Meet Our Team Members Below:

Bill Artzberger has over twenty-five years of experience in real-world senior management, including CIO, VP, President and CEO. He has worked with thousands of individuals from the boardroom to the shop floor, in virtually all sectors of industry.


Bill is a partner at the Lean Learning Center.  He specializes in Lean Training, Consulting in Lean Manufacturing, Project Management, Kaizen Implementations, Shop Floor Management, Information Systems, and Supply Chain Management.

Bill earned his Master of Business Administration degree (MBA) from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan with a major in management and a minor in marketing. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree (BA) from Walsh College in Troy, Michigan with a major in Information Systems and a minor in finance. He also holds an Associate of Applied Science degree (AS) from Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills, Michigan with a major in systems analysis. Bill is ITIL Certified, a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a PMI certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

Bill brings extensive strategic, project management, lean manufacturing, and information technology experience to The Lean Learning Center.  He is also co-author of the top selling  Lean book Driving Operational Excellence.

  • Clients have included: DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, DTE Energy, Ford Motor Company, Spirit Aero Systems, GE, American Airlines, and BlueCross BlueShield
  • Provides information systems analysis, project management, portfolio management, organizational assessments, and due diligence for the private equity investment community
  • Holds of two patents and has been published dozens of times
  • Regular speaker on college campuses and corporate events around the country
  • Enjoys a reputation as a consultant with a unique combination of a broad business background, strong manufacturing experience, and deep technical knowledge

Tom Bechtel has more than thirty years of industrial and consulting experience in all aspects of manufacturing operations and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). In his work as a consultant, he has provided lean training, leadership coaching, kaizen workshops, project management and ERP implementation to a variety of industries.


Tom graduated with degrees in both math and physics and electrical engineering from Penn State University. Tom is also a certified “Fellow” in Production and Inventory Control (CFPIM) by APICS.

He began his career as a shop floor supervisor and trainer for GE subsequently working in senior operations management positions with Nortel and Mitel and ultimately Vice President of Operations for Kaval Wireless Technologies before joining the ranks of the consulting community.

Tom is an accomplished trainer, mentor, facilitator and consultant for both Lean Manufacturing and ERP strategies and practices.

Tom’s wide range of experience in electronics, healthcare, food processing, automotive and gas/electric utilities has afforded him the advantage of being able to help companies with the blending of shop floor process improvement with business implementation enhancement. Many of his projects include:

  • Project management to implement LeanERP,  concurrent engineering, synchronous flow lines, new practices for design & build of complex products
  • Implementation of production work cells and kanban systems for GE Canada and GE Puerto Rico
  • Earlier implementation of ERP systems for a variety of companies in a variety of industries
  • Forensic analysis and resolution of material production control systems
  • Facilitation of Lean Learning Laboratories in food processing and auto manufacturing
  • Lean materials development and training for gas/electric public utilities, food processing and healthcare
  • Facilitation of over 100 kaizen workshops in a variety of industries from repetitive manufacturing to patient delivery in healthcare
  • Featured speaker and trainer for APICS

Melissa Curtis-Hendley is the Instructional Design Director for the Lean Learning Center. Her diverse background includes designing training initiatives for and consulting with numerous manufacturing and non-profit organizations.  Prior to joining the Lean Learning Center in 2006, she served as a human resource generalist for a county community bank.


Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree as well as a Master of Training and Development degree, from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She also earned a professional certification in human resources from the Human Resource Certification Institute in Alexandria, VA.  Melissa currently lectures on instructional design methods and program evaluation in the Human Resource Development department at Oakland University’s School of Education and Human Services.

Melissa’s responsibilities with the Lean Learning Center include designing customized curriculum content and delivery methods for client and public courses, planning and evaluating design, delivery and instructional flow of training and instructional products and conducting needs analysis to identify learning audiences.   She designed the Lean Learning Center’s Single Point Lesson package as well as the Center’s Lean Quad and Beer Game simulations and is currently developing the Lean Learning Laboratory package. Additionally, Melissa has assisted in facilitating lean workshops for Burger Boat Company and Agilent Technologies and provides support for Lean Experience® classes held at Simmons Foods in the U.S. and Intel Corporation worldwide.

