5 Questions with Rick Coffey

Hometown: Wilkesboro, NC
Graduation Class: BSIEFMM, 1978
Career Overview: After graduating from NC State, Rick Coffey began his career with Stanley Furniture in Virginia. At the age of 24, he became Stanley’s youngest plant manager. From there, he worked at several furniture companies including Broyhill, Thomasville, and MASCO. Then in 1998, Coffey bought an existing upholstery business and Morganton Chair was born. In 2000, his specialty upholstery business flourished and merged with McCreary Modern. At 44, Coffey became president and COO of McCreary Modern and maintains that position today.

What is the single most important experience or understanding you gained in the ISE department?
To embrace change, question everything and never stop learning!

What is the most pressing issue facing our society that engineers should be working harder to solve?
The proper identification and reduction in non-value-added processes and operations.

What would you like to accomplish in your career? What are you most proud of so far?
I would like to create a legacy and culture that enables McCreary Modern to meet the future demands for manufacturing in America. I am most proud of helping create a company that is considered one of the most successful, innovative, and productive in our industry.

If you were not in the engineering field, what would you likely be doing?
My formal industrial engineering career only lasted a couple of years. However, it enabled me to use these skills to quickly move forward on a very successful and rewarding career path.

What advice do you have for current ISE students?
Become an expert in observation and analysis. To use an old manufacturing cliché, “What you see is the best it will ever be.” Continuous process improvement is critical to an organization’s success and survival. Also, always seek and never dismiss a simple solution. Use the KISS Method, Keep It Simple Stupid.