Founded in 1958 by William “Bill” Harris, Harris Pillow Supply began as a franchise of Fluff ‘n Puff Pillow Service in the Chicago area. The following year Bill purchased the inventory of pillow cleaning machines from Fluff ‘n Puff when the company filed for bankruptcy. He began sewing his own ticking and selling the pillow cleaning machines to laundry service businesses and dry cleaners. He later redesigned the pillow machine to the Pillow-Vac that Harris Pillow Supply still manufactures and sells. In 1979, Bill’s son John Harris joined Harris Pillow Supply. In 1980, the mobile business in Chicago was sold and the company relocated to Beaufort, South Carolina. In 2004, the third generation of the Harris family, Patrick Harris, joined the team. Over the years, the business has evolved to include multiple services: sewing pillow ticking, providing feathers and supplies for refreshing and renovating pillows, manufacturing pillows, and manufacturing and selling the world’s only pillow renovating machine – the Pillow-Vac.
As the business started to grow, Harris Pillow was looking for guidance to improve business practices. They wanted to be operating efficiently and profitably with a diverse customer base. After hearing about SCMEP from a previous encounter, the company reached out.
In order to learn more about the business and uncover opportunities for improvement, SCMEP completed the Discovery Assessment. This assessment reviewed the company’s current state, goals and visions, and the desired state. It also included recommendations that would likely have a significant impact on the company’s bottom line. Harris Pillow had the desire to grow their business and compete with any national company and SCMEP was able to identify two areas that needed to be addressed. The first recommendation, Strategic Planning, represented a game plan to develop the skills and systems needed to create a culture of change, and then manage the business using data generated by a process-controlled model. With consistent processes, Harris Pillow could create a culture of continuous improvement and waste elimination to strengthen the operation and competitiveness. Second, the future success of the company depends on developing clear messaging. They understood that strong messaging conveys the identify of the company to a wider audience of prospects and clients. The Strategic Sales and Marketing Boost Program was recommended for this reason. Lastly, a Lean Transformation program was suggested.
Results were seen almost immediately. Tasks that had been done the same way for many years are now streamlined and documented. Inventory levels are now much easier to maintain, including an automatic process for ordering. Due to the training received, 4 jobs have been added, sales have increased by $100,000, and Harris Pillow has saved $100,000. The company has also increased investments in many areas including $325,000 in plant equipment, $85,000 in information systems and software, $30,000 in workforce practices, $20,000 in saved investments, and $175,000 in new products and processes.
“The individuals we dealt with were extremely professional and personal. SCMEP is outstanding to work with and does whatever they can to assist us. Due to their training, everything is more efficient.” Patrick Harris, President