She also engages with clients to facilitate content development reviews, and defines project tasks, identifies resources required, assigns responsibilities and monitors progress against established timelines.  Her instructional design projects for the Lean Learning Center include:

  • A leadership course for United Technologies
  • A lean human resources course for Fidelity Investments
  • Learning activities and participant guide for the Lean Learning Center’s, Tactics of Lean Innovation public workshop
  • Facilitator, participant guides and game materials for the Lean Learning Center’s Mouse Trap game
  • Materials and participant guides for the Lean Learning Center’s Leading Lean workshop
  • Facilitator guides and reference materials for Aces lean course curriculum including Kaizen Essentials, Leading Lean Events and ACES for Leaders
  • Participant guides for LM Glasfiber, AGCO, Network Rail and Irish Rail lean workshops
  • Learning activities and participant takeaway materials for Timken’s supervisor training series
  • Learning activities, facilitator guides and participant takeaway materials for Oshkosh’s Operating System workshops

Marcos Fabris is a lean manufacturing professional with solid production management and quality management experience in industries including shoes, metal mechanics and manufacturing. He has been introducing lean manufacturing tools and developing projects since 2000.Marco_Henrique_Fabris

Marcos holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from PUCRS and a postgraduate degree in Production Management from UFRGS.  He has completed additional seminars and course work including the Lean Experience from the Lean Learning Center, Six Sigma – Green Belt from Werkema, Trading from Paulo Pizarro, and Endomarketing from Unisinos.

Previous to joining the Lean Learning Center, Marcos was a director and consultant at Deploy Management Consulting where he developed and coordinated lean transformation projects for metal mechanics, footwear, textile and drinks industries in Northeast and South Brazil.  At GS Consulting Service, LTD., Marcos trained more than 60 clients of GS Brazil and was in charge of the administrative, commercial and technical areas of Northeast Regional. An Industrial Director at MR Footwear Industry and Trade LTD, Marcos managed the whole process with three production lines with a capacity of 3,000 pairs a day, and supervised a staff of 400 employees.

Marcos’s experiences in lean management include:

  • Consulting in the areas of production management and quality management, focusing on improvement and rationalization of processes, ISO 09001-2008 and development of Lean Manufacturing
  • Planning and analyzing production flow, cost/estimation control, supplying, manufacturing procedures and time measurements
  • Referencing planning and analysis of production flow, cost /estimation control, supplying, working out of manufacturing procedures and time measurements
  • Developing strategic planning with the use of BSC and methodology used in big and medium enterprises

Chris McKellen is a Senior Consultant with the Lean Learning Center, based in the UK. He started his career in the machine tool industry and was then involved in setting up a new factory to manufacture air compressors, before taking up a group role in manufacturing engineering. At a specialist diesel engine manufacturer he gained an insight in to the benefits and pitfalls of the early flexible manufacturing systems and the need to increase productivity on such systems.

After joining the automotive division of a major US based group, he learned that some of the traditional planning tools and measures used throughout manufacturing industries could sometimes create major problems within the business. This realization, coupled with the need to improve productivity in a highly unionized environment, led to his keen interest in Lean Manufacturing, the empowerment of employees and the constant drive to become World Class.

Chris_McKellenHe moved to the People’s Republic of China to take total responsibility for setting up and the start-up of a new World Class manufacturing plant for automotive components. This plant is now recognized as the benchmark plant for quality and productivity in the turbocharger business. Following his return to the UK, he coordinated the six-sigma / operational excellence program across a number of European plants before carrying out consultancy assignments in the area of Lean Manufacturing.

He completed a long term assignment with another major US based automotive component manufacturing company where he trained employees in modern manufacturing techniques, managed major projects and introduced the Lean Manufacturing concepts and philosophies to traditional purchasing and materials departments and the supply chain.

Since 2001, Chris has developed long-term relationships with many organizations, in the UK, Europe and Asia, both large and small to help them implement service and business improvement techniques. He passionately believes that service improvements need to be implemented by teams of ‘real’ people in their workplace – not by individuals sitting in offices.

