How Binoculars Helped Tulkoff Foods Become Leaner

One of the key elements on my American Lean Weekday podcast is the weekly interviews that I conduct with companies on their Lean Journey.  These companies are from various industries and are all different sizes.  I have interviewed leaders from family-owned businesses to multi-national organizations.  This week I interviewed Tulkoff Foods.


Tulkoff Foods is headquartered in Baltimore Maryland.  They employ roughly 100 employees in their world-class co-packing food operation.

These are some key points taken from my interview with the President of Tulkoff Foods, Phil Tulkoff.

Started in the 1920’a Phil is part of the third generation leading Tulkoff.  Phil has been with Tulkoff for fifteen years.

  1. “When I got here, I started asking questions.  We learned that we were shorting customers on their orders.  If we never started measuring, we would not have known that.”
  2. “There was a lot of low hanging fruit that we focused on. It was important that we train everyone in the company on Lean concepts.  That way they can speak the same language.”
  3. “People on the floor were very receptive.  One of our more tough groups understood and implemented 5S right away.  It made sense to them and they did it without their manager telling them to do so.”
  4. “Networking with other local companies helped us realize we should pull order on the off shifts. At first, they didn’t like working those shifts, now they love it.”
  5. “We used to write order information with a sharpie on a pallet. That pallet might be 40 feet in the air.  One of our forklift drivers had a pair of binoculars so he could read the information.  We fixed that right away.  We printed large print from a computer on the floor so you didn’t need binoculars to read the order information.”
  6. “Train everyone in the company on Lean topics so they can speak the same language.”

As always, it is an honor to serve you and I hope that you and your company are getting better every day!

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