Although Brazil is considered one of the world’s most promising markets, its volatile economy has proven frustrating for many businesses. According to Eric Rhea, President of Leggett’s Bedding Group, “Establishing a business in Brazil can be risky, but managing a successful business there can be even more challenging. After years of fighting unfavorable conditions, we’ve recently turned a corner and want to seize the opportunities we’ve developed.”
“We found the kind of leader who confronts such difficulties head on with Gustavo Lemos,” said Eric. Gustavo joined Leggett in November 2014 as the South America President over Leggett & Platt de Brasil, a facility in Sorocaba with 305 employees that manufactures residential furniture and components.
While Gustavo’s leadership is undisputed, he also brings to Leggett a unique and perhaps lesser-known skill-set: swimming and scuba diving. The former competitive swimmer is always looking for spare time to get back into the water.
When it comes to business, though, Gustavo wastes no time. Since being hired, he’s made significant strides in adapting to a rocky economic environment while strengthening the branch’s potential. His vision for Leggett in Brazil is clear: grow the business.
Immediate Actions, Immediate Results
One of Gustavo’s first steps was to hire additional employees. “By expanding our workforce,” he said, “we were able to increase production capacity and grow sales by 30% in January and February.”
Gustavo’s plan for immediate growth also includes strengthening bonds with existing customers. “To provide first-class service to our customers, we are implementing ‘out of the shelf’ delivery,” Gustavo explained. “Nine times out of ten, we’ll be able to deliver products the day after orders come in.”
Additionally, Gustavo emphasizes product quality. “Several initiatives have made our quality assessment more robust and focused. This led to a significant decrease in our customer complaints. I’m proud to say that this February, complaints were at an all-time low.”
Future Opportunities for Growth
Gustavo continues to evaluate long-term options for future growth in the business. A significant opportunity is to keep investing the workforce. “Our people have really responded to recent training in safety procedures and Lean Manufacturing techniques,” Gustavo said. “More employees are taking ownership of responsibilities and morale is up.”
He also plans to keep open communication lines with branch employees. “I want them to be engaged and aware of how we are doing by sharing our recent performance, evaluating current projects and detailing future goals.”
Another exciting opportunity is expanding the business into Northeastern Brazil to be closer to several large customers and benefit from regional tax incentives. If plans go accordingly, the new operation will be in place next year.
Finally, Gustavo wants to further emphasize Leggett & Platt’s brand with consumers, which would ideally trigger increased sales and better margins. “A larger presence in the market and targeted visits to our customers would make us a household name,” he explained. “At the end of the day, we want people to ask specifically for Leggett & Platt springs in their mattresses.”
About the Author
Good conversation–there’s nothing better. I’ve always been a fan of people and the stories they tell. As a Talent Advisor for Leggett & Platt, I get to hear good ones every day when I’m listening to our candidates’ stories as I get to know them during the hiring process.
When I’m not at work, I enjoy photography–telling my own story from behind a camera lens. I’ve also been known to write a poem or two, which stems from a long-held interest in creative writing. After dreaming up wild characters and fantastical plots as a kid, I guess I just couldn’t keep my ideas in my head any longer. Someday you should ask me about Chester the Mini Dragon.