BRENHAM, Texas – Billy Lehde, a member of the maintenance department at the Tempur Sealy factory here, has seen a lot of changes in the country and in the mattress industry in his more than half a century of work with the company.
When he started working at the Sealy plant here, Texan Lyndon Johnson was president of the United States. From Johnson into the Trump era, Lehde is still hard at work at Tempur Sealy’s Brenham factory.
Lehde, 74, who recently celebrated his 55th anniversary with the company, is believed to be the longest-tenured employee in the Tempur Sealy family.
“Working for a company that is a major leader in the bedding industry is a challenging and rewarding opportunity,” he said. “I like to fix things that are not working properly and figure out ways to make jobs easier and more efficient.”
“Billy is very thorough and focused,” said Roy Finke, director of manufacturing at the Brenham facility. “He has been a major contributor to the Brenham operation, and he continues to be a contributor at the age of 74. He is also an effective trainer to our newer maintenance techs.”
Lehde began his career as a mattress builder in 1964, and after 11 years, he transferred to receiving. In 1982, he moved to the Maintenance Department and has been there ever since. Throughout his career, he has maintained a commitment to quality and innovation, company officials said.
David Korth, the safety coordinator for the Brenham plant (and a 40-year company veteran himself), remembers several times when Lehde’s innovations resulted in a more efficient production process.
“In the early 1990s, Billy built the first robot for Sealy,” Korth said. “When the new line was installed, the finished foundations came out of the bagger sideways and needed to be turned as they went down the conveyor to the new flipper and stand-up conveyor. It was necessary for an associate to be stationed behind the bagger just to turn the foundations correctly. Billy went to work and after a lot of thought and a little elbow grease, invented a small robot that automatically turned each foundation.”
Some of his innovations were adopted as best practices at other Sealy plants, officials noted.
He was recently presented a certificate of recognition during a celebratory lunch at the plant, and he also received phone calls and letters of congratulations from Tempur Sealy executives.
“I like working here because of the many great friends and co-workers,” Lehde said.
Original article written by David Perry at Furniture Today and you can read it here.