Women and Innovation: Alexandra Drewniak

At L&P, we’re inspired by our colleagues who go above and beyond to enhance our businesses. This month, we’re sharing stories of women at L&P who have improved our products and processes with their creativity and leadership.

Meet Alexandra Drewniak! Alexandra has been with us for 21 years and is currently a Continuous Improvement Manager for our Automotive branch in Austria.

Alexandra (pictured far left) and teammates at our Automotive branch in Austria

“My role requires a deep understanding of our products and processes, being open minded, and serving as a contact person for all departments,” says Alexandra. “It also involves a lot of reporting, giving friendly reminders, performing project management, and asking questions like, ‘Why not? When? and Why, why, why?'”

Alexandra knows how to encourage a group to work towards a common goal, and a couple of those goals have been to increase branch profitability and keep a green mindset. Looking for ways to minimize waste and reduce energy consumption, Alexandra helped her branch cut its gas consumption in half. She’s also found opportunities to save money by organizing continuous improvement workshops and brainstorming sessions. During her time as a Branch Controller, she improved our financial processes by implementing Sarbanes–Oxley Act procedures, streamlining internal processes, and focusing on a lean approach in administrative processes.

“I am surrounded by brilliant coworkers who all strive to make our products and processes better every day,” says Alexandra. “Innovation is not a one-person task – we all need to pull in the same direction to make things happen.”

When asked what challenges she’s faced, Alexandra shared that she overcomes budget and personnel resource constraints by making things work with less, going for the smaller options, and looking for workarounds.

“I am an optimist, and there’s always a way. I believe in maintaining a positive mindset,” she says. “When solving issues, I take a structured approach, looking at the pros and cons. I’m never afraid to ask questions, and I keep all relevant people and departments involved in the process.”

We are very proud of and grateful for Alexandra’s leadership!

Women and Innovation: Claudia Ortega

At L&P, we’re inspired by our colleagues who go above and beyond to enhance our businesses. This month, we’re sharing stories of women at L&P who have improved our products and processes with their creativity and leadership.

Meet Claudia Ortega. Claudia has been with L&P for 17 years. She started as the Quality System Manager at Mary Ann Industries in Villa Rica, GA. She is now part of the Leggett Business Systems Office (LBSO) Quality Management Systems (QMS) team as a Senior Quality System Continuous Improvement (QS/CI) Coordinator.

The LBSO department provides Quality Management System audits and training for several of our Leggett branches. As a result of the pandemic, the LBSO team had to develop ways to perform audits and training remotely.

“Claudia was instrumental in helping develop the remote training materials and process for delivering this training,” says Jeff Howery, Director of Quality Management Systems. “She has continued to expand the program with new offerings and materials to meet our branch’s quality system needs.”

We talked to Claudia about this project, the challenges the LBSO team faced, and how the new training has improved our business.

Can you tell us about the audits and your goals for making these trainings remote?

The main objective of audits is to verify that our branches conform to a series of requirements to guide processes and that they implement them in a way that helps improve operations. A management system audit consists of three main activities: Process observations, interviews with plant personnel, and review of evidence and documentation. These three activities needed to be conducted using remote methods of communication because it was important to perform a complete evaluation of those systems. The goal was to ensure the audits provided valuable and useful information to the branch concerning their process’s effectiveness and management system.

How did you work through the obstacles of doing remote audits?

First, we revisited how we planned the audits. It was necessary to be flexible and have more work done before the audit date to confirm logistics and infrastructure needs with the facility. For example, we inquired whether the branch could do video or voice calls.

We developed a document explaining how the remote audit process would work and a pre-audit checklist for the branches to complete and submit to plan the audit agenda. This document helped us understand the capabilities and constraints the branches may have and plan the audit accordingly. The branches have been very receptive, and although it has been challenging, the process has been effective and helpful in assessing conformity and effectiveness as well as identifying opportunities for improvement.

What were your challenges with taking training remotely, and how did you work through it?

The challenge related to training was adapting a program developed to be performed on-site to a remote format that was both manageable and helpful for the branches and the participants. The duration and content of the training were two of the main things that needed to be adjusted.

We restructured the content to flow better in the time allocated to complete the training. We also developed activities to assess the participants’ understanding and provide opportunities for participation and interaction. Although it has its limitations, it has provided the opportunity to bring branches from different locations together. It has also become more accessible because participants can enroll and attend training without leaving their branch.

We also developed tools such as templates, tables, and flowcharts to provide branches with examples and guides. We distribute a quarterly training calendar, and the branches enroll participants in their selected topics. The response has been great! They have been very receptive and interested in improving their systems, which is the focus of these webinars – to create content that would help the branches enhance their management system and, as a result, the effectiveness of their operations.

