Category Archives: Employee Spotlight

Perspective and Passion: Brandon Phothichack’s Career at L&P

From taking on new responsibilities to learning new skills, our colleagues have shown dedication and commitment to their careers. This month, we’re sharing some of their stories related to professional growth.

Brandon Phothichack started his career with Hanes Industries in Conover, North Carolina, nearly nine years ago as an Intra Winder/Machine Operator on the third shift. He worked in several roles over the three-and-a-half years he spent on the third shift before landing his first role on the day shift. Over the years, Brandon worked in Panel Cell and various other roles. He even cross-trained in other departments like shipping and receiving and offered assistance at Hanes Dye in Winston-Salem, NC.

This past year, Brandon took the position of Training Coordinator. In his new role, Brandon facilitates the job training process of new team members and transfers. He helps to ensure the transition to their new job is seamless with thorough training in the most current, accepted practices and quality. In addition, Brandon gets to conduct plant tours where he’s had the opportunity to meet many great people within L&P and the community.

“I still feel blessed and honored for this opportunity. Many people helped me along the way, including Leonard Ruggiero, Dee Sawyer, Steve Griffin, Steven Davis, and many long-time friends I’ve worked beside who told me to go for it.”

Brandon credits keeping perspective as a contributing factor to his success. When he can’t control what’s happening, he knows he can control his reaction to a situation. He offers the same advice to someone else facing decisions in their career or life.

“Go for it. It’s your time, and you will be great. Control your emotions, but allow yourself to show passion in your beliefs. Insert your beliefs, but always be kind. Show your worth. You got this.”

Outside work, Brandon enjoys golfing, playing paintball, and spending time with his friends and family, including his son, who recently enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He and his wife are getting used to being empty-nesters and catching up with their Airman through video chat.

Welcoming Change: Cari Southern’s Career at L&P

From taking on new responsibilities to learning new skills, our team members have shown dedication and commitment to their careers. This month, we’re sharing some of their stories related to professional growth.

Cari Southern started at Leggett & Platt 25 years ago in the accounting department of one of our manufacturing facilities. In her ten years at the branch, she served in various roles, with the last few years being the Division Controller. Cari then transferred to Corporate, working on Sales and Operations (S&OP) deployment and then the Customer and Product Profitability (CPP) initiative.

About eight years ago, Cari had the opportunity to become the Segment Controller for the Specialized Products and Furniture segments. In 2018, Cari transferred to the Automotive Business Unit as the Senior Director of Governance. Recently, her role was expanded to include Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP).

As the Senior Director of S&OP and Governance of Automotive, Cari and her team are responsible for rebuilding the sales and operations planning process and maintaining the integrity of the business processes, systems, and master data.

Cari credits her growth over the last 25 years to welcoming the inevitability of change and using those experiences to propel her career.

“Change can be very scary, but things are constantly changing. People are often hesitant to make a change for various reasons; probably the most frequent reasons are being comfortable or fearing you might not like a new opportunity. A mentor told me many years ago that change doesn’t have to be a one-way door – very few changes are something you can’t come back from, and if you dislike what you are doing, you can make another change. New experiences and increased knowledge opens more doors for the future.”

Cari hopes her story inspires others to take chances within Leggett, embrace change, and lean on the people around you who are invested in your success.

“L&P is a diverse, global company – and you can learn a lot working with and in the various business units. The leaders in the company can provide different perspectives and management styles. I have had great leaders who took a chance on me and gave me additional responsibilities that allowed me to excel in new roles. Take a chance on yourself and your development.”

Cari’s busiest and most important role is as a mom. If she is not at L&P, you can find her in her car, transporting her two boys, Chapman, 13, and Colton, 17, to their sporting events and cheering them from the sidelines.

Meet Demian Waller, Organizational Change Management Specialist

During February, we’re inviting our colleagues to share about life at Leggett, what they’re proud of, and what Black History Month means to them.

Meet Demian Waller, Organizational Change Management Specialist! Demian has been with us for one year and is part of our Change Management team.

What does a typical day at work look like for you, and what do you enjoy most about your role?

