Meet forecaster in the field, Eric Wilson, Director of Demand Planning and S&OP at Tempur Sealy International, who we spoke with in the spring of 2015 about the role forecasting plays in his organization.

How did you get started in forecasting?

After school (Wright State University, Business Administration), I started my own business, buying and selling textbooks. While it didn’t lead directly to a career in forecasting, it planted the seeds. I always thought I would be a CEO but after years of owning my own businesses and working for a couple of years as president of a startup and wearing every hat, I discovered my passion for supply chain management and the operational side of business.

I remember being motivated by a quote I heard regarding forecasting that really sparked my interest in the field: “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” In business, the one that can see what’s going to happen holds the power and the responsibility for the success of that enterprise. So I traded in my many hats for just one of the most important ones. Instead of CEO, I now have my eyes set on CSCO.

 

What is your current position and what are your responsibilities?

I am Tempur Sealy’s global S&OP champion and lead. I create and own the integrated business plan and single number forecast that synchronizes Tempur + Sealy’s sales operations and finance. I develop new product and end of life product forecasting and processes, as well as create and oversee supply chain teams for new product introductions. In addition to all that, I am the program lead and architect for Sealy supply chain integration and planning transformation. As such, I oversee Sealy’s plant level S&OP / IBP, materials replenishment process design and implementation, inventory management, forecast and demand planning, production scheduling and level loading, and standardization and synchronization of processes.

You’ve been with Tempur + Sealy for almost 10 years now. What are the biggest forecasting challenges you’ve had to tackle in that time?

When I came on board at Tempur, I was hired to help develop a demand planning functional area and establish a formalized S&OP process. At the time, we were less than an $800M company and had fewer than 1500 SKUs. I had overwhelming success meeting my objectives while the company experienced tremendous growth. During that same time period we became Tempur + Sealy, growing to over a $3.5 billion global company, with almost 50 times the number of SKU’s.

What have been the highlights of your career so far?

I have enjoyed being a pioneer in and champion of FVA%. I’ve had the opportunity to give numerous presentations on this subject, and even been invited by other fortune 500 companies to present to their teams. I’ve also been referenced in a couple of books on the subject.

I’m proud of having developed a best-in-class forecasting and demand planning organization in one of the fastest growing bedding corporations in the world. The executive level TAC (Tracking, Action, Collaboration) meeting that I helped institute at Tempur + Sealy is a weekly meeting that has fundamentally changed new product introductions (from an operational standpoint) and the overall responsiveness of our organization.

I am also honored to have been given the added responsibility of leading Sealy’s Planning Transformation, a board level directive to standardize Sealy planning processes to improve on-time and in-full performance to our customers while improving total cost and enabling level loading by integrating sales forecasts, material planning and perpetual inventory.

And now for the human-interest part of the interview: what interests do you have outside of work?

I don’t enjoy politics but I have a passion for civic responsibility, government, and advocacy for liberties and reformation of political processes. I have co-authored two books on history and civic responsibility in America, and am writing a third book on that topic now. This book will provide unique insights into what drives history to repeat itself and what we can expect to happen in the future as a result of our actions today.

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