Finding the linchpin

Valley Mills has been in LaPlata, New Mexico since the owner purchased the packager of corn products from a vendor distributor in 2006. The company has been roasting yellow, white and blue corn products and delivering them ground and whole to customers via distributor. Owner Teresa Lackey later added two more distributors and expanded into juniper ash, whereby juniper is collected, washed, burned and packaged for use in food preparation.

Lackey knew she wanted to develop a corn process that met the criteria of her growing list of vendors, and she also wished to become less involved in the day-to-day operations within five years. The importance of documentation emerged as the linchpin to reaching her goals and staying profitable.

After working with New Mexico MEP (NM MEP) on sustainability projects over the course of several years, Lackey vigorously applied the lean tools she learned to reach her goals. The result was the creation of a more visual production area with better labeling and inventory control, netting her an impressively clean business where employees are able to succeed at their jobs.

These improvements have, to date, culminated in the addition of a new product, sage ash; additional revenue of $10,000 quarterly; and the discovery of new customers and distribution channels.

“Denise Williams, Innovation Director at New Mexico MEP, has been an asset to Valley Mills’ growth with a new product line, new hires and sales. The resources shared and ability to work around various schedules has made us a more focused business and we meet our goals.” – owner, Teresa Lackey