A typical day for me includes meeting with leadership teams from different departments, discussing changes coming to L&P, and sharing how our Change Management team can assist with the strategy, implementation, and execution of these changes.

I enjoy working with various teams and collaborating to reach a common goal. Change Management is important because it allows organizations to utilize proven methodologies and tools to ensure that any major changes are met with less resistance and higher success rates.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my two sons and their creativity, optimism, and zest for life.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

To me, Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of men and women of color who have contributed to the shaping of our great nation.

Internal Audit to Sustainability: Sarah Peterson’s Career at L&P

From taking on new responsibilities to learning new skills, our team members have shown dedication and commitment to their careers. This month, we’re sharing some of their stories related to professional growth.

Sarah Peterson started her career with L&P in July 2017 as an intern in Internal Audit. In December 2017, she joined the Internal Audit team full-time. She progressed within the department in various roles, most recently serving as the Fraud and Due Diligence Supervisor, where she investigated complaints from our Ethics Hotline.

In September, Sarah made a career transition and was promoted to Program Manager of the Sustainability team. Leaving the Internal Audit team and moving to a new department and role was bittersweet but exciting.

“Internal Audit was my home – I met my husband and some of my best friends there. I loved who I worked for and saying ‘goodbye’ was emotionally tolling. When I was asked to help the Sustainability team, I knew it was time to fly. I had gained so much knowledge and experience, and it was time to share it. I’ve been able to point back to systems, people, processes, and skillsets that I was privy to during my time with Internal Audit. I’m so thankful it was my foundation – the exposure and opportunities are unparalleled.”

In her new role, Sarah is helping to assist and strengthen L&P’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) processes to make them more consistent and reliable.

“I’ve been enjoying learning about things such as greenhouse gas emissions and our carbon footprint, as well as being behind the scenes of our Sustainability Report and working on compliance efforts pertaining to ESG regulations. I have never been busier!”

Looking back at her career, Sarah credits her willingness to step up and take on tasks as a catalyst for her professional growth.

“I’ve never waited for someone to ask me to do something. If I see that a need exists, whether it be a task, a project, help of some kind – I do it. I’ve always raised my hand, especially regarding cross-functional projects or opportunities that allow me to work with those I don’t normally get to. I’ve made many friendships and connections this way.”

Sarah hopes her journey inspires others to embrace change and pursue their goals.

“We all know growth happens within the discomfort. Have the confidence to know what you bring to the table, but also, and sometimes more importantly, the humility to know when you don’t have it all figured out. Ask the questions, offer insight, and remember we are all trying to get through life. Be kind.”

In life, Sarah’s most important title is mom. When she isn’t volunteering for the Women’s Employee Resource Group or working on sustainability goals, she spends time with her two-year-old son, Tuck.

“He is the craziest little boy, and I love every second of this climbing, bouncing, jumping, giggling, ‘mom-watch’ phase.”

Full Circle: Leonard Ruggiero’s Career at L&P

From taking on new responsibilities to learning new skills, our team members have shown dedication and commitment to their careers. This month, we’re sharing some of their stories related to professional growth.

Leonard Ruggiero began his career at L&P in 1992, first in a temporary role, before becoming a packing machine operator full-time at Hanes Industries in Conover, North Carolina. Throughout the years, Leonard took advantage of every opportunity to change jobs and learn new skills, including running each machine, working in shipping and receiving, and even participating in a supervisor training program.

In 2007, Leonard became a Program Manager at Hanes Geo in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he collaborated with the Idea Center and other partners to develop more efficient machine processes. After ten years, he took on the role of National Integration, overseeing all branch moves from start to finish, including implementing and training on all systems during acquisitions, as well as training new team members.

Today, Leonard is back where his journey began over 30 years ago at Hanes Industries in Conover, serving as the Plant Manager. In this role, Leonard has had the opportunity to reconnect with many of the people he worked with for 17 years on machines, in the warehouse, and management.

“Bringing the skills and tools I have learned over the years to an established team like we have in Conover is a great part of this role. We have always had a great team here, and leading them is a privilege.”

