AstenJohnson : Hoshin Kanri Policy Deployment in Clinton

OpExChangeCLINTON, SC -March 9, 2021 - AstenJohnson (AJ) has been a member of the OpExChange for a little over a year and quickly established themselves as a significant collaborator to the South Carolina group. In the OpExChange presentation this week, they gave a fantastic look into how their global company employs Hoshin Kanri as the primary tool for strategic planning from a corporate level and alignment of these goals with their day-to-day operations. They have used this process for ten years and continue to improve on its effectiveness. Representatives from companies across the state attended this informative session.

Mike Cuggy, the Global Operational Excellence Leader for AJ, operates out of their headquarters in Charleston, SC and works very closely with their paper mill in Clinton, SC. Mike was the key presenter today, joined with a closing commentary from Ron McKenna, the President of PMC Americas for AJ.

AJ is a 230 year-old, family-owned company with a tenured work-force. There are three divisions in the company – Paper Mill Products, Advanced Fabrics, and Nonwovens. The Paper Mill products division encompasses approximately 70% of their global business. Mike explained some of the technology behind this complex process. A typical paper machine can be as long as a football field.

The AstenJohnson business model centers on Operational Excellence with their foundational under-pinning on their cultures, values, vision, and mission.

Mike explained that strategic planning is a key part of this model and they have been using the Hoshin “X-factor” method for ten years. He then proceeded to walk through the actual strategic plan of the corporation and how it cascades from the three-year vision to actual action plans and accountability at various levels of the company.

The company introduced “My AJ Career” several years ago which is a program that ties every salaried employee objectives to the strategic goals. Mike shared an example of one of his own personal objectives which is to reduce recordable injuries by 50% in 2021. This ties directly to the Zero Accident Culture in the corporate vision. Mike pointed out that one of the most important tools in driving results is the “A3” tool which utilizes the Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology.

The OpExChange participants were grateful for the transparency that AJ provided and the sharing of the methodology. All participants received copies of the presentation files as well as Excel templates for the Hoshin X-Matrix, Bowling Score Cards, and A3 reporting.


The OpExChange is a peer-to-peer network of companies in South Carolina dedicated to learning and growing together. 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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