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The Remarkable Career of Fleurette Fitch: A Story of Women Leading in Manufacturing 

On April 18, Fleurette Fitch – a 21-year employee of Shaw Industries – was honored at a Washington DC gala for her outstanding manufacturing career. That evening, the Manufacturing Institute recognized Fitch as a Women MAKE Award honoree for her outstanding contributions within manufacturing.  

Fitch is the Senior Quality Director of Soft Services at Shaw Industries in Dalton, Georgia. In her career, she’s worked in nearly every aspect of Shaw manufacturing, from the factory floor to plant manager.  

She first heard of the award in a text from a colleague: congratulations, it said.  

Indeed. 

“Fleurette has made an indelible impact on our organization, our associates and our community,” said Amanda Edwards, vice president of Enterprise Excellence for Shaw Industries. “Her commitment to excellence is evident in all she does, including her efforts to inspire and uplift other women. I am privileged to work alongside her and delighted to see her honored in this way.”  

Here’s Fleurette Fitch in her own words, describing her career, the meaning of service and words of advice to other women.  

What does the 2024 Women MAKE Award mean to you?  

I am honored to be recognized by the Manufacturing Institute.  We share the same passion of supporting women in manufacturing.  

What was your first thought when you heard of this award?    

I was in a meeting with one of my managers and when I saw the “congratulations” in the chat, I was wondering what it was for.  After my meeting, I opened my email and I saw the email from Women MAKE telling me that I was selected as a recipient of the Women MAKE Award. I was surprised and very excited. 

Describe your career at Shaw.  

This month, I will celebrate 21 years at Shaw. I started out as a process engineer in a carpet tile plant. I also served as Quality Engineering Manager, Finishing MOS Manager, Production Manager and Plant Manager. About 10 years ago, I was promoted to Quality Director of the Commercial Division, and last year, I was promoted to Senior Quality Director of Soft Surfaces. 

What are your philosophies and beliefs about work?  

I always want to leave an area better than I have found it. Shaw has a lot of opportunities and I’ve had the honor of serving in many different professional roles.  I always say, “Year one is for learning and Shaw is paying me to learn. Year two and beyond, the ‘ROI’ phase begins, and we should be positively impacting the enterprise.” 

Why have you stayed so long?  

In short, I’ve had great managers and opportunities – and I enjoy the people I work with. Early in my career, I changed roles more often. I have been in my current job of Quality Director the longest yet, but the scope and impact of my role keep growing so I interact with new challenges, opportunities and people every day.   

What does Shaw mean to you?  

At Shaw, we have what we call the Shaw Way. That’s because the culture is people focused – on both associates and customers. And I think that’s one reason people stay for so long. I have worked with some of my co-workers for 21 years. And I spend almost as much time with them as I do my family.  

After 20-plus years, you learn the names of their family members and share in the joys and losses they experience just as you would your own family. Simply put, Shaw is a great place to work because the company provides tremendous opportunities for personal and professional development. My career path is proof of that. 

What do you wish readers knew about Shaw? What’s the untold story there?  

Shaw truly values its people and its customers. Shaw believes that people are its greatest asset, and that is evident in the company’s programs, policies and products. 

How do you define service? How do you see service aligning with your career at Shaw?  

At the first Shaw manufacturing facility I worked at, the mantra was “Do it right. Do it on time. And do it with the customer in mind.” That’s stuck with me.  

Delivering the customer a product that they want and will love is simply good business and in turn, good service. Throughout my career, I have worked on projects to deliver the very best product to our customers. Regardless of what my role is, my goal is the same: make decisions with the customer in mind.   

Any words of advice to other women in manufacturing?  

Get out of your department or facility and network with others. Many of us women work hard to deliver results which make us successful in our current roles but if we want to advance our careers, we must network with others outside of our current network. And as engineers, that can be uncomfortable, but it’s absolutely necessary.  

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