On May 22, 2011, a catastrophic tornado cut a 13-mile path of destruction through Joplin, Mo., killing 161 people and destroying thousands of homes. It was an overwhelming situation for the community. Residents found themselves displaced from the homes they had lived in for years, many now residing in one of several FEMA trailer parks. Seeing the need to get people back into their houses, Rebuild Joplin, a local nonprofit group, was formed. In an effort to maximize its impact, Rebuild Joplin became the “first” affiliate of the St. Bernard Project (SBP), a nonprofit organization started to help Hurricane Katrina survivors return home in New Orleans. (See St. Bernard Project Success Story). TSSC, which already had a successful partnership with SBP, soon got involved in Joplin.
Rebuild Joplin initially put together a large contingent of volunteers (AmeriCorps and local citizens), but had no organized system of scheduling either them, or its construction contractors. Also, one of the major challenges was to speed up the “wait time” home owners were incurring from application process to construction.
Similar to New Orleans, Toyota Production System (TPS) techniques were instituted in Joplin. With TSSC’s help, inventory could now be tracked, volunteers were now scheduled for specific duties, plus there was no guesswork when it came to the status of a home-rebuilding project. “On the walls of our headquarters, we now have boards that allow you to quickly gauge volunteer schedules, plus how far along each home is,” said Jerrod Hogan, co-founder, Rebuild Joplin.
Since TPS efficiencies were implemented, the time it takes for Rebuild Joplin to reconstruct a home has dropped from an average of 62 days to 41 days – a 34 percent improvement. Much of that can be credited to TSSC working closely with Rebuild Joplin’s professional staff, skilled construction supervisors and AmeriCorps volunteer members to improve homebuilding efficiencies.
“One of our main goals coming into Rebuild Joplin was to reduce the amount of time it took from when a home owner applied to when construction began on their house,” said TSSC’s Sylvester DuPree. “Couple that with reducing the amount of construction time and we are getting people back into their homes faster.”
Hogan added, “This has allowed us to take donated dollars and donated time from volunteers and make it more efficient. These improvements are making an incredible difference in our ability to rebuild homes for families in Joplin quickly and affordably.”