Martin Tierney and Kerry McGuinness from Seating Matters are presented with the ‘Team of the Year’ Award by Noel Doran, editor of The Irish News

Seating Matters shows what teamwork and efficiency looks like

SEATING Matters in Limavady is the leading global manufacturer of therapeutic seating for those with low mobility, with its chairs exported from Northern Ireland to hospitals, care facilities and people’s homes around the world.

Employing 56 staff, Seating Matters wooed the judges by demonstrating exactly what teamwork, efficiency and improvement can look like in a business.

Indeed right now the company is recruiting for a couple of key roles – talent acquisition specialist and business development manager – with more soon to be announced.

Everyone at the company is bought into the purpose of the business: to improve lives, and they see how their role contributes and helps the next person.

In its application, the company said that a few years ago it was under pressure to meet increased sales of its life-changing chairs. “We demanded that the business tried to scale up our operation but in doing so we risked quality defects meaning sometimes rework was required and ended up actually slowing us down. People spent precious time looking for tools or asking how a process should be done. We were organised but not well-enough organised.

“That’s when the ‘2 Second Lean’ principle was deployed and everything changed. Very quickly, the whole team embraced this creative new mindset and started to look for ways to improve the processes in their part of the business with dramatic results.”

Seating Matters said that, unlike most workplaces, if something doesn’t go to plan our policy is “attack the process, not the person” and it takes immediate steps to address, which has fostered a genuine no blame culture.

It demonstrated innovative solutions, leading to best practice. Overcoming exceptional circumstances, its excellent teamwork led to improved delivery against goals, and its company motto is: To feel is to believe

“People don’t feel threatened by others and everyone is empowered to ask for help, which results in the business meeting its daily, weekly and monthly goals and colleagues feeling appreciated when they receive a shout-out and round of applause from the whole business for going helping out a colleague in need.”

They add: “A factory runs smoothest with absolute consistency and zero deviations, however the chairs that we make are for people with disabilities or issues around mobility and from time to time this means bespoke customisations are required to accommodate particular body shapes. The result is a potential challenge for the factory, but our teamwork processes and communications are such that we can now create customisations with very little impact on output timings.

“One of our most successful innovations has been to empower every member of the team to look for problems, find better ways to do things and to share their improvements with everyone in the business.

“The upshot of this is that our lead times are the very best in our industry and our pricing is more competitive as we have eliminated waste. This is better for our distributors and ultimately the chair users and caregivers.”