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    Almost every Friday has had a Fieldtrip, a Guest Speaker or a Workshop. Fridays are fun.

    It was a cold November Friday morning, short trip to nearby town Rantoul. But not short of fun and enthusiasm. The brief overview session about JELD-WEN by senior managers gave us an idea about their History, Corporate, Product line, Operations and everyday Challenges.

    After the information session we moved on to see the engineering section. It was a surprise to see the production capability. It seemed the cold wind outside has oozed through their doors to keep them cold. Sales have braked down due to slowdown in building construction activities in winter. The overview session clarified the fluctuations in product demand for different seasons. Less than a third of the plant was functional. This seasonal challenge was weathered by periodic temporary layoffs in JELD-WEN. They had retained their versatile staffs’ who works end-to-end across all divisions the products pass through. This was definitely off the Textbooks, Classrooms and Case studies.

    That wasn’t all for the “surprise”. We were curious to see the production activities being performed, the way they handled the goods in production line, Quality Control and Testing of raw material and finished goods. As my colleagues on the program hail from diverse industries and experience levels, so contrasting was their questions and level of curiosity. JELD-WEN not only produces windows and doors which are off the rack (OTR) products for home improvement vendors like Menards and HomeDepot, also they produce customized products with design signed off by the customer. They produce the custom product and OTR products in the same line. Once custom design is signed off, the custom product takes the same time to build as OTR products in JELD-WEN. Both the kind of products equally contributing to sales, same turnaround time for vendors and customers and the costs involved in maintaining multiple production lines had led JELD-WEN to this approach which to us was a revelation.

    The visit to JELD-WEN was educative as it gave a sense of challenges out there waiting for us to cope with. JELD-WEN with their custom and off the rack products, massive fluctuations in demands, supply to vast customer base and global expansions appeared to be a perfect pack of challenge for an ambitious management graduate.

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