Sunland Logistics Solutions – Lean is Strategic!

In the latest OpExChange event, Sunland Logistics Solutions in Simpsonville not only shared their management system but also provided a hands-on demonstration of their Lean Simulation. Participants from peer OpExChange companies in South Carolina actually participated in the simulation which introduces lean concepts including continuous flow, standard work, takt time, and cycle time.

OpExChange Event

Sunland Logistics Solutions is a top 100 third party logistics provider. They are passionate about leveraging the power of collaborative teams and connected technologies to help scale, innovate, & enhance customer experience. Their industries of expertise include automotive, retail, e-commerce, chemical, and industrial.

They offer a wide range of solutions, from reverse logistics to foreign trade zone accessibility. Their eleven locations span across the Southeast and Midwest with four million square feet, with five facilities in South Carolina. The Simpsonville facility, also their headquarters, has been an active OpExChange member for three years.

Sunland CEO, Arch Thomason, addressed the group with a candid discussion on the company strategy and how lean manufacturing is now integral to their strategy. He shared that they began lean in 2013 after being “punched in the nose” by losing a major client. Lean is now fundamental in their business plan. Arch remarked that “Lean is strategic. It is how we do business.”

The Sunland Management System begins with people and process, regardless of the business type. They want to make problems visible, teach people to respect one another, and offer growth to their employees. A primary part of their management system is now to have every employee “belt-trained” in their lean training program.

John Farris, CI Manager for Sunland, gave a deeper-dive into the Sunland Management System. It is built within their four cornerstone values: Safety First, Servant Leadership, Learning Organization, and Results Matter. John told the group that all Sunland employees will participate in their new Lean Belt program at some level. This recently developed program includes white belt, yellow belt, and green belt training and certification. The Lean Simulation is a key component of the white belt certification.

As part of the belt training, a “two-second Lean Implementation” and an A3 completion are part of the deliverables from the belt training.

John and Arch took the group on a tour through the “Trinity” warehouse which included an explanation of the VDM (visual daily management) board. Each work area across all their sites uses VDM to communicate and keep a visual score of their daily activities. John extended an offer to any OpExChange member to schedule a separate visit to observe the VDM activity during the morning meeting!

The culmination of the site visit was a two hour-long simulation activity. This activity replicates a company that builds “widgets.” The group went through three iterations of “developments” where concepts such as “pull” and standard work are introduced. The OpExChange participants in this event experienced first-hand how Sunland educates all their team on lean concepts that result in better quality, delivery, and cost.

Arch particularly likes the definition of lean from his sensei, Robert Martichenko – “Lean is providing maximum value to the customer at the lowest total cost.” As a learning organization, Sunland is eager to benchmark with other OpExChange companies. Arch stated that “We are still relatively new to this process … but this is strategic. It is not just tactical; it is something we do. It is how we do business.” OpExChange Event

The majority of the event was recorded and is available to OpExChange members along with presentation files and templates on the OpExChange on-line portal.


The OpExChange is a peer-to-peer network of companies in South Carolina known for generating data-driven success for members through benchmarking and best practices activities.  Member companies host events and share practical examples of industrial automation, lean manufacturing improvements, and leadership development. It is an invaluable resource to South Carolina companies that provides access to others who are on similar improvement journeys.  If you are interested in joining, contact Mike Demos ( or visit the OpExChange website to see current companies:

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