Mattress industry newsmakers

Bekaert Textiles names president, marketing head

Bekaert Textiles, a supplier of decorative home fabrics and mattress tickings with headquarters in Waregem, Belgium, has promoted Paul DeMeulemeester to president and chief executive officer following the retirement of Michel Bekaert.

Bekaert’s career at Bekaert Textiles spanned 39 years. He assumed the presidency in 1993. DeMeulemeester is a 32–year veteran of the company who previously was general manager of Bekaert Mattress Ticking with responsibility for operations in Belgium and Germany.

Dirk Vandeplancke, president and general manager of Bekaert USA in Winston–Salem, N.C., reports to DeMeulemeester.

“I look forward to working closely with Paul in continuing to build Bekaert USA’s market share in North America,” Vandeplancke said.

In addition, Bekaert has hired Hans Nicasy to be worldwide marketing manager for ticking, a newly created executive position. Nicasy’s background includes 14 years at Raychem N.V. as European sales manager and as business development manager in China for Picañol, a manufacturer of weaving machines.

“The addition of Nicasy to our management team should increase the cohesion of our global marketing and product development efforts,” Vandeplancke said.

Scott Nelles, commercial manager and vice president of sales at Bekaert USA, works closely with Nicasy and continues to report to Vandeplancke.

“He (Nicasy) brings a wealth of experience in international sales and marketing, product development and strategic planning. We look forward to his support of our efforts,” Nelles said.

Flexible Foam announces marketing VP

Flexible Foam Products has promoted industry veteran Michael Crowell to vice president of marketing. He previously was vice president of sales for the company’s automotive components division.

Crowell has more than 30 years of experience in the urethane foam industry, including various senior–level sales, marketing and product development positions with Foamex International. In his new role at Flexible Foam Products, he is responsible for coordinating and overseeing corporate marketing activities, product branding, new product positioning and strategic marketing for each of the company’s core foam divisions: automotive, bedding, flooring, furniture and packaging.

“We are extremely pleased and excited to have Michael in this position,” said Lewie Moeller, president of Ohio Dec Plastics Group, the parent company of Spencerville, Ohio–based Flexible Foam. “Mike’s experience within the urethane foam industry and knowledge of Flexible Foam’s sales and marketing makes him a perfect fit with our broad, customer–driven approach.”

Sealy Canada promotes Bachicha
Louis Bachicha has been named vice president and chief operating officer of Sealy Canada.

Bachicha joined Sealy’s sales department 20 years ago. Since then, he has moved through the organization, holding positions as field sales manager, district sales manager and, most recently, vice president of sales for the east region.

In his new role, Bachicha is responsible for all business functions in Canada and oversees three Sealy manufacturing plants in Edmonton, Alberta; St. Narcisse, Quebec; and Toronto, where he will be based. Bachicha replaces Tony Smith, who resigned to pursue other opportunities.

“Throughout his career, Louis has demonstrated strong leadership and an ability to grow his customers’ business and Sealy’s business,” said Larry Rogers, president of Sealy Inter–national Bedding Group. “We are confident that Louis will continue to grow our Canadian market share, while providing the continuity in leadership that this business requires.”

L&P makes changes at consumer unit

The departure of Terry Bowen, president of Leggett & Platt’s Consumer Products Unit, has prompted personnel and reporting structure changes within its divisions.

In his post, Bowen oversaw several key categories: the Fashion Bed Group, Steel Bedding Support Products, Coated Fabrics, Leggett & Platt Adjustable Beds and Orthomatic Adjustable Beds.

Bowen left Leggett & Platt “to pursue other life challenges,” according to the bedding and component supplier, which is based in Carthage, Mo.

With Bowen’s departure, Dennis Park has been promoted to vice president of Leggett & Platt and president of the newly formed Home Furniture and Consumer Products Group. Ron Ainsworth, president of the Fashion Bed Group and Steel Bedding Support Products, now reports to Park to better align the consumer and fashion focus of those groups.

In addition, Robert Weber, president of the Coated Fabrics division, now reports to Jerry Greene, president of Hanes Companies.

Michael Newman, president of the Leggett & Platt Adjustable Beds division, and Adam Weinman, president of Orthomatic Adjustable Beds, report to Paul Hauser, vice president of Leggett & Platt and president of the Bedding Group.

Sealy’s Hobson takes new post

Mark Hobson has been named vice president of sales—east for Sealy. In the role, he is responsible for managing sales in the eastern United States.

For the past three years, Hobson has led Sealy’s marketing department. He has been with the Archdale, N.C.–based company for 20 years.

“With his cross–functional experience, we’ll now look to Mark to leverage the marketing and product development knowledge he has gained to make an even more significant contribution to our overall growth,” said Dave McIlquham, Sealy chairman and chief executive officer.

A national search is under way to fill the senior vice president of marketing position. Until then, Hobson will oversee current marketing plans.

Industry veteran Roy Unger dies
Retired bedding executive and industry leader Roy Unger died Aug. 16 in Ithaca, N.Y. He was 83.

Unger spent 56 years in the bedding business and was a true pioneer in the industry. He started his career with Sealy, beginning as a sales manager with the company’s Ohio affiliate in 1948 and moving to Sealy national in 1964 where he was vice president of sales, marketing and international operations. Unger played a major role in the development and marketing of the Posturepedic brand and in Sealy’s rise to the No. 1 position in the industry.

In 1981, he left Sealy to join Serta as president and chief executive officer and led the company to new prominence. He retired in 1990 but continued to serve as a consultant to a number of bedding companies, including Simmons.

Unger was active with the International Sleep Products Association throughout his career. He helped to found the Better Sleep Council in the late 1970s and served as its second president in the early 1980s. Though he had officially retired from the bedding business, he remained involved with the BSC, serving as chairman emeritus during the past 10 years.

“Roy Unger got it before most of us made the connection,” said Gerry Borreggine, chairman of the BSC and president of Therapedic USA. “He saw that linking a good night’s sleep to a new mattress set would not only improve the prospects of selling new mattresses, but it would also improve the likelihood that the consumer would invest in a higher quality mattress. … Roy’s contribution to the industry was so dramatic and so significant. He had such positive and wonderful impact on our industry. He was truly the ambassador of the bedding business, and we are going to miss him.”

Unger was a recipient of two of ISPA’s top awards. In 1986 he was presented with the Robert MacMorran Memorial Award, which recognizes individuals in active pursuit of meritorious service to the sleep products industry. Four years later, he was presented with the Russell Abolt Exceptional Service Award.

“Roy was one of the first industry representatives that I met upon joining ISPA, and I could tell right from the start that he was someone very special,” said Dick Doyle, ISPA president and chief executive officer. “I feel privileged that I had the opportunity to get to know Roy. He was always very upbeat and forward looking, and his insights and enthusiasm will certainly be missed.”

Unger also was involved with the National Sleep Foundation, serving on its board since 2003.

As news of Unger’s death reached the industry, ISPA received several emails and calls from manufacturers and suppliers with warm remembrances of Unger and condolences for his family.

Unger’s wife, Grace, whom he met when they were students at Cornell University in Ithaca, preceded him in death. His survivors include sons James, Steven and John, daughter Susan; grandchildren Robyn and Annie; brother Allan; sister Lois Horvitz and brother–in–law James Friedman.

Funeral services were held Aug. 20 at the Tikvah Congregation in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Interment was in Shalom Memorial Park in Arlington Heights, Ill. The family requests that memorials be made to the charity of the donor’s choice.


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