Employee Spotlight: Russ Dunton & Jason Maneke Make an Environmental Impact

Russ Dunton & Jason Maneke

Jason (left) and Russ received the Indiana Governor’s Award in 2011 for their branch’s environmental efforts. “I had to wear a suit, so it was a big deal,” Jason joked.

Russ Dunton and Jason Maneke may be two of the most passionate people at Leggett & Platt. Both work at our branch in Kendallville, Indiana. Both exude excitement when they talk about their jobs. Both invest significant time and energy in their facility, the environment, and the intersection of those worlds.

Russ and Jason support a facility with 85 folks who work hard and stay put – the average employee tenure is 16.5 years! Their efforts have demonstrated how a single facility can make a large, ongoing impact on the environment.

Kendallville is a wire-forming business that supplies materials to the bedding and furniture industries. Russ currently serves as Branch Manager and has previous experience in engineering, IT, and machine design. Jason may wear the title Human Resources Manager, but he also oversees their safety, environmental, and continuous improvement efforts. Jason joined Leggett after being part of the plastics industry for many years.

How the branch found environmental success

Kendallville has taken great strides to reduce their environmental footprint since 2010, when they became one of Leggett’s first branches to participate in the Eco Initiative. While Russ and Jason may spearhead the efforts, they quickly deflect any credit for its success. Instead, they point to the entire workforce for embracing and driving the program. “Our employees really championed the Eco Initiative, and it has been a significant team effort,” Russ said.

Jason advocates the recycling program introduced in 2010 as one of their biggest environmental wins. In late 2009, the branch’s large dumpster was emptied twice per week, which generated significant waste. Within the first year of the Eco Initiative, the branch reduced waste by 75%, and the dumpster was emptied once every two weeks. By 2011, the dumpster was picked up only once per month!

The efforts don’t stop there. Currently the branch can boast an impressive zero-waste-to-landfill status. “Any garbage in our trash receptacles is restroom or lunchroom trash,” explained Jason. “And even that trash has somewhere to go; it’s incinerated and used to power the nearby GM plant. Also, any manufacturing parts in our waste stream are recycled or reused by other suppliers.”

And they’re still not finished. Russ embraces change and will never be satisfied with the status quo; he’s always looking for other ways to reduce waste and recycle. For example, a recent project included sealing the shipping docks to keep the facilities at a controlled temperature, which not only produced energy savings, but “happier, warmer employees” according to Jason. A future project may include switching to LED lighting throughout the buildings.

When caring for the environment became personal

The entire branch certainly cares about the environment and takes steps to preserve it. But that concern exists at a deeper, more personal level for many employees. “When an employee tells me their child started recycling at home, it’s very rewarding to me,” Jason said. “That kind of engagement really ignited with the start of the Eco Initiative. They support this program. It matters to them.”

The surrounding community has been affected by Kendallville’s efforts as well, as the branch recently donated all funds from recycling aluminum cans to Habitat for Humanity. “This kind of donation wouldn’t be possible without individual efforts and contributions from our employees,” Russ said.

Russ enjoys his job because he gets to work with such good-hearted people. “I love witnessing people rise up to their potential. Everyone at this branch gives 100% each day – in their roles and beyond.” Russ has also learned to listen to his employees. “The greatest resource I have is my staff,” he said. “They make things happen around here. I simply make sure they have what they need.”


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.