Value Stream Map (VSM) that identified material and information flow for manufacturing and purchasing processes.  Next, this team applied Lean principles to create a future state map that significantly reduced nonvalue adding activities, inventory, and order time.  As a result, cycle and lead time were significantly reduced.  After the Value Stream Mapping Event, the NWMOC project managers visited the plant periodically to encourage the team to continue its work and to assist them in applying the VSM findings.


  • Sales increased more than 40%
  • Lead time was reduced by more than 50%
  • Inventory costs were significantly reduced
  • Productivity increased significantly
  • Equipment costs reduced
  • Flexibility increased
  • Value Stream Mapping is used to make additional improvements in the plant and to design a new facility layout in a neighboring city

Birchwood Lumber and Veneer

Value Stream Mapping helped us prioritize and give our supervisors ownership in their value stream. We use a color coding system to alert them to order deadlines.

~ Birchwood Lumber and Veneer