Thank you, Claudia, for exhibiting our value of taking ownership and raising the bar!

Employee Appreciation Day at L&P

Our employees recently celebrated Employee Appreciation Day by giving thanks for one another and enjoying a variety of snacks and activities! Check out some of the photos from our teams’ celebrations:

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Sibi Chakravarthy (left) received an award for perfect attendance during the 2023 year. “It was an honor and pleasure to receive this award,” shared Sibi. “I have love and respect for my work, and I believe commitment towards our work will lead us to success.”

Zhaoqing, Guangdong, China

Wuxi, Jiangsu, China

Changsha, Hunan, China

Changchun, Jilin, China

Chongqing, Sichuan, China

Tianjin, China

Changshu, Jiangsu, China

Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Happy World Sleep Day!

March 15 is World Sleep Day – a day to recognize the importance of sleep and promote good sleep health.

Did you know that L&P holds more than one thousand bedding-related patents? As a go-to source for all things bedding, we enhance people’s lives with superior sleep experiences and appreciate the sleep health professionals who help people get a good night’s rest.

Like exercising and eating well, getting good quality sleep is a part of maintaining good health. If you’re interested in more information on healthy sleep, check out this page: Start Your Day with Good Quality Sleep.

Women and Innovation: HRIS Configuration Team

At L&P, we’re inspired by our colleagues who go above and beyond to enhance our businesses. This month, we’re sharing stories of women at L&P who have improved our products and processes with their creativity and leadership.

We’d like you to meet three members of our Human Resources Information System (HRIS) Configuration Team – Ashley Woods, Krystal Baker, and Lyn Eivers.

Ashley Woods is based in Jefferson City, MO, and has been with L&P for two and a half years. Krystal Baker lives in Joplin, MO, and has been with L&P for five years, and Lyn Eivers is based in Meath, Ireland, and has been with L&P for one and a half years. These women have an average of 15 years of experience implementing various Human Resources (HR) systems and have been instrumental in the successful launch of our HRIS system, LP CORE.

Being on different continents, the team only has a few hours daily to focus, collaborate, and train. In July 2022, the team had the opportunity to meet in person at the project kick-off. This time together helped them bond and foster a sense of trust and camaraderie.

Each of the women has a strong HR foundation built on practical experience, which helped them navigate the global complexities of our business with skill and efficiency and helped make the launch of LP CORE a success. We asked the team some questions about this project, the challenges they faced, and how LP CORE has improved our business.

What challenges did your team face while building LP CORE, and how did you overcome them?

We had a lot of listening to do at the start of this process. Early stakeholder engagement in the implementation phase identified a communication barrier. We were able to lean on L&P’s Translation Services team, including Liliana Cano-Montoya and Freda Ge from our Asia Pacific (APAC) region, for invaluable support throughout the process. The HRIS team translated the system into six languages for go-live to assist every level of HR employee.

Our team offered different learning solutions for every learning style, utilizing Teams training and written guides in all languages, and built online learning courses in the Learning Management System (LMS).

One of our core values is to be easy to work with and provide excellent customer service. Our team covers multiple time zones, so there is always one of us online to help the global HR community. Another way we overcame any challenges is by keeping a sense of humor – we all had great fun working together on the implementation.  

How did you approach building the HRIS and problem-solving as issues arose?

We are passionate about data and finding solutions. We spent hours building and testing configurations before presenting a solution to the L&P stakeholders. We also stayed agile; requirements changed daily, so new technical solutions had to be created to meet the latest needs. Our knowledge and experience with our previous organizations encouraged L&P to be open-minded and receptive to new and improved processes. 

How has LP CORE improved our business?                          

We delivered an HR solution that is now the recognized system of record for employee data globally. Data Security was always at the forefront of our minds as we configured and developed the system, ensuring authorized access was granted and approved prior to Go-Live. In addition, workflow approvals in the system have now reduced the number of paper/digital forms within the business and are fully auditable. Real-time reporting now allows data to be extracted and analyzed centrally. Going Live with LP CORE is only the start of the team’s journey – we are now busy preparing for new modules and continuous improvements.

Thank you to Ashley, Krystal, and Lyn for your dedication to our business and for showing what it looks like to do great work together!

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today is International Women’s Day! On this day, we celebrate the achievements of the women around us and raise awareness about the continued struggles for equality and gender parity.

This year’s global theme is “inspiring inclusion.” Inspiring inclusion encourages everyone to recognize the unique perspectives and contributions of women worldwide by challenging stereotypes, breaking down barriers, and creating an environment where all women are respected.

