Category Archives: Employee Spotlight

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.

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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Employee Spotlight: Matt Blunt’s No Dummy

Matt Blunt - Intro Photo

No one can test a mattress like Leggett & Platt’s International Technical Center (ITC). Discovering how beds will hold up to years of wear and tear is their full-time job. And no one at ITC is closer or more involved in testing than Matt Blunt (no relation to the former Missouri governor, though they have met).

I sat down with Matt for an interview, but it became immediately and awkwardly apparent that he’s not a talker. In fact, I had to get most of my information from his managers and co-workers. Continue reading

Employee Spotlight: National ADDY Gold Winner Offers L&P Some Creative Inspiration

Matt Heflin drinks tea from a bright red, bulbous teapot. He doesn’t sit at his desk; he stands. Occasionally he perches on a tall metallic stool. His office lights are off but a tiny bit of sunlight peeks through his window.

He’s in his creative zone.

As a Graphic Designer for Leggett & Platt’s Creative Services, Matt partners with a team of artists and designers who form our internal advertising agency.

Hired in April 2014, Matt is still relatively new in his role, but his creative nature goes back many years. His longtime devotion to music, passion for ceramics, and love for painting led him to study Fine Art at Pittsburg State University, where he earned a degree in Commercial Graphics and Graphic Design. In college, he also received national recognition, winning the Student Gold Award from the American Advertising Association.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

In a word: projects. I design pieces of art for customers who are trying to build their brand, promote an event, or sell a product. I usually have about seven projects going at once, all of which vary in urgency. I constantly coordinate with the clients – asking them for more direction on the materials, trying to get artwork narrowed down, or seeking approval on finished items.

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Company Spotlight: It’s All About Location at Switzerland’s Spühl

Situated in the picturesque village of Wittenbach, Switzerland, Spühl benefits from both a great physical location and its location within the structure of Leggett & Platt. As part of the Residential Furnishings segment, Spühl provides the machines necessary to create many of Leggett’s own bedding components.

Spühl resides in Wittenbach, Switzerland.

The countryside around Spühl in Wittenbach, Switzerland.

Like a Swiss watch

When asked about the culture at Spühl, Roger Straessle, Vice President of International Sales, said, “Our employees are very precise and reliable, like a Swiss watch. They’re encouraged to make decisions within their work responsibilities, creating a sense of trust and motivation.”

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Employee Spotlight: Introducing Gustavo Lemos from Sorocaba, Brazil

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.”

Gustavo comes to Leggett with an engineering background, an MBA, and years of experience as an Operational Director with 3M.

Gustavo Lemos (center) comes to Leggett with an engineering background, an MBA, and many years of experience as an Operational Director for 3M.

“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. Continue reading

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.

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Company Spotlight: Work Furniture

Work Furniture in a RowLeggett & Platt is North America’s leading independent manufacturer of office furniture parts. If your office chair tilts or swivels, there’s a good chance that mechanism came from L&P. But how did Leggett & Platt grow to become a giant in the office furniture industry? It began in 1984, with the acquisition of Gordon Manufacturing.

Big Opportunities

Gordon Manufacturing, out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, manufactures chair controls and steel bases for office furniture. When L&P acquired the company, it did so in an effort to broaden its sofa mechanism business. But the acquisition proved a success in its own right, and David Haffner, current CEO of Leggett & Platt, was tasked with expanding the office furniture business. He soon became president of the newly formed Office Components Business Unit (OCBU). Continue reading

Employee Spotlight on Sonia Smith: Fanning the Flame of Continuous Improvement

At Leggett & Platt, we care about finding a better way to do things. The whole company puts a priority on quality and continuous improvement, but some businesses, like our Automotive Group, have to meet extra high standards. “Customers expect their products to be free of defects,” explained Mitch Dolloff, Automotive Group VP. This requires rigorous improvement to designs, processes, and materials.

Perhaps no one embodies quality and continuous improvement in Automotive more than Sonia Smith. Armed with technical expertise, industry insight, and an incandescent personality, she’s the “go-to person for manufacturing and business process improvement,” according to Mitch. Based in South Wales, Sonia has been the Director of Quality and Program Management for our European automotive operations since 2006.

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