Throughout his career at Leggett, Leonard has had many mentors who helped guide him and craft his growth and belief in himself, including Jerry Greene, Samantha Howell, Bruce Cloninger, Guy Ruff, Brett Graff, and Zach Cox. He credits these mentors for believing in him and wanting him to succeed. They also instilled many lessons in him, but the advice that resonated most was fairness.

“My mentors told me that if you are fair across the board, you will sleep well at night. Making decisions that can impact people or businesses is hard, and if your goal is to be fair, you will find those choices a lot easier.”

Looking back at his career, Leonard offers this advice to those contemplating a move within Leggett:

“Put in the work with care and dedication, trust your knowledge, and listen to your mentors. For me, self-doubt was a barrier I had to break through, and I learned after many years that our team does not give opportunities to people they don’t feel are ready. I also realized that mentoring never stops, and I have been trying to pay it forward to those around me.”

In his personal life, Leonard loves spending time with his wife of 30 years and his 16-year-old daughter. He is a coach and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor, and when he’s not working on cars, he is trying to publish his second book.

Meet Carl Terry, Lead Person

During February, we’re inviting our colleagues to share about their roles, what their proud of, and what Black History Month means to them.

Meet Carl Terry! Carl is a Lead Person at one of our Elite Comfort Solutions (ECS) branches and has been with us for three years.

Tell us about work.

I am responsible for ensuring our packing production runs smoothly while maximizing productivity. I really enjoy working with my coworkers every day. We all come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives, which contributes to the quality of our work.

What are you most proud of?

My family.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month is a time to acknowledge the tribulations we have come through and recognize those who have pushed through those boundaries, allowing us to enjoy a better quality of life.

Efficiency and Safety: Bill Jiang’s Career at L&P

From taking on new responsibilities to learning new skills, our colleagues have shown dedication and commitment to their careers. This month, we’re sharing some of their stories related to professional growth.

Bill Jiang has been with L&P for more than 20 years and was one of the first three employees who helped build the riveting line when our branch in Jiaxing, China, was established in 2002. Throughout his career, Bill has been a champion of continuous improvement and keeping his colleagues safe. His it’s-never-too-late-to-learn attitude helped him take advantage of many training opportunities at L&P.

In 2006, Bill was working as a shift leader and underwent training to optimize the riveting line. After returning from training, the riveting line exceeded the daily capacity limit of 3,000 pieces. A year later, Bill became the supervisor of the riveting line, and under his leadership, riveting efficiency increased by 33%. He received “Excellent Employee” and “Excellent Shift Leader” awards many times.

In 2012, Bill became the production manager of the riveting line. In this role, he took managed more riveting lines, addressed capacity challenges, and supported staff management. His local government in Jiaxing recognized him as one of the “Outstanding Employees of Xiuzhou District.”

In 2018, Bill became the Senior Manager of the Production Department, becoming responsible for all production lines and for environmental health and safety. Two years later, Bill was promoted to Director of the Production Department, which is his current role. During his leadership, he has implemented many safety improvements, such as installing infrared foot pedals at the riveting lines to reduce finger-related work injuries, and was granted the “Advanced Safety Management Award” by his government in 2022.

We’re excited to see where Bill goes from here!

Meet Dee Sawyer, Operation Compliance Manager

During February, we’re inviting our colleagues to share about life at Leggett, what they’re proud of, and what Black History Month means to them.

First up, meet Dee Sawyer! Dee – Operation Compliance Manager at Hanes – has been with us for 24 years.

What does a typical day at work look like for you, and what do you enjoy most about your role?

I truly love what I do! I’m usually traveling to another state to ensure branches are following L&P procedures. I travel frequently. Last year, I was gone for half of the year.

I enjoy meeting new people, visiting different branches, and helping others. It’s important for the branches to know that they have support.  

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud that I’ve worked my way up at Hanes. I’ve had 12 positions, starting with a truck loader. I started on second shift as a truck loader and have worked in different departments and through different shifts. Approximately six years ago, I started helping on the integration team by training other branches, helping with branch moves, and assisting with acquisitions. My work ethic was noticed, as I traveled to different branches and the branches started requesting my assistance. I was offered a position on the integration team, and I’ve been advancing ever since!

