Category Archives: Employee Spotlight

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.

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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

Machine Products: How A Commitment to Safety and Service Brings Success

When you walk through the doors of Machine Products (or Branch 79 as it’s also called), you’re instantly greeted with a down-to-earth warmth. From the friendly “hellos” exchanged on the production floor to the handshakes of a job particularly well done, pride is everywhere among the 90 employees at the facility.

The same sense of pride comes from branch leadership as well. Tom Wells, Jr., Division President, constantly commends his team for stepping up to the plate. “Unlike other Leggett branches that have a constant steady production flow, we do not know from month to month what type of work will come onto our schedule, but we take each day with great stride,” explained Tom.

Leggett & Platt has been a second home to Tom. After his father was hired by Leggett in 1974, Tom started performing janitorial duties during the summers as a teenager. Through the years, he spent most of his career in the Bedding Components Group. After years of hard work, he assumed the role of Division President for Machine Products in 2013.

An aerial shot of the expansive Machine Products facility in Carthage, Missouri.

An aerial shot of the expansive Machine Products facility in Carthage, Missouri.

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The Wide Reach of HFC International

Leggett & Platt’s Home Furniture Components division creates the mechanisms that make many household chairs recline or swivel. In fact, you probably have an item in your home that contains an HFC part! This division’s widespread reach wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of its international branches in China and Germany.

HFC in China

The International Home Furniture Components group has three branches in China, located in the cities of Jiaxing, Taizhou, and Huizhou. These three facilities handle everything from sales and engineering to production and distribution. This presents quite a challenge, given the large and diverse customer base IHFC serves, but the sales team travels internationally to work with customers so they get the products they need, when they need them.

“The China branches supply some of our major U.S. customers that have final assembly sites in China,” says Nick Cogan, Director of Integrated Business Planning. “They also ship directly to major U.S. customers and supply our international customers in Asia, Africa, and the EU.”

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Establishing Roots at L&P: Snapshots of Two Employees from Then and Now

1971: The first Starbucks was established and the cost of gas was $0.36 per gallon. It was also the year that Jerry Ralston began his career with L&P.

Jerry, fresh out of school, “just wanted to work.” For the past 45 years, he’s accomplished his goal. He joined Leggett as an employee at Carthage Spring, a facility which produces coil mattress units. In his first role, he cleaned boiling rooms (with actual dirt floors), tidied up bathrooms, and performed minor repairs. Many days, he says, he returned home looking like a coal miner.

He then worked in the Chromecraft department, where he monitored machinery and crated finished goods. After about seven years and wearing several hats, he was relocated to Phoenix, Arizona to work at our Phoenix Spring location.

In 1991, he was relocated back to Carthage Spring, where he now works as the Maintenance Superintendent. “I’ve really enjoyed seeing processes become more automated over the years,” Jerry said. “This job used to be extremely labor-intensive. It has been very rewarding to be a part of significant change at Leggett.”

When not at work, Jerry enjoys spending time outdoors with his family, playing golf, and fishing. In the next five years, he would love to retire and build a log cabin at the lake.

Kile (left) and Jerry inside the Carthage Spring facility.

Kile (left) and Jerry inside the Carthage Spring facility.

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Employee Spotlight: A Translator’s Journey from Colombia to Carthage

Liliana Rupp’s outlook on life is infectious. Her enthusiasm for her family, her work, and her community bleeds into everything that she does. She smiles as she talks through list of activities, which makes it seem as if she’s discovered a way to fit extra hours into the week. She speaks joyfully of her job, her upcoming test for U.S. citizenship, and her volunteer work with her church.

But she absolutely beams when she talks about her children. “The best job I ever had was being a parent.”

A single mother of two, Liliana permanently moved to the United States from her native Colombia to give her kids different opportunities than she had. After a brief time in New York, the family of three relocated to Carthage, Missouri, where Liliana spent time as a foreign exchange student. Currently she works as Translation Services Specialist at L&P, a role she has held for 4 years. Continue reading

Employee Spotlight: How an Engineer Turns Safety Issues into Opportunities for Improvement

It only takes a few minutes with Dian Rose to get a sense of her drive. You can quickly tell that she’s thinking several steps ahead, always with a strategy in mind. Even at home, Dian says she’s always motivated to find “work” for herself, whether through activities with her family or projects outdoors. That drive has led into her current role of Corporate Safety Manager & Engineer for Hanes Companies, where she uses her engineering background to manage the safety and environmental components at the facility.

Dian Rose specializes in compliance and improvement for Hanes.

Dian Rose specializes in compliance and improvement for Hanes.

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Employee Spotlight: How an IT Intern Makes His Mark in a Manufacturing Company

For proof that we hire some of the most talented and unique interns around, meet Charlie Kovacs.

By day, Charlie attends Missouri State University, where he’s wrapping up his senior year in a Computer Information Systems and Management program. By night, Charlie plays guitar in a garage punk band called The Scamps, and the ‘60s throwback group recently produced their first record.

On top of a busy college and music schedule, Charlie commutes an hour from Springfield, Missouri several days per week to work as an Information Technology (IT) Intern at Leggett & Platt’s Corporate Office in Carthage. Continue reading

Spotlight: How a Production Manager Keeps Operations Running Smoothly

South Africa.
Grenada.
Alaska.

These are a few of Shannon Vande Velde’s favorite places on earth. “I love browsing travel websites to see what places and packages look appealing…my husband and 11 year-old daughter like to give their input too.” When she isn’t travelling, Shannon works for Schukra North America as a Production Area Manager. The Leggett & Platt facility in Lakeshore, Ontario, Canada produces lumbar systems for the automotive industry, and Shannon co-directs production operations.

 

Before joining Schukra in 2002, she obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Windsor; in 2004, she obtained an MBA with a focus in operations management. Shannon began her career in accounting at a truck and engine manufacturing company. However, after finishing Six Sigma Black Belt training, she realized she had a passion for operations and moved into a production supervisor role.

What do you enjoy about working at Schukra of North America?

We have a great company culture. Our 450 employees here cover three shifts so we stay very busy. We shipped out over 2 million lumbar units in June alone! But—even with a heavy workload—our employees are upbeat, friendly, and cooperative with each other. We promote quality in our finished goods and strive to maintain a safe work environment, both of which enhance our culture. Continue reading

Spotlight: How an Engineer Kept an Open Mind and Found Her Life’s Work

Silvia Wixson loves a challenge — but she also loves making an impact on those around her. She found both in her current role: “Ever since I first learned about the company, I’ve been drawn to Leggett & Platt and wanted to be part it.”

Originally from Paraguay, Silvia settled in Pittsburg, Kansas with her husband and three children (who she’ll tell you keep her very busy with softball season in full swing) where she received her Master’s degree in Engineering Technology from Pittsburg State University. Through a combination of quality assurance and engineering roles with an automotive supplier, Silvia learned about lean manufacturing where she discovered her passion for continuous improvement.

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