Freightliner: Driven to Make a Difference


Freightliner: Driven to Make a Difference

Ready. Set. Filter Build!

Field Note #223

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Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) is a leading manufacturer of premium diesel chassis for the luxury RV, commercial bus and walk-in van markets. As a part of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), they’re also changing the game in the world of W|W filter builds.

Although the W|W filter build has always had a place in corporate settings, it has mainly been functioning as a team-building or social event. However, FCCC Production Manager Britt Bernhardt saw an opportunity to do more with the Sawyer filter.

Britt Bernhardt, production manager at FCCC.

Britt Bernhardt, production manager at FCCC.


Through an acquaintance, Britt learned about Wine To Water and the Filter Build program. He noticed that many aspects of assembling a filter were similar to processes FCCC conducted on a daily basis. Britt didn’t just see a team-building opportunity – he also saw a way to train team leaders to recognize waste in production processes, improve efficiency, and strengthen teamwork on the assembly lines.

Of course, FCCC already had equipment to train their team leaders. During training sessions, leaders would use reusable systems and pipes to figure out the best process to assemble their items in an efficient and timely manner. However, these training items would either be thrown away or recycled for the next training session. They never went beyond the walls of FCCC, but Britt saw an opportunity to change that by partnering with W|W.

The Sawyer filter would replace the old system, while the FCCC training structure would remain mostly the same. The biggest difference? FCCC would send every filter assembled back to W|W, implementing a profound impact in their new training program.

Three W|W employees had the honor of joining FCCC for one of their unique filter build sessions on February 26. We were greeted by Quality Supervisor Chad Ridings, who was also responsible for the team leader trainings at the facility.

Chad Ridings, quality supervisor at FCCC.

Chad Ridings, quality supervisor at FCCC.

We train our team leaders on lean tools and principles, but we didn’t spend much time with practical exercises giving them the hands-on experience to understand how the tools and principles apply to their daily jobs. We began to notice that they really didn’t have the right tools to make their areas better, so we started this training class to really help develop and teach them the tools to allow them to be leaders in their area.
— Chad Ridings

Chad lead us into the conference room where the training was taking place. We observed their presentations on the five ways to ensure cleanliness and effective time management on the assembly floor, and then the filters came onto the scene.

The training began with the filter parts strewn across the tables, jumbled and unorganized. The team leaders were challenged to assemble as many filters as they could with no instruction in a certain amount of time. The timer was started, and with it the confusion of many team members. No filters were assembled at the end of the first round – but that was the point!

The group needed clear work instructions and organization to complete the task. Methods of effective communication were discussed amongst the leaders and in relation to how they could apply this communication to the assembly line. From there, the real competition began.

The group was split into two teams, and each group was allowed to strategize how to build filters faster than their opponents. A new energy entered the room when some friendly competition was thrown into the mix. But along with the jesting and joking, there was also a lot of encouragement and healthy communication corresponding between team members as they worked towards their goals.


After several rounds of speedy filter constructions, the fastest time at the end of the day was five filters in 38 seconds. Although they were frustrated they didn’t reach the FCCC record of 33 seconds, they were in high spirits at the conclusion of the day’s training.

Bo Tate, back-up team leader at FCCC.

Bo Tate, back-up team leader at FCCC.

“This is my first training session ever, and I like it,” said Back-Up Team Leader Bo Tate. “They really break stuff down for you to help you become a better person and build you up. My greatest takeaway from this experience is both teamwork and cutting out wasted time on the assembly line. It really has given me a lot of courage to want to become a full-time team leader.”

In addition to becoming better leaders for their teams, the employees of FCCC have the added benefit of knowing their work is going to something greater than a recycling bin. Chad remarked that the team leaders love knowing where the filters are headed with W|W.

It adds a personal aspect to their training, knowing that they are impacting people worldwide. I think it really encourages them about what we’re doing as a company.
— Chad Ridings

“It’s a really good feeling to know the impact this has and the amount of people this helps out,” said Team Leader and Production Assembler Amber Dover. “Usually when we do a training like this, it doesn’t go anywhere. We have pieces that we put together and then take apart to do the same thing again later. But with this, you build it and it’s actually going to a good cause.”

Great things are happening at FCCC. Not only are teams being empowered to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, but they are making an incredible impact on their global community. The momentum of the FCCC filter builds have been picking up so quickly, that more and more employees are being included in the trainings beyond team leaders alone. Other organizations under Daimler Trucks North America are also looking into incorporating the W|W filter build into their training sessions throughout DTNA.

Chad Ridings told us with a laugh that the filter builds just keep getting better and better, reflected in the teams’ enthusiasm and desire to do better. Britt Bernhardt also shared more of the positive impact these trainings are having on his teams, and what this means for the future of FCCC, DTNA, and W|W as a whole:


It’s empowered our team leaders in particular to think outside the box; they take ownership of the processes that are within their control and driving continuous improvement. It’s empowering them to take ownership of what happens in their area, not just on the production or material side of things, but they’re really getting buy-in from their team members. They’re really trying to eliminate the waste in the process. In the long run, it improves efficiency for the plant and it improves morale in the teams.

At Daimler Trucks North America, we always strive and look for opportunities for community outreach. The opportunity W|W has given us to work with them - along with the elements of training for our team members - it’s really been a win-win for both organizations. I can’t stress enough how it’s impacted FCCC. I’m really glad we have the opportunity to work with W|W.


Our friends and partners at FCCC are changing the game not only in their own company, but all around the world as thousands of people will be receiving clean water thanks to their efforts. The W|W team was amazed and excited to witness the enthusiasm that surrounded this innovative filter experience. Our filter build team is beyond thrilled to share this same model with other partners and grow the impact of the Filter Build program tenfold.


“It was such a fun and rewarding experience for us at Wine To Water to see how FCCC took on the filter build experience and really developed a unique model to fit their specific company needs for training,” said Filter Build Manager Whitney Hendley. “That is the beauty of this program. It can really be adapted to meet the needs of our partners while also making a huge impact for clean water. We are honored to work with FCCC and DTNA and look forward to growing this partnership!”

W|W is constantly inspired by outside-the-box thinkers like the community at FCCC. We are so grateful for their involvement with our organization and we are excited to see what they think of next to improve their local and global community.

Interested in hosting a filter build big or small? Check out our filter build page for more information!