Frontline Employees Achieve Professional Development and Drive Continuous Improvement though Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Projects

Roy Barron

Continuous Improvement is part of our DNA at ASR Group, and over the past year, a growing number our frontline hourly employees have made it part of theirs, too.

“We’re proud that hourly employees have stepped up to pursue Yellow Belt projects, which help drive continuous improvements using the Lean Six Sigma methodology,” said Corporate Director of Continuous Improvement Chris Duncan. “Yellow Belt projects are excellent opportunities for our employees to advance their skills and knowledge and to take ownership over their professional development. It’s an investment in our people that we’re excited to make.”

Last year, Roy Barron, Packaging Operator at our Chalmette Refinery in Louisiana, became our company’s first hourly employee to become a certified Yellow Belt. Roy’s project, which improved efficiency on a packaging line that packages 50-lb bags of sugar, was inspired by his use of our new, cloud-based production management system, Redzone. His successful project earned him Redzone’s Frontline MVP Award for 2022 in recognition of his effective use of the tool for continuous improvement.

“The award was one of the greatest achievements of my life,” said Roy, who has worked at the Chalmette Refinery for 18 years. “I was just blown away to even get nominated, and I was ecstatic to have that opportunity to manage a project that led to an improvement on the packaging line. It was a great learning experience.”

More employees have followed in Roy’s footsteps this year, including Matthew O’Neill, whose recent Yellow Belt project in Chalmette helped conserve compressed air usage on a 10-lb packaging line. 

“It was an honor to become one of the company’s first certified Yellow Belts,” said Matthew. “The training and project helped equip me with valuable CI tools that I’ll be able to use to drive further improvements in the future.”

Matthew began his career at the Chalmette Refinery in 2008 as a machine attendant on the packaging line. Shortly after earning his Yellow Belt, Matthew took the next step in his career by successfully applying for a production supervisor position.

“Roy and Matthew are great examples of how employees can use their passion and ambition for growth to advance their careers,” said Chalmette Refinery Manager Liz Mendonca. “We’re truly proud of their work and are lucky to have them on our team.”

Packaging Technician Russell Bennett recently became the first hourly Yellow Belt at our Yonkers Refinery in New York through a project that reduced downtime during maintenance on a high-speed industrial bagger line. 

“It means a lot to me that my team had faith in me to lead this project,” said Russell. “I really enjoy what I do, so I found it rewarding to take my work to the next level through this project and to see the results of my work.”

Russell’s colleague in Yonkers, Clarifier Operator Windsley Richards, is currently working toward his Yellow Belt certification, too, through a project to reduce the amount of time our pressure filters are offline.  

“I was honored to be nominated as a quality champion and also greatly appreciate the opportunity to be a candidate for the Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt project so that I can show my vision to improve safety, quality and production output,” said Windsley.

We’re proud of the accomplishments of Roy, Matthew, Russell and Windsley, and as we keep strengthening our culture of Continuous Improvement, we remain committed to investing in our employees’ growth and development.