NY Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Hi-Lite Drives Optimization with Kaizen Process

Hi-Lite Airfield Services Logo

Success Story Powered by Statewide New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership Member CITEC


Watertown, NY based Hi-Lite, started 30-years ago as a family company marking roads in New York State.  They were contracted by the local Air Base at Fort Drum to mark their runways which led to other airport opportunities.  With the purchase of an asphalt rejuvenator in 2005, they became the first full-service airfield maintenance contractor in the United States. Since that time they’ve grown their business providing services throughout the Western Hemisphere.  The company now employs 110 people across the US with 60 at their Watertown home office.  The companies objective is to help airfield operators make their airfields safe for everyone.

With rapid growth at many locations, it can become challenging to ensure consistent quality and service to all clients.  In 2019, a leadership workshop identified the need for a process to drive development, establishment and continuous process improvement across various parts of the business.

MEP’s Role

Hi-Lite turned to their long-time partner local New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership member, CITEC for help.  CITEC organized several Kaizen events to understand the company’s current state and to test ideas and solutions.  One such event focused on developing best practices for surface-painted holding markings on an airfield.  After a few days of experimentation, the team managed to eliminate the need for a 24-hour drying period from the process which reduced the project time from two days to one hour!  The old process required four people while the new one is handled with just two with paint application time improving from 3 hours to 1 hour.  This improvement alone yielded significant savings to Hi-Lite.  Other business aspects that leveraged kaizen included the use of Lean Six Sigma methods to understand variation of paint vendors colors, viscosity differences, and equipment analysis.

CITEC also helped Hi-Lite improve training procedures using the TWO JI program to standardize practices and training programs reducing onramp of new employees.

“Hi-Lite regularly engages with CITEC on projects to train our employees and build our leadership team as we continue to grow. Together we identified several key areas we needed to improve upon to meet our strategic goals. The continuous improvement projects have helped us stay competitive and improve our processes, the kaizen approach has allowed us to utilize our most valuable assets, our people. Our most recent project, a Lean Six Sigma training with active projects promises additional impacts for our company. We have established a strong relationship with CITEC and will continue to use their assistance in the future.”

— Tanya Rarick , Director of Training and Development


  • 2,500 work hour reduction per year
  • 1,480 gallons of paint per year savings
  • Reduction of down-time for runways due to painting project
  • Better trained workforce