Last week we spoke with Geoffrey Lewis, a District Manager in Minneapolis, but this week we are staying right here in our hometown of Houston to show you exactly why our employees love this company. Our third installment of the “We the people of Mattress Firm” brings to you Cory Ludens, Vice President of Learning and Development.
Q: Cory, you have a very specialized position at Mattress Firm as the Vice President of Learning and Development, how did you end up with Mattress Firm?
A: A lifelong dream to work in the sleep specialty retail business…of course that’s not the answer you were expecting or the real answer from my perspective. I studied Theater and Communications Broadcasting at the University of South Dakota, and at the time, USD was one of the only schools at which Mattress Firm recruited because of its ties to our founders. My best friend Heath Jennings had graduated a semester before me and had taken a job with the Mattress Firm franchise in Atlanta, owned by Steve Stagner and Darin Lewin. When I got close to graduating, Heath wrote me a letter and told me that Mattress Firm would be on campus and that I HAD to go interview with them…and he sent me $100 so I could take Darin and Steve out for drinks one night! The rest, is as they say…history.
Q: What all does your current position as Vice President of Learning and Development entail?
A: I have what I truly believe to be the best possible job at this truly amazing company. I get to lead a team of people whose sole purpose here is to help create an environment for education and development. The 25 other people who work in Learning and Development really make all the magic happen, but I’m darn excited and appreciative to be able to be a part of this team! I really try to approach leading L&D just like running any kind of business…we have customers, performance expectations and financial responsibility just like any other business. On top of that, our role is to create an environment for education to happen, so skills like influence without authority, networking, and needs assessment are incredibly important for us to be able to produce the products that the company is looking for.
Q: What is your favorite part about your current position?
A: There are MANY things that I love about my current position, but the thing that I love the most is working with a truly amazing, selfless group of people who are all committed to the same ideals…one of which is to understand that we are here to be of service to others. There is NOTHING better to me than to be able to help someone in whatever way they need.
Q: What is your funniest Mattress Firm related story?
A: In 15 years I’ve certainly had my fair share of funny stories…many of which are probably not printable here. There have been SO many times when I’ve been around my MFRM family and I literally could not stop laughing because we were having so much fun…living with 7 other MFRMers in a 3 bedroom apartment when I first started…the trip to the BVI…the first Ugly Sweater party…it’s impossible to pick just one. One of my most memorable moments though happened on May 20, 2001. That was the day after I went on my first date with a girl named Abby Johnson who had just moved to Atlanta to work for MFRM. Steve called me into his office and asked me how the date went. I told him “it went great, I think I might really like this girl!” To which he responded, “You better, cause she is special and I don’t want to lose either of you over a broken heart. Take good care of her, cause Abby’s the kind of girl that’s easy to fall in love with, but not easy to get over.” He reminded us both of that 5 years later at our wedding.
Q: Finally why do you love Mattress Firm?
A: Because Mattress Firm has given me everything in my life…my friends…my family…and a reason to get up every day and feel like I can make a difference. I LOVE Mattress Firm, because all along the way, it’s shown me that it’s not only OK to have fun at work, it’s expected. Who wouldn’t love to be a part of that?