Susan PleasantSusan Pleasant
Lean Learning Center
706 669-1786 mobile
248 906-8605 Lean Learning Center

Susan Pleasant is a partner at the Lean Learning Center specializing in making new levels of performance excellence a reality for companies undergoing lean transformation. Susan leverages over 25 years of experience from shop floor supervision to senior executive responsibilities at Frito Lay, Nabisco, Consolidated Container, and Wise Foods. She specializes in lean systems applied in manufacturing, supply chain, new product development and commercialization, production planning, and customer service.

Lean Skills and Competencies

Susan’s primary skills and competencies include coaching and advising company and business unit leaders as well as mid-level and front line management; lean strategic road map development; problem solving and problem solving systems; direct observation, process design, and rapid experimentation and improvement; lean management systems; kaizen; set up reduction, 5S, and visual management.

She is a skilled instructor of the Lean Experience, Leading Lean, Go See (Direct Observation, Process Design, Experimentation), Improvement Coaching, Lean Management Systems, Front Line Manager Training, and Kaizen Boot Camp.


Network Rail, Irish Rail, AGCO, Simmons Foods, Pitt Meadows Plumbing and Mechanical, MAST Logistics (supply chain division of Limited Brands), Spartanburg Steel Products, Timken Bearings, Tyson, Cooper Farms, Intel, ES3, United Technologies, Hallmark, Crayola, LM Glasfibre, Amazon, Ocean Spray, Mahle, Siemens, and others.


  • Coached lean program managers and senior management teams during Phase 1 lean systems implementation
  • Reduced operating costs at Irish Rail over €700,000 with kaizen workshops
  • Identified over 1,000 improvement opportunities in Go See workshops at Network Rail some implemented prior to workshop end
  • Improved capital planning, competency certification planning, capital project planning and execution processes, and possession planning processes at railway clients
  • Reduced set up time 30-45% at client workshops
  • Problem solving and process improvement instruction and coaching delivered results saved money, improved quality, improved safety, or delivered substantially improved customer service
  • Frontline management training modules developed were implemented globally by major company
  • Reduced factory cycle times by 46% avoiding major capital expense for capacity during volume growth
  • Organizations using leadership coaching achieved globally recognized improvement over two year period. Coaching wasn’t the only intervention but was a notable change during the time


Senior Vice President of Operations reporting to CEO, Wise Foods             2001 – 2005

Reduce COGS 4.5%
Introduced lean


Senior Vice President of Operations reporting to CEO, Consolidated           1999-2001
Container Company

Improved EBITDA 5.6%
Introduced lean at 10 plants
Vice President of Manufacturing, LifeSavers Co. division of Nabisco           1995 – 1999

$15 million savings
Introduced new commercialization process, implemented 6 major
new products in 2 years
Director of Manufacturing, Services and Distribution Frito Lay                   1991 – 1995

Plant Manager Frito Lay                                                                                1988 – 1991

Positions of increasing responsibility Frito Lay                                            1979 – 1988


Leading Lean, Lean Experience at Lean Learning Center
Leading Product Development, Harvard University
Principled Centered Leadership, Covey Leadership Center
Leadership Development Program, Center for Creative Leadership


University of South Carolina 1976, graduate studies education
Winthrop University, 1973, Bachelor of Arts Biology

Al Pond is a senior consultant for the Lean Learning Center and has collected nearly 50 years of experience, between Ford, his consulting practice, as founder of ALX Consulting and teaching at the University of Michigan Dearborn.   Al developed his lean skills during thirty-eight years with Ford focused on operations, engineering and strategic planning.  He retired in 2002 as the executive founding member of the Ford Production System.  In his second career as a consultant and teacher, his focus has been on executive leadership and implementation of lean systems based on his experiences with the Ford Production Systems and expertise in the Toyota Production System.


Al graduated with a BS in Management and an MBA from the Eastern Michigan University.  He attended Executive Development classes at the University of Michigan and Lean Enterprise Systems at the University of Tennessee.  He is a lifetime Certified Manufacturing Engineer by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

Al holds the distinction of being one of an elite group of manufacturing executives that actually started as a union represented hourly worker on the shop floor. He progressed through the skilled trades via the apprenticeship program and then on to engineering and management. This wide variety of experience, starting as a production worker and progressing to a senior manager, gives him a most unique perspective and background as a lean change agent.

