Category Archives: Employee Spotlight

Quick Q&A with Director of Quality and Lean/CI

Silvia Wixson recently assumed an expanded role as Director of Quality Assurance & Lean/CI for US Spring. We spoke to her about her career, as well as her approach to supporting L&P’s operations teams and customers.

1. What led you to pursue a quality assurance position?

When I was selecting my education program, the enthusiasm of the faculty at Pittsburg State University made me take a closer look at earning my degree in engineering technology. Early in my career, I began to focus on Quality and Continuous Improvement (CI) as I worked through Process, Manufacturing, and CI responsibility roles. These opportunities all provided a strong foundation for where I am today.

Over time, I’ve learned the importance of setting yourself and your team up for a continual state of evolvement. Regardless of the role I have today, there’s always a set of processes I can improve upon to achieve higher greatness.

2. What do you find most rewarding about the work that you do? 

We always focus on quality from the top down. It’s very rewarding to be in a position to engage and empower L&P teams to solve problems collaboratively and avoid in-silo activities. I love seeing our folks shine during quality reviews, which allow them to share best practices with their peers and BU leadership.

Success is when we provide our teams the proper tools and structure to address and resolve whatever comes at them. Another aspect that I enjoy is being able to work closely with other employees who have unique expertise such as our Product Development and Manufacturing Engineers. By collaborating as a team, we’re able to develop robust solutions for both our internal teams and external customers.

3. What’s something surprising about you?

Coming from Paraguay, I wasn’t exposed to country music as I grew up. Many of my friends and family find it surprising how much I love this music genre. I consider it an accomplishment that I’ve been able to convert my better half, Todd Wixson, into an avid Chris Stapleton fan!

Comfort Connect Team Spotlight: Ashton McGehee

Our new LP Comfort Connect technology provides a unique platform for delivering smart, customizable products to our customers. However, this innovation would never have been possible without the dedicated work of our Comfort Connect team. They collaborated for several years to find unique solutions, improve processes, and differentiate our company in the marketplace through the development of this technology. Today we shine a light on just one of those team members. 

Ashton McGehee began her career at Leggett in 2017, when she was hired as a Product Documentation Intern. That opportunity taught her a lot about our company and our products, as she designed and illustrated user manuals and operating guides. Having since accepted a full-time position as an Industrial & Graphic Designer, her project scope has expanded to include component design, concept animations, and assembly videos as well.

Ashton’s supervisor, impressed with her dedication and design skills, recommended her to join the development team of L&P’s new Comfort Connect™ technology – proprietary hardware and software which are integrated to support L&P’s newest adjustable bed product. All movements and feature sets of the bed are controlled through the LP Comfort Connect™ app, which was also developed by the team.

For her role, Ashton was tasked with designing and illustrating the assembly guide, remote guide, and instructional manual for the bed. She also designed the remote, icons and branding for the app.

“I’m really proud of the screenshots I designed for the app store and the icon for the app itself,” says Ashton. “I’ve never worked on a mobile application professionally before. It was really interesting, and I definitely learned a lot.”

Designing the app icon was a particular challenge because the team wanted a design that would be a true reflection of the product’s user benefits and future capabilities. Ultimately, Ashton and Scott Clark, Director of Marketing + Creative, combined several of their ideas to form the final design. The icon incorporates a house, which they felt represents the way Comfort Connect™ technology allows the consumer to tailor a key part of every home, the bedroom, to meet their specific needs.

Ashton has enjoyed having the opportunity to participate on this project, because it allowed her to design in new formats and to follow a new product from concept through development. However, she also appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with the team.

“Everyone I work with has been very professional and super enthusiastic about this project,” shares Ashton. “I can really thrive in such a positive and energetic work environment.”

Russ Dunton Celebrates 25 Years at L&P!

