2020 40 Under 40: Benjamin Wood

Aug. 18, 2020
Benjamin Wood, Plant Manager, Anniston Alabama facility, New Flyer of America
  • One word to describe yourself: Committed
  • Alma Mater: Kennesaw State University, Benedictine University
  • Favorite hobby: Catching minnows and anything else my girls want to do
  • Fun fact about yourself: Living as a Buckeye in Alabama is interesting, to say the least.

Benjamin Wood is a standout manufacturing leader and the current plant manager of New Flyer of America’s Anniston, Ala., location. He exhibits passion in developing and leading his team, delivering exceptional quality and lean manufacturing and illustrates an innate understanding of multiple disciplines across New Flyer’s complex, engineered-to-order transit bus operation.

Wood began his career with New Flyer more than a decade ago as a business analyst at the St. Cloud, Minn., manufacturing facility. Within two years, he was promoted to materials manager, supervising a team of 50 dedicated to meeting parts availability budgets and targets, as well as overseeing the materials implementation of a secondary product line.

In 2014, Wood became director of materials for all six New Flyer production facilities across North America, leading a team of more than 200 people. In this role, he established key performance indicators to measure and improve inventory accuracy and process efficiencies, including on-time throughput; on-time shipping; inventory adjustment frequency; and Material Requirements Planning volatility for dependent sub-assemblies, accounting for 30 percent of a bus bill of materials.

In 2016, Wood moved to the Anniston facility. In 2017, he advanced his leadership capacity in a promotion to director of purchasing, controlling all purchasing functions for New Flyer’s transit bus business and overseeing $1 billion in annual spend with more than 350 global suppliers.

He also revamped supplier performance measurements, driving the improvement of on-time supplier delivery from 96.68 percent in the first half of 2017, to 98.15 percent for 2018 – a new record for New Flyer. Early in 2019, he was again promoted, this time to plant manager of the Anniston facility. In this current role, he leads a team of more than 700 people and is accountable for production throughput, on-site inspection by end customers, budgetary performance and work in process (WIP) management at a line rate of 15 buses per week.

Wood reduced WIP by 85 percent in one year, aligning it with annual operating goals while maintaining the production line rate, decreasing overtime, improving team retention and returning the plant to exceptional standards of 5S and lean principles. Since he assumed leadership of the Anniston facility, New Flyer has consistently received customer feedback on the significant quality improvements of bus builds.

Since stepping into the plant manager role, Wood has invested in the Anniston team’s growth, encouraging ongoing learning and development and supporting activities to improve and foster workplace diversity and inclusion. He has championed team building events, including Veteran’s Day celebrations, and has been tireless in supporting workforce development. He also remains steadfast in supporting community causes – including the annual United Way workplace fundraising campaign, as well as the “Light It Up Blue Day” each April, which raises awareness for autism.

“Along with the rest of the team, we’ve been able to restore better work / life balance at the Anniston facility. The team there is a special group of people who want to do the right things for all our stakeholders.”

“[My father] had a long, successful career in manufacturing, and he showed me that the best way to accomplish your goals is through dedication to the people you work with and to the fundamentals.”