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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 3, 2007

UI, Pella Corp. Partner to Teach Lean Manufacturing To MBA Students

Students in the University of Iowa's Tippie MBA-PM program will spend a week at the headquarters of Iowa-based Pella Corp. for an up-close lesson in Lean manufacturing.

The 30 students attend MBA for Professionals and Managers (MBA-PM) classes in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities and will spend the week of January 8 at Pella's corporate headquarters and manufacturing operations in Pella, Iowa, said Barrett Thomas, assistant professor of management sciences in the Tippie College of Business. There, the students will attend classes, tour the company's manufacturing plant and learn from top Pella executives about the challenges and benefits of the Lean continuous improvement program.

"We're calling it a week-long case study," said Thomas, whose teaching and research specialties include Lean processes. "Pella is one of the leading practitioners of Lean manufacturing in Iowa, and in the window and door industry, too, so our students are excited about this opportunity to learn more about it from the people who have had so much success bringing it to life."

This marks the third time the Tippie MBA-PM program has offered a weeklong Lean seminar at a corporate site. The first two were held at Rockwell Collins' operations in Cedar Rapids, Thomas said.

Lean manufacturing is a system in which companies continuously analyze their operations to trim any unnecessary processes and waste. One of the more well-known and often copied ideas that have come out of a Lean analysis is the just-in-time delivery system that keeps inventories low and reduces warehouse and storage expense. Pioneered by Toyota in the 1950s, Thomas said Lean manufacturing has helped the company become the world's second-largest automaker, and analysts expect it to become the largest automaker later this year.

Recently, Thomas said companies have been applying the Lean concept to their administrative and office operations, as well, a development that makes the Pella classes even more relevant for MBA-PM students.

"Pella has used Lean to become more efficient on their manufacturing floors, but the company is also a leader in taking Lean concepts into office settings as well," said Phillip C. Jones, a professor of management sciences in the Tippie College of Business. "The company's embrace of Lean, along with outstanding leadership and great workers, has helped Pella to become such an effective company. It will provide a significant career advantage for our students to see how it works up close."

Among the Pella executives the MBA-PM students will be learning from are: Denny Van Zanten, group vice president; Karin Peterson, vice president of human resources; Jackie Dout, chief financial officer; and Steve Printz, chief information officer.

Other notable business leaders who will meet with students during the week in Pella include Vince Newendorp, vice president of Vermeer Manufacturing, and Teresa Hay McMahon of the Office of Lean Enterprise in the State of Iowa's Department of Management.

The Tippie School of Management offers three MBA programs designed to enhance professional education: a full-time MBA, offered in Iowa City; the MBA for Professionals and Managers (MBA-PM) program, which is offered predominately in the evenings for working professionals in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities; and the Executive MBA in Iowa City. The Tippie College of Business, accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), is consistently ranked among the top business schools in the world. It provides instruction in a personalized setting with easy access to qualified faculty and staff, and its programs utilize the latest technology to ensure that students receive a comprehensive management education that will help them succeed in today's competitive world.

Celebrating 82 years in business, Pella Corporation is recognized in the window and door industry for its technology and innovation, having earned more than 100 product and design patents. In addition to windows and patio doors, the company also manufactures entry door systems with the same level of quality and technology for which Pella is known worldwide. The company is represented by a Direct Sales Network operating Pella Window & Door Showrooms nationwide. Pella Corporation has been recognized by FORTUNE Magazine as one of the 100 "Best Companies to Work For" the past seven consecutive years. For more information, call 888-84-PELLA or visit Information about careers with Pella is available online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,