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Strategy

Four Tips for Leaving a Company on Good Terms

Executive Vice President Perry Davis shares four lessons on legacy building from four decades at Leggett & Platt.

By Ren Bishop

Nov 2019

Shaking hands stock image
Photo courtesy ShutterstockLeave a good impression when you leave a company behind.

Perry Davis thought that his Leggett & Platt job was temporary. He had just graduated from Missouri Southern State University, jobs were scarce, and he needed some experience before he got a “real” job. That was 1980, and he was a customer service representative. Nearly four decades later, now the Executive Vice President Davis is retiring from his first, and only, company. He shares his advice on leading and leaving a company well.

Tip 1: Focus on Relationships

At the heart of everything he’s done, Davis has been hyper-focused on building and maintaining relationships. “I have always had a passion for our greatest asset, which is our customers. But regardless of where you work, you have customers. If you clean bathrooms, you have customers. And if you have co-workers you care about, you have true friends.”

Tip 2: Find a Mentor

Like many successful business leaders, Davis managed to find a true mentor who helped motivate Davis to strive for more in every aspect of his life. “The moment that had the biggest impact on me was likely around the year 2000 when I lost a great friend and boss, Ted Cowan,who tragically passed away from brain cancer. I was named to his position, and I just knew I could not let him down. I think about him a lot.”

Tip 3: Cheer for Your Team

Davis led L&P to acquire Elite Comfort Systems Inc. for $1.3 billion in 2019. That purchase positioned the company for future industry success. Davis credits his talented team for the successful purchase. “I like to have folks working for me who are smarter than I am. I’m a person who believes that if you are not liked and if you do not treat your fellow partners with respect, you’re not going anywhere in the business world.”

Tip 4: Be Replaceable 

Train talent and deploy them so that you’re easily, and happily, replaced when the time comes. “The day I leave, no one will notice. We have a great pool of talented individuals coming up to assume roles of higher and higher responsibility. To me, that is ultimate satisfaction.”