Employee Spotlight: How an Engineer and His Team Built a Startup Electronics Lab (And What’s in Store for the Future)

Life is about taking risks, and a startup can be just that. When Eric Miller, Electronics Engineering Manager at L&P, was hired to launch an Electronics Lab for our Adjustable Bed Group in Kansas City, MO, he knew he would be in for a challenge. Eric had been working on his master’s degree in Engineering Management when he was contacted by Leggett. “As part of my coursework,” he said, “I had done a lot of in-depth studies on startup companies and entrepreneurs, and I found the idea of starting something from the ground up very appealing.”

Eric took the risk and joined L&P in April 2016, ready to embrace a “different kind of challenge.” Eric has always been interested in management, but at the same time, he considers himself an engineer at heart. “With this opportunity,” he said, “I saw a chance to jump into a management role while still be a part of the design process. I just couldn’t pass it up.”

Electronics Lab

Eric (left) with Patrick Millar, Senior Software Engineer for the Electronics Lab.

Growth + Innovation

The Adjustable Bed Group has experienced significant growth within the last several years. Historically, the idea of an adjustable bed has been perceived by many consumers as merely a hospital bed for the home, but over time, that perception has changed. “Technology has successfully infiltrated the bedroom,” Eric added. “I have a TV and a laptop in my bedroom at all times, and I think many others do too. Now, when consumers see an adjustable bed, they don’t just see a hospital bed; they see a device that will help them to sleep better at night and make their bedroom more useful during the day.”

The new Electronics Lab lends itself to a variety of research and development opportunities. The on-site engineers and technicians spend their days researching new technology that will enrich customers’ lives and hopefully improve their quality of sleep. They also work to develop new products. “Our ultimate goal is to take products from concept to production,” Eric explained.

Adjustable Bed

An adjustable bed going through a bit of research and development.

The freedom to create is very exciting for Eric and his team. But the challenge goes beyond invention. “I think a better word for what we do is innovation,” Eric stated. “The distinction lies in the execution of the idea. To innovate, we can’t just come up with new ideas; we must put those ideas to use in a way that is profitable to the company. That is the real challenge and how this lab will hopefully be able to bring added value to L&P.”

What’s next?

Eric and his new team are working towards launching their first product by the end of the summer. “Currently we are expanding Leggett’s two key technologies: LPSense and LPConnect,” he said. “We’re working on several ideas that will broaden the market appeal of these technologies.”

Additionally, Eric and his team have several new technologies in the research phase right now. “We want to help people sleep better and ultimately improve their overall health. We also want to make the bedroom smarter and integrate with other smart devices around the home. The bedroom of the future is coming, and we want it to come from Leggett.”

About the Author

As Talent Advisor for Leggett & Platt, I have the privilege of helping people take risks in their careers. I am responsible for finding top quality candidates who will fit into the culture we offer at L&P. Communication, problem solving, and creativity make up a huge part of my role.

In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, traveling, and did I mention traveling?! My personal and professional life has allowed me the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the United States and parts of Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Some people get a “runner’s high,” but I get a “traveler’s high” every time I book my next adventure. Did I mention I once traveled around the country for 44 weeks straight?

Employee Spotlight: How a Trade Show Manager is Engineered to Flow

Selfless, lively, and zealous perfectly describe the personality of the Exhibit Solutions Manager Sharon Baird. She speaks with the same energy and joy while describing her children and grandchildren as she does while detailing her day-to-day at L&P.

Sharon Baird in her bright and colorful office space.

Sharon’s colorful office walls showcase her keen ability to organize!

As Exhibit Solutions Manager, she serves as a project management resource to others at L&P who use her help. She designs and procures trade show items such as backdrops, tables and chairs, and table coverings. She also assists with trade show strategy, like developing advertising, press releases, sponsorships, and an overall budget. When executing trade shows, Sharon travels a lot for the job – sometimes up to 3 weeks at a time. Continue reading

New Year, New Perspectives – Cooper Smith

It’s a new year, folks, and we’ve got some new faces at L&P! During the past few weeks, we’ve been introducing you to several of our most recent hires and their thoughts on the year ahead.

Meet Cooper Smith, an Internal Auditor at L&P. He started with us in December!