Al’s extensive experience from plant floor to executive suite include: Manufacturing Operations and Engineering, Product Development, Strategic Planning and Employee Development. In 1993 he was recognized by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) for outstanding program achievement in the automotive industry as the author of Ford’s New Employee Orientation Program.

Al’s experience and accomplishments are wide and varied including:

  • TPM prize award by Japanese Institute of Preventive Maintenance at the Charleville Climate Operations in France
  • Ford’s senior coach and mentor for lean implementation in South America, Asia-Pacific, component operations (Visteon) and major new vehicle programs.
  • Responsible for developing the lean curriculum and training for the staff of Oakland University, one of the early attempts to institute lean into academic operations
  • Lean trainer and workshop facilitator for a semi-conductor provider in Japan, Malaysia and China
  • Lean trainer and management coach for a leading worldwide snack food manufacturer
  • Trainer and executive coach for LM Glassfiber’s North American Windmill operations
  • Kaizen facilitator, Coach and trainer for the Detroit Medical Center and Sinai Grace Hospital
  • Clients have included, AGCO, AlphaUSA, Dana Corp, Detroit Medical Center, Fidelity, Freescale Semiconductor, Genzyme Pharmaceutical, M&M Mars, J.D. Power, Limited Brands, Oakland University, Oshkosh Corp, Sinai Grace Hospital, Seneca Foods, and Timken Corp.

Kevin Bradley brings nearly 30 years of Lean manufacturing, supply chain and service experience to his clients. Kevin has guided and/or supported strategic and tactical solutions for a variety of customers spanning from Assembly to Service to High Technology facilities. Primarily in the Consumer products industry, Kevin has held roles and implemented Lean principles/systems/tools at every level of the organization from shop floor to the Board Room.

Prior to joining the Lean Learning Center, Kevin was the leader responsible for implementing the Simmons Production System at Simmons Companies. In this role, he was responsible for taking 18 plants and 3000+ associates forward from some pockets of excellence to a Toyota like system. Leading by example and personal involvement at the front lines helped Simmons achieve significant reductions in lead-times, inventories and operating costs.

Over time, rapid success led to his doing consulting work for suppliers and customers building some ultra-competitive supply chain solutions that are recognized throughout the industry. For Simmons lean also branched out into Product Development and Service areas to create a total system. Additionally machinery suppliers in the sewing industry became part of the SPS family delivering world class technology solutions to the home furnishings industry.

Mr. Bradley is also a member of the Shingo Board of Examiners. Through this process, Kevin has made contacts and contributions to a variety of other industries including: Automotive, Aerospace, Medical, and the Military by providing Kaizen facilitation support and assessments.

Mr. Bradley received his BS in Electrical Engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology. Also, he possesses many professional accreditations in Lean, Six Sigma Black Belt, Project Management, Quality Engineering, Facilitation and Theory of Constraints. He remains an active member in ASQ, SME, and AME. He is an active Instrument rated Pilot, a father and grandfather who currently resides with his wife, Paula, in Johns Creek, Georgia.

Michael is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt who brings over twenty years of experience to The Lean Learning Center, applying best practice improvement tools to drive performance in efficiency, value and customer satisfaction by improving manufacturing and transactional processes, safety, shop practices, product quality, testing and inspection methods, and production equipment reliability and maintenance.

Throughout his career, Michael has led more than 50 L6S Black Belt projects that focused on process improvement, strategic planning, technical problem resolution and implementation of company initiatives.  He established and directed world class Lean and Six Sigma programs for four companies that produced an 87% improvement in product quality, while reducing operating costs by 23%.  Michael’s proven track record has produced over $66 million dollars in savings for his clients.  He also has extensive experience working directly with leadership to steer decision making in soling critical issues in quality, engineering, safety, executive management, customer satisfaction, corporate planning and personnel resourcing.

Michael holds a Master of Science in Industrial Optimization from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology from the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio.  In addition, Michael holds multiple certifications as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Project Manager, Experienced Change Agent, Kepner-Tregoe Situation, Decision and Problem Analysis and is also a Certified Incident Investigator.  He specializes in  DMAIC, Kaizen, DFLSS (DMEDI), R6S, CMMI, TPS, DOE, Regression, ANOVA, Chi-square Test, Median Testing, Hypothesis Testing, SPC, Gage R&R (MSA), FMEA/PFMEA, 5S, Pull Systems, VSM, Poka-yoke (error proofing), TPM, Takt Boards, C&E, Capability Analysis, Control Plans and Kanban.  He also has expertise with Statistical Analysis and Problem Evaluation Software including Minitab, SigmaXL, REASON Root Cause Analysis and Simul8 Process Modeling.

