Success Story


As a recent high school graduate, Adriana Plaisted was mapping out her future plans. She was still deciding whether college or the workforce was the answer. “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, so my plan was to get a job until I figured it out,” says Adriana. She began lightly browsing for job opportunities online as she enjoyed her summer.

Ben Plaisted, Adriana’s father, is a Sr. Staffing Manager for Leddy Group, but Adriana didn’t automatically assume she’d be a Leddy Group field employee. That is, until her dad shared with her a very interesting assembly role in Somersworth, NH at JEMS by PENSOLE, the first Black-owned athletic footwear factory in the U.S., which opened its doors in March 2023. Leddy Group had recently partnered with JEMS by PENSOLE and was helping the employer expand their team. Leddy Group Regional Director Becky Fecteau says, “I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they had chosen Somersworth, NH to open their manufacturing facility. I was raised when shoe companies were booming in this area and thought it would be a fun industry to recruit for. The more I learned about JEMS, the owner D’wayne Edwards, the local management team, and about their core values, the more my team and I were excited to partner with them.” Kyle Plummer, Senior Development Manager at JEMS by PENSOLE, says, “It was hard to find people on our own. We found Leddy Group online and reached out. Becky called immediately, and it allowed us to stay focused on opening the factory while she and her team vetted out the process to find qualified candidates. Becky, Ben, and the team at Leddy Group have helped us find exceptional candidates in the sewing/assembly field.”

The thought of working at a footwear company definitely appealed to Adriana, so she decided to pursue the opportunity. “I have always had an interest in shoes,” she says, detailing how, in her spare time, she likes to custom paint shoes and was experimenting with hand embroidery as well. Ben says that JEMS by PENSOLE was “excited to hear that Adriana painted shoes as a hobby, which is how D’wayne got his start.” Ben helped Adriana with her resume, and Becky prepared her for her interview. Adriana admits she was a little intimidated to interview for her first full-time role, but when she arrived, she says, “I quickly relaxed. Everyone there is very laidback and helpful, and it’s a great environment.”

Adriana joined the assembly team at JEMS by PENSOLE in July. She helps put together the pieces of the shoes, affixing the soles through a multi-stepped process to ensure high-quality products. Adriana loves the design of the footwear she helps produce, saying “They are really unique. I’ve never seen sneakers like them.” The fine details on the sneakers are an homage to the company’s namesake, inventor Jan Ernst Matzeliger, who in 1883 patented a lasting machine technology still used in footwear manufacturing today. The company devotes its efforts to manufacturing in the U.S. and bringing diversity to the footwear industry.

JEMS by PENSOLE also strives to educate their team members on all aspects of the business, from materials, to assembly, to design, to manufacturing, to help them advance on their chosen career paths. Kyle shares, “We aim to hire our employees with the intent of not only teaching them the manufacturing process, but the shoe business, so they can see and have opportunities to succeed and look outside of the world of manufacturing in the footwear industry. We want our team to learn, grow, and feel proud of the work we are doing here in Somersworth.”

The “work hard to play hard” culture at JEMS by PENSOLE energizes employees like Adriana, who enjoys her daily tasks and the positive team-based atmosphere where “everyone can joke around and be themselves” while keeping up with the fast pace. Kyle says that he and Scot Hull, Director of Manufacturing, “would enthusiastically say the talented employees from Leddy Group have been a great asset to hire,” as Adriana and her coworkers have helped the company successfully release their first three production runs. Even when faced with a big deadline for production, Adriana says, “everyone is still willing to help each other.” She appreciates the support of management as well, sharing, “It’s really great working for people who actually appreciate your work.” Kyle says, “Since day one Adriana has been learning every aspect of footwear manufacturing and has excelled. Adriana has proven she is willing to learn, dedicated to hard work, and willing to work overtime when needed. She is an outstanding JEM, along with our other employees, and we strive to hire more like her! Her art background and attention to detail are a giant asset to our team.”

Leddy Group partners with many employers in a variety of industries to offer candidates amazing opportunities that fit their career goals. As JEMS by PENSOLE has grown their team, they have proven to be a great employer for numerous Leddy Group field employees of varying skill sets, including those just entering the workforce, like Adriana, who was recently hired on by the company and promoted to Maker II! “I was worried about getting a full-time job because I just hear everyone say that they dread going into work, and they don’t want Sunday night to come because that means the work week is starting,” says Adriana. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve never felt that. I’m always excited to go into work, and even when I do a lot of overtime, I’m still excited to come in. It’s a really great feeling.” Becky says, “Working at JEMS by PENSOLE was an immediate match for Adriana, and the rest is history. We are thrilled to know that Adriana loves her position.”