The shop floor of any manufacturing plant is carefully laid out to maximize efficiency. When John Scroggins went to work for Mark Troyer Remodeling Co., Plain City, Ohio, he asked himself why a remodeling company couldn't be organized the same way.

In December 2001, Mark Troyer Remodeling implemented a "5S" program. These programs are used in industry to improve efficiency, safety, and profitability. The five S's are sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain.

In the case of Mark Troyer Remodeling, the company, which was experiencing a slow period during the winter months, got started with a reorganization of its shop area. The racking system was reconfigured and junk was thrown out. Tools and usable materials were consolidated and centralized. A box for broken equipment and tools was set up and one person was designated as being responsible for whatever was in it.

Before the company implemented its 5S program, it began holding 30-minute, twice-weekly "Toolbelt Meetings" to link the ongoing reorganizing effort to feedback and re-training.

One change in the shop -- the use of shadow boards mounted to indicate where specific tools should be kept -- has been applied to the company's fleet of vans and panel trucks. This way, Scroggins points out, helpers, who are often switched from job to job, always know where to get the right tool.

In the year and a half since implementing 5S, the company has lowered its cost of goods sold by 1.5%. The long-term goal is 5%.