Tom is a senior consultant at the Lean Learning Center with over 25 years’ experience in the process of implementing a lean culture in a global manufacturing company. In addition to leading implementation he has coached and mentored hundreds of individuals to implement lean tools and concepts on a global basis. With strong interpersonal skills, Tom has successfully developed and delivered a wide variety of lean training and educational programs. Tom has the diverse skill set essential to building the relationships necessary to successfully implement and sustain lean.

Tom Rubin Senior Lean Consultant

Prior to joining the Lean Learning Center, Tom played a leadership role at the Timken Company in Canton Ohio. Tom’s projects and major accomplishments include the following:

  • Created and delivered Lean Leadership Training for all global leadership teams
  • Created and delivered Lean Basic Training for operative associates
  • Developed and implemented a Lean Production Management System, incorporating six foundational lean tools, throughout Timken Bearing plants globally
  • Mentored and coached candidates globally to complete a Lean Leader Certification program
  • Led the development and deployment of Front Line Leader Lean Training program globally
  • Conducted plant lean assessments globally on an annual basis
  • Coordinated and led Global Lean Conferences for all Timken Bearing plants
  • Collaborated in the development of Timken Problem Solving Process with Quality Department
  • Developed and delivered the Train the Trainer program to deploy the Timken Problem Solving Process
  • Led the implementation of multiple lean tools and standards at Timken manufacturing plants globally
  • Designed the material and information flow and connections for proposed eastern European Timken
  • Bearing Plant
  • Lead and conducted lean6sigma training globally
  • Developed and implemented training to support TPM, 5S, and Set-up reduction efforts
  • Coordinated the Canton District Apprenticeship program (150+ apprentices in multiple crafts)
  • Managed a staff of 25 people responsible for eligibility and placement of unemployed workers

Ron spent his first 30 years working to improve the automotive manufacturing processes at the Ford Motor Company and Visteon Automotive Systems. His major contribution was the highly successful launch of the Ford Romeo Engine Plant, which produced the world class Triton Engine. Subsequently, he was the founding director of the Ford Production System (FPS) Institute, which deployed the FPS System to 340,000 employees in 73 plants in 43 countries.

Ron has worked with hundreds of manufacturing sites in automotive tier 1, 2 and 3 plants. While personally managing the axle assembly operations at the Sterling Axle Plant, he introduced Lean concepts and won national acclaim. He was published as a finalist in the Franz Edlehman Award for global excellence in Industrial Operations Engineering as a result of productivity improvements in the Front Axle Assembly Department at Sterling.

For the past fifteen years, Ron has worked as a consultant to organizations in a wide variety of industries ranging from computer chip manufacturing to poultry processing and health care delivery to engine testing. His engagements include training, team development, process improvement events and broader demonstration projects integrating plants and processes across international borders. His notable clients include Intel, DANA, Harley Davidson, Visteon, Pratt Whitney, Carrier, Sikorsky, UTC, and lesser-known but unique clients like Burger Boat, a producer of world class 100+ foot luxury motor yachts founded in 1863. His most notable success was helping a poultry processor in Arkansas improve their “Agri-stats” (a set of nationally collected productivity measures collected and published by the USDA) from last place to first place among 25 competitors over a five-year period. These improvements helped fund the acquisition of a competitor’s company increasing his client’s capacity by an additional 50% at a time when other poultry processors were declaring bankruptcy.

Ron has taught SPC, TQM, FPS and Lean Systems to thousands of students and manufacturing professionals. He is a regular guest lecturer at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Detroit Mercy and has been very active in research and teaching programs at Michigan Technological University. Ron has a B.S. in Computer Science and an MBA in Manufacturing Planning and Control Systems from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Ron focuses on the leadership understanding of and commitment to the Lean journey. He promotes active engagement and consistent encouragement as a critical success factor. Ron’s mantra is “If we do not improve our processes today, tomorrow’s results will be no better than yesterday’s.”