By Dorothy Whitcomb
It has been a long road, but Ron Fredman has come to a place in his life where things mostly make sense. Building a fulfilling life, he has discovered, requires reflection, evaluation and commitment. An observant Jew, he sees the tenets of his religion as a benchmark for a life well lived. Prayer and poetry are the tools he uses to move his own life closer to the mark.
It hasn’t always been that way. Fredman reports living for “20 years as a bohemian.” Although he doesn’t rehash the details of those days, he makes it clear that the struggles they contained are behind him. “I like being in my skin now,” he says. “Life has become fun.”
Fun for Fredman comes in a variety of packages. Managing the growth of a third–generation family business can be intellectually, emotionally, even physically challenging, but the rewards, he says, are exhilarating. Nothing, however, beats the rewards of fatherhood. When the Fredmans adopted their son from Vietnam, life changed: “I see things through different eyes now,” Fredman says. “Every–thing becomes more interesting, and I’ve become more protective and more concerned about sending the right message.”
Business and balance Fredman sees his biggest challenge as maintaining the positive attributes of a family business, while spurring the growth needed for the business to thrive. Sales of bed frames, support systems and slatless bed rails from the Glideaway division represent close to 70% of the company’s total business, but Fredman is banking on product diversification in the form of memory foam mattresses and pillows to propel future profits. He is developing partnerships with a number of Chinese enterprises, (he showed Xilinmen–made products at a recent High Point, N.C., market) and hopes to rack up $10 million in foam sales in the next 12 to 18 months.
Poetry and prayer “The word in Hebrew for prayer means to reflect or to judge one’s self, and that’s why I write poetry,” Fredman says. In the wee hours of most mornings, Fredman sits at his computer and examines his life through verse. Sometimes the poems come in a great rush; other times they lurch to life. However they emerge, the poems help Fredman get to the truth of things. “If you peel back an event to its existential core, you will get to that core,” he says.
Favorite poets Fredman reads poetry in English, German and Hebrew. His favorites: anything by John Keats and Friedrich Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” and “Die Kunstler” (“The Artists”). He enjoys the psalms of King David in Hebrew: “They reflect a joy in God and life and a belief that man is involved in creating his own destiny.”
Strengths Fredman lists his sense of humor, his ability to think quickly and a prodigious memory.
Personal growth “I need to be better at loving my wife, to show more love and respect to my parents and learn how to get more sleep at night.”
Charity and a dream deferred Giving to charity is a basic belief of Fredman’s faith. He enjoys charity work, saying it helps maintain balance, and dreams of living on a mountain in Israel, doing good works. “I aspire to listen to my inner angels and think it would bring me more personal satisfaction than even building this business.”