Russ Dunton began his career at L&P in 1996, when he was hired as the Manager of Tooling and Maintenance in Kendallville, IN. In late January, he proudly celebrated 25 years with L&P! When asked what he appreciates most about working here, he immediately gave credit to the challenging work environment and our people.

“Leggett & Platt has provided many advancement opportunities without having to change employers, which is often the case for engineers,” says Russ. “New responsibilities maintain my interest and keep the work fresh.”

In his most recent position as Director of Central & West Coast Operations, he works closely with teams from L&P Furniture Division in City of Industry, CA and Kendallville, IN. He admits that it sounds like a mission statement to focus on supplying customers with a great product at a fair price, all while providing excellent customer service. However, he enjoys supporting the work that makes that happen.

“My typical day is a mixture of helping my staff perform and address operational, sales, and financial tasks associated with operations,” says Russ.  “No two days are alike, and there are many interesting challenges along the way.”

More than anything, Russ appreciates the great people he works with and treats them like a family. He encourages his teams to get involved in new projects and to grow in their success.

“In my experience, L&P embraces those who have aptitude and interest. Opportunity is available to those who work hard and look for it.”

Part 2: Teams & Tech at Super Sagless

As we shared last week, employees at L&P’s Super Sagless and Omega facilities in Tupelo, Mississippi produce the mechanisms that make many household chairs recline or swivel. their jobs are safer, cleaner, and easier due to the technologies they utilize there  including robotics!

However, for many of their employees, their supportive culture is just as important. Team members genuinely care about each other — and take pride in helping their coworkers succeed. To learn more, we asked several more employees to describe, in their own words, what they love most about working at Super Sagless:

Jasmine Montalvo has worked as a Quality Control Auditor at Super Sagless for 2 years. Her role is to check the accuracy and tolerance of parts against their blueprints. She conducts internal audits every month using the NCMR and LP9000 systems. “Throughout my day, I check welds, part dimensions, the accuracy of punches, and watch for unsafe burrs on parts,” says Jasmine. “It’s my responsibility to ensure all our parts are being produced consistently. I enjoy being able to interact with my coworkers and to help them improve their processes and productivity.”

Mary Heard has worked on the Janitorial Staff at Super Sagless for 6 years. “I love the environment at this facility,” she says. “There is very little pressure from my managers, and they trust me with ensuring the facility is clean and disinfected. I take a lot of pride in the fact that I am helping to save lives.”

Joscelyn Nunn has enjoyed her position as an Assembly Table Operator for over 4 years. ” I’ve always liked putting things together and using my hands to craft,” says Joscelyn. “Being on the assembly side of the plant fits me perfectly. The work environment here is very friendly and our management is understanding, too.”

Part 1: Teams and Tech at Super Sagless

Employees at L&P’s Super Sagless and Omega facilities in Tupelo, Mississippi produce the mechanisms that make many household chairs recline or swivel. However, their jobs are safer, cleaner, and easier due to the technologies they utilize there  including robotics!

“Manufacturing jobs can be dirty and exhausting,” says Dustin Manning, IT administrator and technician for both facilities. “However, the welding robots, riviting machines, and automatic presses we use do the difficult work for our employees.”

The robotics also contribute to ensuring the safety of employees. There’s less risk of injury when using a robot than when the same process is completed manually. Social distancing is simple too. The robots are arranged in pods with at least 12 feet of open space surrounding them.

The jobs available at Super Sagless and Omega are certainly unique. To learn more, we asked several employees to describe, in their own words, what they love most about their job:

Jade Montalvo works as an assembler at Super Sagless. Each day, she’s assigned to a new area of the facility. “I’ve been able to learn all of the manufacturing processes and components we use here,” she says. “It’s also allowed me to build relationships with all my coworkers. I enjoy being able to support them wherever I’m needed most.”

Maria Hamlin has worked as a Ring Machine Operator for three years. “I enjoy working alone with my machine and the repetitiveness of the job,” says Maria. “It’s relaxing. Our supervisors support us because we all want the same thing — to meet our production goals every day. My ring machine makes that much easier.”

