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Keith Leitner

Keith A. Leitner is a lecturer in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee. In his role at the Graduate and Executive Education area, Keith has created and is the Lead Faculty on several programs including Lean Enterprise Systems Design Institute, Lean for Shop Floor Operations, Lean + TOC Enterprise, Lean Maintenance Repair and Overhaul, Lean Applied to Business Processes, the Air Force Lean Black Belt Certification Program, Lean for Hospital Based Healthcare, Lean for Scheduled and Ambulatory Healthcare, Lean for the Operating Room, and all of the Air Force Lean Healthcare Programs.  Keith is also President and Owner of Leitner Consulting Group and an Advisor with Liker Lean Advisors, LLC.

Prior to his work at UT and in his Consulting and Advising roles, Keith has worked with numerous organizations in various industries such as Shipbuilding (Non-repetitive Manufacturing), Ship Repair (both private and government), Aircraft Repair (both private and government) and many various forms of manufacturing ranging from one-off products (tool and die industry) to extremely short takt manufacturing (appliance industry).  A frequent speaker at lean conferences, Keith is especially known for application expertise (specializing in adapting Lean tools and techniques to fit a particular industry) and developing the Lean Organization and Culture to support these philosophies.  Throughout his consulting and advising career and since joining the faculty at UT, Keith has worked with numerous organizations, including military and defense organizations (Air Force and Navy), large private sector organizations such as Northrop Grumman and United Technologies, small private companies such as Southern Steel & Wire, Marley Electric Heating and Peerless Pump, and has worked with healthcare organizations such as the U.T. Medical Center, Mary Washington Hospital, Montreal Children’s Hospital, Summit Medical and many others.

Keith began his career in retail and held many key leadership positions with two large Grocery Chains – including General Manager and Operations Specialist for the chain.  Following his 10 years in retail, Keith was introduced to Lean by United Technologies in the early 1990’s.  Through designing and implementing Lean Cells at his facility in Bennettsville, SC, Keith’s work led to that location being considered the “showcase facility” within his organization and soon became an example through hosted plant tours to assist others from around the world.   Following his work with United Technologies, Keith began the Continuous Improvement Program for Marley Electric Heating (Appliance OEM) – again quickly creating a showcase facility.  Recruited back into Automotive, Keith accepted a position as the Continuous Improvement Director for the North American Division at BTR Automotive (a large global Tier 1 Automotive Supplier).  In that position, he trained, developed and mentored Lean Experts charged with improving all aspects of the business.  During his time with BTR, Keith created a 3-week Lean Certification program and trained over 100 key leaders throughout all of BTR’s Global Organizations.  This position evolved to assume Global responsibility and Keith held the position of Vice President of Continuous Improvement and Quality Systems.  His work at BTR helped them become one of the most dominant players in their industry.  Keith received his B.A. in Psychology from Appalachian State University and was an Honor’s Graduate while receiving his M.S. in Organizational Leadership and Management from the University of North Carolina, Pembroke.


Healthcare, Operations Excellence


University of North Carolina, Pembroke, M.S., Organizational Leadership & Management

Appalachian State University, B.A., Psychology


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