Suresh Krishna, senior vice president, Select Comfort

 

Suresh Krishna’s focus on improving profitability is producing results for Select Comfort, the Plymouth-based maker of Sleep Number mattresses and the recently launched “it bed.”

Krishna joined Select Comfort as senior vice president and chief operations, supply chain and lean officer earlier this year after close to six years at Polaris Industries, most recently as vice president of the Europe, Middle East and Africa.

At Select Comfort, Krishna said, his approach combines lean processes and continuous improvement. The company is saving more than 10 percent on labor after investing in more than 20 improvement efforts carried out in factories over the last six months.

“We are seeing it reported in our third-quarter earnings that we saw margin expansion,” Krishna said. “A lot of it was through these particular efforts.”

Krishna attributed that success in part to an entrepreneurial spirit that he said drives the 30-year-old company.

Applying lean principles helped prepare Select Comfort’s supply chain to deliver its new “it bed,” Krishna said. The “it bed,” developed in just a year as an answer to bed-in-a-box competitors, offers dual adjustability, sleep tracking and connectivity to health, fitness and other apps.

Krishna’s 20 years of experience includes working as vice president of supply chain for the North American business of Diageo. He has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a mechanical engineering degree from the National Institute of Technology in India.

Q: What appealed to you about the Select Comfort opportunity?

A: I was thrilled with the culture and … the innovation spirit. They’re the only company in this industry that’s doing real innovation and shaping where the industry is headed. The passion for the brand: I could not think that people could be so passionate about a mattress.

 

Q: What’s next for improvement efforts at Select Comfort?

A: Part of what we’re doing now is whetting the appetite for the corporation to see how does this work. We’re already beginning to apply it in warehouses this quarter. We are beginning to apply it to corporate processes like planning, which is production planning, scheduling, inventory improvement.

 

Q: How is your experience at Polaris and elsewhere coming into play?

A: I call it a cycle of learning. It’s no different than a big tree or an old tree and you’re creating rings of learning. There are many times some of the [learning] I’m talking about goes back to my first couple of years. I leverage all of the learnings that I’ve had throughout my career.

 

Todd Nelson