Latasha Henderson has been a Robot Operator at Super Sagless for over 6 years. “I love the independence of this job. I move at my own pace, set my own daily production schedule, and work around friends who really care about me,” says Latosha. “I always enjoy some friendly competition with my partner on the sister robot, too.” These sister robots work side by side to produce the same parent part.

Omega and Super Sagless are both hiring for roles in their manufacturing facilities! You can apply for open positions at Omega here and Super Sagless here, both located in Tupelo, Mississippi. Keep following our blog to learn more about the positions and culture offered at their facilities.  

Making a Difference, One Mask at a Time

When Deb Veronda learned about the shortage of masks during the COVID-19 crisis, she got right to work. Deb is the HR Assistant at our Sponge Cushion facility in Morris, Illinois, and she wanted to help make the office a safe and healthy place to work.

“When the pandemic began,” said Deb, “all I kept hearing on the news were reports of shortages of personal protective equipment. I knew I had to get busy sewing to protect those dear to me.”

Deb has used her own resources to make hundreds of cloth masks – not only for her coworkers but also for her family, friends, and healthcare workers in her local community.

“I love to quilt in my spare time, so I have quite a stash of material. I began pulling fun fabrics with the hopes of lifting the spirits of the tireless souls working on the frontlines.”

To recognize her efforts, Deb earned L&P’s SafeGuard Leadership Award for going above and beyond to look out for others.

And Deb’s outlook is inspiring. “I have always believed in kindness,” she said. “If we could all be kind and take care of one another, this world would be a much better place.”

Thank you, Deb!

Choosing Positivity Amidst Change

We talked to Cathy Johns from our Corporate HR team about working through various seasons of change throughout her career at L&P.

Can you tell us about your role at L&P?

I began my Leggett career as a general clerk almost 35 years ago. My dad was head of transportation and I’d help out in the offices during the summer. As the company grew, a lot of doors were opened to me.

Eventually, I earned my current role as the Qualified Benefits Manager in HR. Our group provides administration for retirement plans, as well as compliance and integration for all of L&P’s benefit plans.

This includes things like record keeping, calculation of benefits, assistance in setting up plans with payroll, processing paperwork, and communicating with enrolled participants. We also manage the administration of L&P’s Discount Stock Plan. All of this must be completed appropriately to ensure we aren’t being discriminatory and are maintaining compliance with a variety of laws and regulations.

A lot has changed over the years. At one point, the company had over 60 different benefit plans with many vendors due to all of the acquisitions we’d made. They eventually merged into 8 retirement plans, and we have a lot more employees taking advantage of them now.

You’ve obviously experienced a lot of change firsthand. How do you maintain a positive outlook rather than focusing on uncertainty?

For me, it’s all about perspective. With a recent companywide meeting, our leaders spoke directly about change. But things have been changing for a long time. As a company, L&P has been through so many different permutations over the years. Having experienced it, I’m confident we’re just in another season of change.

It’s normal to have feelings of uncertainty. However, it’s more productive to focus on the things you can control. Do what you can do, put your best face on it, and keep moving forward.

What have you enjoyed most about working at L&P?

I love a challenge. Every role within our company comes with its own set of problems to work through — mine just happen to be about benefits. The position is a great fit for me because I get really excited about working in spreadsheets. If that’s all I had to do all day, I’d be a happy clam!

Most importantly though, I see many unique qualities woven through the heart of Leggett. They’re consistent, despite all the changes we’ve seen over the years. You can count on things to be done a certain way here. Decisions are always made with our employees in mind, with our customers in mind — and with doing the right thing in mind.