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What brought you to Leggett?
I was an Internal Audit Intern at L&P during the summer of 2016. I got to travel to our branches in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Canada, and Utah. Since I enjoyed my internship very much, I applied for a full-time position and started as Internal Auditor after I graduated in December. The atmosphere here is very cool – friendly and laid-back.

What’s something surprising about you?
I volunteer with my church every Wednesday night by leading a small group of teenage guys. I participated in a small group as a high school student, and it was very foundational for me during those years. So, leading a small group and giving back has been very near and dear to my heart.

What’s your biggest goal for 2017?
Coming into a new job, I simply want to learn all that I can. Being young and fresh out of college, I have an incredible opportunity to learn and soak up all I can from my colleagues. Additionally, I would love to go to Europe at some point; I’m not sure if I’ll get there this year, but someday!

New Year, New Perspectives – Stephanie Stidham

It’s a new year, folks, and we’ve got some new faces at L&P! During the past few weeks, we’ve been introducing you to several of our most recent hires and their thoughts on the year ahead.

Meet Stephanie Stidham. She’s a Staff Tax Accountant, and she started her role at L&P in September.

Stephanie

What brought you to Leggett?
Leggett & Platt has a very good reputation as a place you can land long-term. I have a couple of friends who work at L&P, and they raved about the friendly atmosphere. I had been in Fort Bragg, North Carolina with my husband for 3 years, and when we decided to move back to this area, I applied at Leggett. Everyone is very down-to-earth and makes me feel welcome.

What’s something surprising about you?
As a mother of two, I care about products that are safe and inexpensive. So, I sell a line of natural cleaning products designed to be toxin-free and affordable. My staple is a microfiber cloth that helps with cleaning – I only use water with it and don’t need to have a lot of chemicals in my house!

What’s your biggest goal for 2017?
In the Tax Department, everyone keeps telling me it’ll take about a year to get the hang of things. So, I want to keep working to understand my role and how it changes through an entire tax and accounting cycle.

New Year, New Perspectives – Katherine Salgado

It’s a new year, folks, and we’ve got some new faces at L&P! Over the next few weeks, we’re introducing you to several of our most recent hires and their thoughts on the year ahead.

Meet Katherine Salgado, our Employee Relations Assistant in Human Resources. She started with L&P in October.

Katherine Salgado

What brought you to L&P?
I guess you could say my family is a “Leggett family.” My mom and dad used to work at Branch One (one of Leggett’s branches that manufactures coil mattress units). I pursued an international business degree in college, and I’ve always loved that Leggett has an international focus while still having a central location in my hometown.

What is something surprising about you?

I used to be a nanny, and it allowed me to travel on an amazing trip to Turks and Caicos. I still keep in touch with the family I worked for and loved the opportunity while it lasted.

What is your biggest goal for 2017?

I want to get back into running. I’ve completed one marathon, which was a huge accomplishment for me. I’ve also completed 8 half marathons, but then I stopped running. So, I’d love to get back into running shorter distances. Maybe if I sign up for a 5K, I’ll be motivated to get back into it!

New Year, New Perspectives – Katrina Richards

It’s a new year, folks, and we’ve got some new faces at L&P! Over the next few weeks, we’re introducing you to several of our most recent hires and their thoughts on the year ahead.

Meet Katrina Richards. She’s Leggett’s Assistant General Counsel & Litigation Attorney, and she started with us in September.

Katrina Richards

What brought you to L&P?
In law school, I studied corporate law and business law. After several years of doing tort law, I wanted to finally practice what I had learned. I’m originally from New Mexico, but there is something about the green landscapes and the people in Southwest Missouri that I absolutely love. Leggett has always been considered a great place to work, so when a litigation position opened, I knew I had to apply for it. I’m so glad I did.

What is something surprising about you?
I have been performing with the Siblings Improv group at JB’s in Joplin, Missouri and a few private functions. In the past, I have also been in two musicals: South Pacific and Godspell.

What is your biggest goal for 2017?
We have a group of employees at Corporate who play soccer over the lunch hour. I plan on playing soccer with them as soon as it warms up to help me train for a 6-mile race. I would also like to make it to a beach (any beach!) this year with my family.