Lean Problem Solvers - November 2014

Lean Problem Solvers - November 2014
Dec 05, 2014

James Esler and Richard Mazur

Quick, how many engineers does it take to fix a broken saw? At Western Window Systems, the answer is two: engineering manager James Esler and associate engineer Richard Mazur. Their efforts saved the company thousands of dollars, weeks of downtime, and untold amounts of customer dissatisfaction. But the best part may be that they did it without ever being asked.

“The saw broke down on a Thursday and we were told it would be three weeks before we could get the parts from our vendor,” says vice president of design and supply chain Cameron Wyatt. “James and Richard wouldn’t accept that, so they came up with a plan to make the parts themselves. That’s when things got super nerdy.”

Wyatt says Esler and Mazur studied the saw, took measurements of the broken parts, and did a ton of research on the Internet. Then, they purchased the raw materials, made CAD drawings, and had a local machine shop in Phoenix manufacture the parts.”

Three days later, the saw was up, running, and cutting better than ever. And thanks to maintenance manager Arlee Nagle putting the saw back together quickly and metal manager Tom Foster coming in with a crew on Saturday, production was back on track.

“This was pure mechanical engineering – precision ground tolerance stuff. It can’t be close. It has to be perfect,” says Wyatt. “Saw repair isn’t part of their jobs, but it was clear when James and Richard took it on, our saw was going to get fixed in one way or another.”

Congratulations to James Esler and Richard Mazur, Western Window Systems’ lean problem solvers for November.

Learn more about James Esler and Richard Mazur by reading their Q&As below:


James Esler

Where did you grow up?
Indianapolis, Indiana.

Do you have any pets?
Yes, two mutts named Sammy and Murray and a boa named Rosy.

Do you play any sports?
Surprisingly, I used to play basketball. (James is 6’ 9”)

What is your favorite hobby?
I play guitar and a handful of other instruments.

Who do you look up to/admire?
Elon Musk (founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX), he’s an engineer that started a car company and a space program.

What is your favorite quote?
"Everyone is born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." -- Benjamin Franklin

Where do you like to vacation?
Any world city that I have not already been.

What is your favorite sport and/or team?
Football/Indianapolis Colts, or anything Purdue Boilermakers.

What’s your favorite food?
Beer.

What’s your favorite movie?
Primer.

What’s your favorite thing about working at Western?
The people and atmosphere make Western a great place to be every day.

Richard Mazur

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Chicago and raised in Phoenix.

Do you play any sports?
I love road racing cars, motorcycles, and karts. I also like football, volleyball, and hockey.

What is your favorite hobby?
Designing and fabricating custom parts for my “toys.”

Who do you look up to/admire?
My dad. He came from Poland to the U.S. alone, with less than $50 in his wallet, and unable to speak English. He went on to become a successful business owner.

What is your favorite quote?
"I have no idols. I admire work, dedication, and competence." -- Ayrton Senna

Where do you like to vacation?
Hawaii and Europe.

What is your favorite sport and/or team?
I like to watch MotoGP or Enduro mountain bike racing highlights.

What’s your favorite food?
Traditional Polish dishes.

What’s your favorite movie?
The Shawshank Redemption and Interstellar.

What’s your favorite thing about working at Western?
Making fun of Melchor and the Apple nerds.