Here are some ways we can inspire inclusion in our workplace: 

  • Be an Ally: Support and uplift your female colleagues and help champion their voices. Listen to their experiences and validate their perspectives.
  • Celebrate Women’s Achievements: One of our values is Do Great Work Together. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed. Recognizing each other’s achievements promotes camaraderie and boosts morale.
  • Seek Women’s Input: Involve women coworkers in the decision-making processes. Their perspectives are valuable and contribute to well-rounded decisions.
  • Support Groups at L&P that Champion Women: The Women’s ERG’s mission is to raise the visibility of women, celebrate their unique contributions and perspectives, foster personal and professional development, broaden their support network, build allyship, and influence positive change.

Women and Innovation: Linda Parker

At L&P, we’re inspired by our colleagues who go above and beyond to enhance our businesses. This month, we’re sharing stories of women at L&P who have improved our products and processes with their creativity and leadership.

Meet Linda Parker, Controller for U.S. Operations within Home Furniture! Throughout her 25 years with us, Linda has enhanced our businesses by improving efficiency and introducing new forms of standardization. We asked her some questions about work, mentorship, and how she overcomes challenges.

What is a day at work like for you?

Every day is different. At the start of a new financial period, I might field questions related to the previous period and start preparing forecast material. That morphs into the Finance and Accounting team preparing forecasts that I review and consolidate. After the forecasts are consolidated, I provide financial explanations to our Home Furniture group’s management.

Sometimes, I work on different analyses for Home Furniture’s management team so they have the financial information they need to drive our business forward. I also work with branch management on accounting and internal control issues.

How have you enhanced our businesses?

There are two enhancements that I am most proud of. The first relates to my tenure in overseeing the compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We had an issue where we needed to revise our physical inventory procedures, and I visited branches to see what the pain points were. I assembled a team across L&P to help solve the issues, and our process changes resulted in annual savings of approximately $1M+ for the company.  

The second enhancement relates to standardizing accounting processes for Home Furniture. Standardization allows team members to easily cover for each other when there is a personal emergency, makes process changes easier because the team is executing the task the same way, and helps reviewers find the information they need to perform a good review. This work was already in process when I joined the Home Furniture team, but I found additional areas where we could improve our efficiency and accuracy in financial reporting.

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Implementing procedures to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act were challenging because compliance guidance kept changing and there was no roadmap on how to comply. There was also stakeholder resistance to these changes, and it was difficult to ensure that we had minimal impact to our operating locations. I found that the best way to tackle these types of large-scale projects is to break them down into pieces, use the best information available, and overcommunicate.

Process changes cannot be completed in a vacuum. I try to involve subject matter experts whenever possible. I learned very early in my career that, when converting locations to L&P systems, you need to involve representatives from all areas of the process so that you do not have unintended consequences. A change that makes sense for one area may cause problems in another. 

You’ve served as a mentor at L&P to plant accountants. What has your mentoring experience been like, and why do you think it’s important to be a mentor?

Each plant accountant on my team wants different things out of their career. As a mentor, my job is to listen to what their career goals are and help them achieve those goals – whether that’s progressing to a more advanced role or learning more advanced accounting processes. It’s very rewarding to see individuals achieve a career milestone or grasp a complicated accounting concept that they thought they couldn’t grasp.

I’ve benefited from some outstanding mentors – like Bill Weil, Joe Franklin, Megan Dawson, and Mike Carter – who have helped shape my career at L&P and enhanced my understanding of the manufacturing environment. I think it’s important to be a mentor so that there is someone who can be a sounding board for problem solving, help with identifying career opportunities, and be a source of technical knowledge. I also learn from our plant accountants!

Women and Innovation at L&P

Every day, we see women driving innovation in our workplaces and communities. Our colleagues’ creativity, leadership, and unique experiences enrich our businesses, and we are proud to recognize and celebrate their contributions. This month on L&P social, we’re excited to share some stories of women at L&P who have improved our processes and products!

Although representation of women across the workforce continues to grow, barriers exist that can make it difficult for them to navigate their careers. At L&P, our Women’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) supports women across our company by building awareness of these barriers so we can work together to overcome them. Their mission is to raise the visibility of women, celebrate their unique contributions and perspectives, foster personal and professional development, broaden their support network, build allyship, and influence positive change.

This month, our Women’s ERG will host a guest speaker and resume monthly Coffee Chats – casual, virtual conversations where ERG members can connect. Later this year, they’ll share details about launching a mentorship program and future events.

Happy Employee Appreciation Day!

Today is Employee Appreciation Day! We want to say thank you to our team members all over the globe for your contributions, dedication, and resilience.

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.