A Man of Motivation
When he heard the news that his in-plant was on the brink of being shut down, Danny Kirkland’s first emotion was shock. He was completely unaware that turnaround times were too slow. And because volume, revenue and sales were not being tracked, there was virtually no way to demonstrate the in-plant’s value.
In the end, HealthSouth Print Solutions was not cut, enabling Kirkland to turn that shock into motivation and transform his in-plant into a shining example of success.
HealthSouth is among the largest providers of rehabilitation services in the United States, specializing in the treatment of strokes, amputations and other injuries. Its in-plant is located in downtown Birmingham, AL, about a 20 minute drive from the company’s corporate headquarters.
Kirkland says that when Print Solutions was assessed internally by HealthSouth, the recommendation was that the in-plant be run more like a business. For Kirkland, this meant developing milestones and leading his team to achieving them. By doing this, he was able to grow the in-plant approximately 80 percent between 2010 and 2014.
“I was able to plan for future growth,” Kirkland says. “It was kind of a shock to start with, but after that, momentum just kept building on itself because we then could reach this goal.”
Staying Above Ground
Though he’s lived in the Birmingham area for more than 25 years, Kirkland’s roots are in Pikeville, KY, a small Appalachian city, where the main industry is coal mining. Kirkland’s entire family was in the coal business, but he had an artistic side, and working in the mines was not the ideal way to let it out.
“I just didn’t like being underground,” he recalls.
Once he graduated high school, Kirkland set off on his own to Birmingham, which he says was like moving to the big city when compared to his hometown. His first job in Birmingham was at a company called EBSCO Industries, where he spent about six months working in the mailroom. In January of 1989 he applied for a position in the company’s small in-plant print shop.
Kirkland landed the job and received his first printing experience by learning to run an ABDick 360. But that wasn’t his only job at the four-employee in-plant. Kirkland says that in such a small shop, all employees were expected to know how the entire operation worked, and during the time he spent at EBSCO Industries, he had his hands in just about everything.
“Like most people in a small in-plant, I learned how to shoot darkroom negatives, make plates, cut stock, fold stock—pretty much everything,” Kirkland relates. “We only had three or four people, so basically everybody in there had done everything from start to finish.”
Seeking a move upward, Kirkland took a position at EBSCO Media, which is one of the largest printers in the Southeast United States and a related company to EBSCO Industries. Kirkland worked at EBSCO Media until 1996, and also ran his own independent printing company for a period of time.
“[EBSCO Media] had big offset presses and it was a much bigger operation,” Kirkland explains. “I knew that was the place I wanted to go to.”
A New Beginning
But in 1996, another enticing opportunity presented itself. HealthSouth had opened a brand new facility for its printing operation and a position was available to run a Heidelberg Speedmaster 52. Kirkland got the job and within six months was promoted to a six-color Heidelberg Speedmaster 74.
In just two years at HealthSouth, Kirkland obtained his first managerial role as pressroom manager. After two more years, he moved up to production manager. And in 2010, he took over as the director of printing, the title he currently holds.
Around the same time he received the promotion though, the in-plant was being widely criticized throughout the company. To help jumpstart the turnaround, Kirkland and his management team developed specific times to meet to discuss objectives and goals for Print Solutions.
With quality now an expectation in the printing business, he focused on faster turnaround times to differentiate the in-plant.
“Every day, we’re tracking and discussing work in progress, looking at deadlines, and planning for where we are,” he says. “In an in-plant, the worst thing that can happen is jobs not getting to the customer. Everybody has to do quality work because if you don’t do quality work, nobody is going to buy it.”
Related story: Process Rehabilitation at HealthSouth