My advice is to always be true to your work ethic. No matter how discouraged you get or feel your work is being overlooked, be patient because the right people will notice, and your time will come when it should – that’s God’s timing. What’s meant to be will be!

What does Black History Month mean to you?

For me, it’s a celebration of everything we overcame and will overcome. It’s recognizing everyone who’s made a difference to get us to where we are today. It’s a month that reminds me to continue letting my light shine bright through adversity.  

New Year, New Perspectives: Max Thorpe

To kick off 2024, we’re introducing you to several of our newest employees. Meet Max Thorpe, Human Resources Generalist for our Work Furniture business!

What brought you to L&P?

I had a major injury at the beginning of the year, which landed me at the foot of L&P. I was not knowledgeable about the global brand, but on a local level, I understood how significant the business was to the area, and I knew how many opportunities L&P could provide for me.

What are you enjoying about your role so far?

I love interacting with my team. I am all about the people, and I love my daily PPE (personal protective equipment) walks. They allow me to spend time talking to the team, learning about them, and building relationships. I also really enjoy the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) aspect of my role and being able to learn the standards of the manufacturing industry.

What’s something unique about you?

Even though I currently live in Michigan, I am a HUGE Philadelphia Eagles fan, and I lived in Pennsylvania for the last six years.

Have you set any personal or professional goals for yourself?

My professional goals are to complete my master’s program at Eastern Michigan University and complete my SHRM-CP (Society for Human Resource Management—Certified Professional) and OSHA certifications. My personal goals are to buy a home and travel to another country!

Our four company values are Put People First, Do the Right Thing, Do Great Work Together, and Take Ownership and Raise the Bar. What does it mean to you to Take Ownership and Raise the Bar?

To me, taking ownership is another way of taking accountability—being handed an issue or a project and developing it from beginning to end. Raising the bar means not settling—keep innovating or problem solving. I truly feel that the team we have in West Michigan lives up to these standards daily.

New Year, New Perspectives: Justine Kimbel

To kick off 2024, we’re introducing you to several of our newest colleagues, and we’d like you to meet Justine Kimbel! Justine is a Sustainability Coordinator.

What brought you to L&P?

I was instantly drawn to L&P when I saw that a company with such a significant global presence in design and manufacturing was looking to get ahead in sustainability. After three years of research and advising small-scale start-ups on sustainable business practices, impacts of environmental policy, circularity of production, and sourcing of responsible materials, I knew I wanted to expand my knowledge and experience by applying it to a global scale. I have a deep curiosity for understanding how business operations reflect society’s relationship with the environment, and L&P stood as an incredible opportunity to build, grow, and enhance that relationship. As a leader in innovation, quality, and comfort, L&P’s ambition to raise the bar and create lasting positive impact is something I knew I wanted to be a part of.

What are you enjoying about your role so far?

The highlight of my role has been the people I have worked with thus far. There is a strong sense of community throughout Leggett, and it has made me feel incredibly welcome. Adjusting to a new role can be challenging and confusing, but thanks to the generous help and guidance from everyone I have worked with, I’ve been able to jump in with ease.

What’s something unique about you?

When I’m not spending my free time exploring coastlines or mountains, I am playing acoustic guitar and writing music. I’ve performed as a singer-songwriter in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, Scotland, and England. I love hosting music get-togethers with family and friends and enjoy sharing the universally understood language of music.

Have you set any personal or professional goals for yourself?

A personal goal I have set for myself is to be a go-to resource for sustainable business practices. Through professional experience on L&P’s Sustainability Team to industry conferences and opportunities for specialized education, I hope to build a personal network that allows for sharing ideas, innovations, and communities that all work to create a better, more sustainable future.

Our four company values are Put People First, Do the Right Thing, Do Great Work Together, and Take Ownership and Raise the Bar. What does it mean to you to Do Great Work Together?

To Do Great Work Together is to create a strong network of knowledge and resources that champions each person’s skills. The mindset of working as a team, knowing who to ask for help, feeling confident in your voice, and knowing that everyone has each other’s back creates a positive, productive, and closely-knit environment.