The Bedding Snob

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Manufacturing Stories: Making Pillows with John Roode

manu6W11In honor of our annual Fall pillow sale, we’ve decided to give our readers an insider perspective on how our pillows are made. And if there’s one person who knows the in’s and out’s of the process better than anyone else, it’s Assistant Manufacturing Manager, John Roode.

Roode, who has been with Cuddledown for over 10 years, currently helps oversee all of the day-to-day operations in manufacturing, making sure each and every pillow is up to our standard of excellence.

Check out our interview below:

How long have you been working at Cuddledown? Where did you start?

I have been at Cuddledown for 10 years now – three months as a temporary employee, then the rest with the company. I was brought in through a staffing agency to package comforters for a large hotel order. I must have been pretty good at packaging because they never got rid of me!

Briefly describe your current role at Cuddledown. What do you enjoy most about your position? What makes you most proud?

My role at Cuddledown is to oversee the daily operation of the manufacturing facility. Essentially, that means I put a daily plan together based on sales, then I run around and make sure the team has everything they need to be successful.

In my spare time I explore ways to help us improve our current processes, as well as looking at how to expand the manufacturing department.

I enjoy working with the great team that I work with in manufacturing. I like being able to help develop their skills as machine operators, but more importantly as thinkers and leaders. In return, they provide me with the same developmental opportunities, so we are growing together.

I also like that we are able to make significant cultural and measurable changes within our department. It’s always nice to live the results of hard work and innovative thinking.

I guess what makes me most proud is when we give a tour, and all the positive feedback is directed at how engaged and knowledgeable our team is. I feel our team is the absolute best at what they do, and I really like when they are recognized for it.

During our Manufacturing Day 2015 tours to hear the kids say that, “this was the best field trip ever” was incredibly rewarding for me personally.

Manuf.BjohnF08Briefly talk about the pillow-making process at Cuddledown. What are the basic steps that a pillow goes through from beginning to end before it reaches customers?

We have a machine that consists of scales and filling pipes being fed by silos. Each silo could contain any one of 15 fill types we use on a daily basis. One of our operators will program the machine to fill up to the desired pillow weight.

When our operator is ready they start the machine, and the scales will draw fill from the selected silo. Once the scales have reached the desired volume they will discontinue filling.

At this time our operator will pull a pillow shell over one of the filling pipes and activate the pipe. The entire contents of the scale will then empty into the pillow shell. Our operator will then sew closed the pillow along with all of the necessary labels.

After a standard quality check the pillow will be packaged up, to be shipped to our DC (distribution center).

What can customers expect from a Cuddledown pillow that is different from other store bought pillows?

The quality of the material will immediately stand out, from the feel of the shell to the spring of the down.

Additionally, what they are holding is handmade right here in Maine, and that’s awesome.

You’re not getting that with the other guys.

What motivates you working at Cuddledown?

The responsibility I have to our team, and frankly to our customer. Our customer wants and deserves the highest quality bedding, and our team wants to build the highest quality product as fast as they can. It’s up to me to provide the tools that helps everyone get what they want.

Is there a particularly memorable donation of pillows that Cuddledown has been a part of? What did that mean to you?

There are two that really stick out for me. One was less of a donation and more of a gift.

The first was when we were able to make pillows for the Travis Mills Foundation. Travis was injured serving our country, and is now working on building a place in Maine where wounded veterans can go and do all sorts of wonderful things.

Almost everyone knows someone who has made the sacrifice to serve our country, and to be a part of this project where we were able to actually do something in return was incredible. Meeting Travis was one of the highlights of my life so far, he’s truly a hero and an amazing person.

The second was when we invited students from local high schools to tour our facility to celebrate Manufacturing Day.

I was giving the kids an overview of the pillow filling machine, and one of the kids asked if he could have a pillow. Little did they know making a pillow for themselves was actually on the tour agenda. I told the young man, “if you make it you can have it,” and the entire group lit up with excitement. It was great. Each one of them worked with our incredible operators and made their own pillow.

ZManu4_Z157What’s a special memory about a pillow order or product type?

I was recently working the company’s annual tent sale and I had a woman ask me about our neck support pillows. I told her I never have personally used one, I prefer regular pillows. I explained the concept of the pillow, and she purchased one.

She came back the next day with two friends and told me it was the absolute best sleep she’s ever had – so much so that she purchased additional support pillows, and actually sold her friends on the pillow. I bought one at the employee store – she was right, it’s a great pillow.

Any recommendations for someone trying out a Cuddledown pillow for the first time? What are some of our most popular pillows?

Recommendations? You can’t miss. Everything we make is the best hands down. We make a ton of sateen synthetic and 800 Fill Power pillows. Sateen is such a nice fabric. That would actually be my recommendation.

Do you have a particular favorite fill pillow and why?

Sateen king medium. Absolutely! I like my pillow big and firm. I don’t even care what fill is in them, these are the only pillows allowed on my bed (unless my wife says otherwise).

We would like to thank John for providing such interesting insight on the hard work and passion that goes into handcrafting our pillows.

What is your favorite Cuddledown pillow? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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