Q&A with a New Flooring Territory Manager

Dana Nevens was recently hired as a Territory Manager for our Flooring Products Division. We spoke with him about his first few months at L&P.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I’ve worked in the flooring industry for approximately 12 years. Most of those were spent in the hard-surface manufacturing side, which includes hardwoods and ceramic tile. Most recently, I had a national sales position with a relatively new company. I learned a lot from that job, but the schedule was very demanding for my family. I was looking for a change and learned about L&P. Since starting in August, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the customers in my territory — which includes Connecticut, Rhode Island, eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

2. How has the transition gone so far?

I was hired to replace Jon Thierfeld when he retired from L&P. His retailers were very comfortable with him because he’d been working with them for over 25 years. Thankfully, I was able to travel the field with him for several weeks before he left. This allowed him to share the ins and outs of his customers in great detail — I still refer to those notes on a daily basis. It really helped me to earn the trust of my customers and to ensure them I would put in the same effort as he had to make sure their needs are met.

Since Jon left, I’ve found my sales support team here in Fort Worth to be just as accessible. I’ll never have all the answers, but they’re always a phone call away as I learn more about L&P’s culture and the way we do things.

3. What does a normal work day look like for you?

The majority of my week is spent connecting with as many of our customers as possible. I try to meet face-to-face whenever I can, so much of my time is spent in the car traveling to various parts of New England.

I enjoy introducing retailers to new products they’ve never seen before. If they’re an existing customer, I also evaluate their sales programs to determine what’s working, what’s not working, and make changes to increase their profits. The rest of my days are spent responding to calls or emails from customers who need to place orders and get answers to technical product questions. Every day is unique and I really like the challenge.

4. Has anything surprised you about L&P?

From prior interactions with the company, I only knew L&P as a flooring and underlayment supplier. When I learned the scope of our products and everything our company is involved in, it was very encouraging. On my team in the Northeast, it isn’t unusual to talk to employees who have been here for over 20 years — something which is very unique in this industry. It speaks well for the company and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Quick Q&A with a Supply & Demand Planner

Corey Turnbow is the Director of Supply & Demand Planning at Elite Comfort Solutions (ECS), a global leader in foam technology acquired by Leggett & Platt this past January.

Corey, who joined the ECS team 5 months ago, plays an essential role in ECS’ supply chain.

1. What does a normal day in your job look like for you?

A normal day consists of helping our facilities ensure that we have the right amount of product to support customer orders. On any given day, I balance my time supporting our operations, customer service, and shipment teams.

From a long-term perspective, I am driving a full Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) process across ECS to help drive strategic plans around balancing our demand and supply for future growth.

2. What do you enjoy most?

I really enjoy the variety, and that my job requires me to be a problem solver. I have to look at the immediate short-term needs of ECS while also planning for long-term growth.

3. What challenges you?

I work in a fast-paced environment, which is challenging and fun at the same time!

4. What do you enjoy most about working at ECS?

I enjoy the people around me. We are young and growing company with opportunities to become better every day. Our leadership team is really engaged and provides great support in helping us achieve our objectives.

How an Engineer is Helping to Revolutionize Mattress Manufacturing

Matt Smallwood peeks up from his computer monitor, breaking an afternoon trance from designing in SolidWorks. “Would you like to see what I’ve been working on for two years?” he asks.

And so, we leave his office and walk down to the shop floor to see the new Gribetz XT9 Stitch Bridge machine. Matt, a Research Engineer for L&P’s Global Systems Group (GSG), started in his role in 2011.

One of the challenges with this project was finding needles long enough to pierce through foam. The team got creative and made their own.

As he talks through the functionality of the machine, he quickly redirects any praise and instead highlights the collaborative efforts of the team. “I’ve learned so much from Michael James, our resident sewing expert, and Terry Myers, who led the project. This machine wouldn’t have been built without them.”

What is the Gribetz XT9 Stitch Bridge machine?

It’s a thread-based laminating machine introduced just this year by Gribetz International. In an industry accustomed to gluing together mattress comfort layers, this machine stitches them together with thread. Not only is thread more cost-effective than glue, it’s a better-quality product. Continue reading