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Jay VanderZwaag

LeaderWork Coach
Jay VanderZwaag is a seasoned veteran in the realm of operational leadership and cultural development, currently serving as the Vice President of Operations and Company Culture at Smart Vision Lights in Norton Shores, Michigan. His real-world experience is the bedrock of his approach to leadership development, with a career spanning four decades in manufacturing, filled with hands-on roles that have shaped his expertise and approach.
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In his capacity as a coach and instructor, Jay has been an integral part of the leadership development community for over 8 years, bringing practical, actionable insights to those looking to hone their skills in the manufacturing industry. His teachings are deeply influenced by his own experiences, making him a relatable and effective mentor.

Jay’s commitment to practical application of leadership principles is further exemplified by his 15-year tenure as an instructor with the University of Michigan’s Lean Certification program. There, he guided manufacturing managers, supervisors, and shop floor team members through the intricacies of Lean Enterprise, emphasizing the importance of aligning and integrating supporting roles to the lean philosophy.

His hands-on leadership style was notably impactful during his time at Donnelly Corporation, where he played a crucial role in developing and implementing the Donnelly Production System—a Lean philosophy modeled after the Toyota Production System. Jay’s responsibility extended beyond operational duties to include teaching and coaching lean systems and tools to employees at all levels, from shop floor team members to the organization’s vice presidents.

Jay’s primary focus is on providing tangible, hands-on lean coaching and consulting services, supporting shop floor implementation, and aiding companies in the transition to a lean enterprise. His approach is characterized by a strong emphasis on structure, alignment, and accountability, with a goal of improving bottom-line results through the development of effective leaders.

Professional Activities

Specializing in fostering a Culture of Continuous Improvement, Jay excels in plant leadership and team development, project management, Hoshin Planning, and Lean systems training. As a Master Coach in Toyota Kata, he is dedicated to instilling a mindset of continuous improvement and problem-solving, ensuring that the principles of lean are not just understood but effectively put into practice.