Susanne McCalla and Richard Knutz: How E-One’s Aligned Leadership Team Inspires Camaraderie and Drives Results

The LeanDNA-List celebrates the hard work of our customers, who day-in and day-out work to optimize inventory, reduce shortages, and empower their companies to operate more efficiently. These winners represent the tenacious, knowledgeable, and hands-on users and champions of LeanDNA. 

Susanne and Richard make a dynamic team. Susanne is always available for her team and ours, and drives accountability throughout the organization. Richard is data-driven, no-nonsense, and will go to bat for anything that will help his team thrive. Both of them are incredibly innovative and passionate about improving the business. With the two of them so aligned and leading the buying organization, they’re unstoppable.”

Nominator Adam Baker, Customer Success Manager, LeanDNA

Richard and Susanne are the self-described Batman and Alfred of E-One’s inventory management operation. Together, their complementary leadership styles foster rapid, data-informed decision-making and complete alignment toward company goals. So far, their partnership has inspired a team culture built on accountability and trust, and led to a 39 percent shortage reduction after just seven months with LeanDNA.

Susanne McCalla oversees materials management for E-One’s REV Group business unit, which manufactures emergency vehicles, rescue trucks, aerial fire trucks, rescue pumpers, and custom fire apparatuses. She’s relentless in her pursuit of the root cause of an inventory challenge, said E-One Supply Chain Director Richard Knutz. “You know the classic ‘Five Why’s’? Susanne asks 30 Why’s.”

Richard, on the other hand, takes a 100-foot view of inventory operations and drives swift decision-making. “We’re a great balance,” said Susanne. “If I go off into the deep end in the search for root causes, he pulls me back up so we get things done.”

Richard and Susanne depend on LeanDNA to keep them and their teams aligned on shared goals, which, at present, are focused on swift shortage reduction. Their investment in LeanDNA both complements and accelerates their progress—so far resulting in 39 percent fewer material shortages in seven months, leaving E-One better-positioned to deliver on time to its customers without penalties or expedite fees.

“LeanDNA puts the pieces together for us so we can finally see it. It gives me a sense of comfort to know that I can go in and see that things are progressing.”

Richard Knutz, Director of Supply Chain

The dynamic duo first recognizes LeanDNA’s role in freeing up their buyers’ time by automating their manual processes, allowing the team to focus on other value-driving efforts. Richard noted, “Pre-LeanDNA, we spent the majority of our time data-mining to even begin to analyze what we needed to do.  There wasn’t much action compared to time spent doing prep work. With the efficiency we get out of LeanDNA, Susanne’s team is able to do more than ever before.”

Susanne—who manages the buying team—says they now spend time on items they wished they had time for before: Things like making sure safety stocks are at the right level, looking at suppliers and where they can bring in other inventory, and viewing on-time delivery rates all at once so they can make the right moves—all actions that have led to their early 39 percent shortage reduction.

Beyond the automated processes, LeanDNA is also paramount in Richard and Susanne’s constant synchronization and united front.

For Richard, LeanDNA provides total visibility and a pulse on inventory operations, empowering a culture of trust and accountability across their inventory operation. “Sometimes you just feel like something’s happening but you can’t put your fingers on it,” he said. “LeanDNA puts the pieces together for us so we can finally see it. It gives me a sense of comfort to know that I can go in and see that things are progressing.”

Susanne uses LeanDNA to anticipate Richard’s needs and make data-driven decisions quickly with her team. “One of the big benefits of LeanDNA for my team is that I already know what Richard’s going to be looking for before we get into meetings with him,” she said.  This ensures her team is aligned to Richard’s goals and vision, and taking the right actions to get there.

Susanne and Richard’s collaborative, communicative relationship has generated camaraderie throughout the E-One team. With passionate and driven leaders—and with LeanDNA in their toolkit to help keep them aligned—the inventory organization at E-One is working together to accomplish their shortage goals and uncover massive company savings.


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