100 and counting: Kingsdown looks forward during its centennial year

By Matt Bolch

When marking such a significant milestone as 100 years in business, most companies take a moment to reflect on its past century as it looks hopefully toward another 100.

But Kingsdown is not like most other companies. The Mebane, N.C.–based manufacturer has staked its claim as an innovator in the industry. Instead of looking back, it’s chosen to look forward, mounting a fund–raising effort to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network of 170 nonprofit children’s health care facilities.

“We think it’s exactly what we’re trying to portray,” says Eric Hinshaw, Kingsdown chairman and CEO. “We’re not talking about the past 100 years, but about our history of innovation and what we’re doing to make a brighter future.”

Kingsdown’s bright future sprang from humble beginnings in 1904, when Mebane, N.C., residents W.W. Corbett and A.N. Scott founded the Mebane Bedding Co. on the second floor of an old mill. Innovation got its start in the mid–1940s when Kingsdown created a wood and steel bedspring to help steel conservation efforts during the Second World War.

The last decade found the company pushing the envelope on design with a half–dozen innovations as well as a move into Canada. In 1999, Kingsdown introduced the patented DormoDiagnostics sleep system, a computerized scientific way for customers to pick the right mattress for their body type.

Kingsdown has continued its innovative course, opening a new showroom at the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, N.C., in 2001 and a prototype Sleep to Live retail store in Durham, N.C., last year. The latter concept builds on the national Sleep to Live campaign the manufacturer launched in 1997.

The company’s history is dotted with acquisitions and mergers, capped by a management–led buyout of Kingsdown in 1981 with Hinshaw as president. Hinshaw has been with Kingsdown for more than 27 years as a full–time employee and another five as the company’s CPA. Leading Kingsdown with Hinshaw is Pat Flippin, who was named president and chief operating officer in 2000.

Manufacturing, research, development, training and distribution facilities are located at Kingsdown headquarters. Other manufacturing and distribution centers are located in Winchester, Va.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Muskogee, Okla., Lakeland, Fla.; and Toronto.

Kingsdown is the only mattress manufacturer to receive the National Home Furnishings Association Award of Excellence and is a two–time winner of the Grand Trillium Award from the Ontario Furniture Manufacturers Association.

Hinshaw says the DormoDiagnostics system represents Kingsdown’s goal to innovate and be a leader in sleep help through technology. And while company officials look to the future, they’re still pausing to remember what’s important.

“We’re one of the lucky companies to last that long,” Hinshaw says of the centennial achievement. “It brings with it an obligation to care for others, which we’re doing through the Children’s Miracle Network.”

Kingsdown works an anniversary ‘miracle’

By Matt Bolch

Kingsdown is celebrating its centennial this year, and Children’s Miracle Network hospitals will benefit from a year–long fund–raising push by the manufacturer.

Called the Kingsdown Miracle Kids Campaign, shoppers at select Kingsdown dealer locations can have donations made in their names to local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals and also will have a chance to win prizes by completing a two–minute DormoDiagnostics assessment.

By taking part, shoppers will be entered in a sweepstakes for a variety of prizes. Participating dealers also will offer limited–edition Kingsdown Miracle Kids nightshirts to those who make a donation of $10 or more.

The campaign includes an October golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C., with all proceeds being donated to Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center. In addition, the five Kingsdown plants in the country will hold fundraisers.

Kingsdown makes an annual contribution to the Duke Children’s Hospital, one of 170 nonprofit Children’s Miracle Network hospitals that treat 17 million children each year. Last year’s donation was $100,000 company officials said.

“Instead of simply erecting a plaque, Kingsdown is marking our 100th anniversary by inviting consumers to join us in raising substantial funds for children who need comfort and help,” says Eric Hinshaw, Kingsdown chairman and CEO.