Protect-A-Bed, a Chicago-based supplier of mattresses, protection products and sleep accessories, has named two executives to new positions at the company.
Michael Lavelle has joined Protect-A-Bed as vice president of international business, and Jennifer Hillman, currently vice president of training and development, has been promoted to director of business development.
“The overwhelmingly positive response to the ‘Grow the Retail Basket’ program (in January) sent us a message that the industry and retailers are ready to change their current mindsets,” said John Rachid, president of Protect-A-Bed. “To ensure Protect-A-Bed stays ahead of the curve, we are making key strategic changes focused on putting the best people in positions where they can accelerate and support the business for our customers.”
Hillman was one of the company’s first employees when she joined in 2004. In 13 years with the company, she has grown her team from one to 23 field training specialists and built out a digital training portal, PAB University.
“I remember picking up samples and heading out to start training,” Hillman said. “At that time, it was really about helping salespeople understand the features and benefits of our only product, and one that was new to this industry. Now, our product assortment has expanded to include a variety of accessories, and our focus is on helping our retailers meet and exceed goals by maximizing the opportunities the accessory category can bring to their business.”
As director of business development, Hillman also focuses on overall sales strategies. “I’m really energized by this new role,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to take my experience and use it to shape the future for Protect-A-Bed.”
Commenting on Hillman’s new post, Rachid said: “Since taking over as president of PAB, I have consistently seen Jennifer focus on solution-based programs and strategic processes that center around putting our customers in a position to win. … The company will be able to leverage her talents and proven abilities to accelerate our current momentum. Jennifer’s commitment and contributions represent the core of Protect-A-Bed’s promise to our customers.”
A former executive with the retail chain Sleep Train, Lavelle has more than 20 years of experience in the sleep products industry. He rose from retail sales associate to vice president of strategic planning at Sleep Train, later acquired by Mattress Firm. He is a co-founder of the Sleep Train Annual Golf Tournament, which has raised millions of dollars to benefit foster child programs.
“I have worked with Protect-A-Bed for years and have always respected the integrity of the company,” Lavelle said. “In a sea full of sameness, Protect-A-Bed continues to pursue and deliver quality products, support their partners and deliver on time, with consistency. I am extremely excited for the work ahead of us.”
Commenting on Lavelle’s appointment, James Bell, chief executive officer of Protect-A-Bed, said: “We needed someone who could hit the ground running and build out not only an effective growth strategy, but ensure our international partners receive the retail and manufacturing support they need. Michael not only fits the bill, but knows the retail business inside and out; He is going to be a valuable asset to the organization.”