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Don A. Blake

Industry Consultant, Purdue EPCom
Don has 34 years in aerospace manufacturing and operations. Don is recently retired from Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. (formerly The Boeing Company's Wichita Division). In 1995, Boeing initiated its 'Lean Manufacturing/Continuous Improvement' culture. Don was selected as the Boeing Wichita Division implementation manager. During those early years and since, Don and his teams have been recognized by industry and academia as one of a few in aerospace to achieve long-term success in applying and integrating Lean Manufacturing into aerospace manufacturing operations. This includes extending methods, techniques and tools back into supply chain partners.

Don is a tried, tested and proven strategist/tactician who understands success comes from pragmatic planning, team-building, and ultimately delivering performance through flawless execution. Throughout his career Don has been a student/practitioner of 'Systems Dynamics/Systems Thinking', pioneered by Forrester, Ackoff and Senge, and used in the development of 'learning organizations'. Don had the privilege of being trained and mentored by Chihiro Nakao; former Toyota manager and protege of Taiichi Ohno. Boeing provided Don with training and access to other well known quality and improvement gurus such as W. Edwards Deming, Armand Feigenbum and Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt.

Don's adaptations and applications of continuous improvement haven't been relegated to airplane factories. Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems used Don as an internal consultant in nearly all of its facilities and several key suppliers to help design and kick-start Lean/Continuous Improvement implementations. This included highly customized, long-cycle products, such as satellites and launch vehicles.

In the later part of his tenure with Spirit AeroSystems Don served as Director of Wing Segment, Operational Efficiency and Strategic Initiatives. Oversight included facilities in Oklahoma, North Carolina, Scotland, Malaysia, and France. Don's first project assigned in 2006 was to form a team, conduct research and due diligence for locating and negotiating additional global manufacturing sites. Sites in Malaysia and North Carolina were selected and constructed. Negotiations with state and local authorities in North Carolina resulted in over $250 million dollars in incentives to implement a five phase green field start up for manufacturing aircraft structures.

In 2011, Don was given the opportunity to join the North Carolina startup team. Originally recruited as Quality and Site Services director, he was later asked to also take over the Business Management function. Site Services for the North Carolina business unit included departments for site facilities maintenance and security management, Information Technology services, and Environmental, Health & Safety management. In addition, Don was assigned all continuous improvement and lean manufacturing oversight which included training of all employees, development/training of internal experts, development of performance metrics and scorecards. Don served as company liaison to state, city and county officials as well.

Don obtained his undergraduate degree from Iowa State University and graduate degree from Wichita State University. He is APICS Certified in Production Inventory Management (CPIM) and ASQ certified as a Continuous Quality Improvement Associate (CQIA).

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