Despite California’s battered economy and stiff competition among mattress producers, Diamond Mattress is going strong.
The Rancho Dominguez–based company says it is the largest independent mattress producer in California, with 100 employees and a 100,000–square–foot manufacturing facility capable of producing more than 1,000 pieces a day. Vertically integrated, Diamond cuts its own foam and manufactures its own wrapped coil units.
The family–owned business is moving forward by linking the energy and enthusiasm of a tech–savvy fourth generation with the conservative business practices, commitment to quality and customer service, and strong family values that have sustained it since its founding in 1946.
Out of misery
Emerging from the dual hardships of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, the story of Diamond Mattress is a quintessentially American rags–to–riches tale. In 1929, Jim and Pearl Pennington were living in Oklahoma with their infant son, Richard, when Jim’s family mattress business closed and Pearl’s family farm went under.
Without prospects, Jim set out for California to find work. In 1938, he started a sideline, making foundations for local mattress manufacturers out of his garage. With his day job and the second line of work providing income, he sent for his wife and son to join him in California.
With their foundation business sustaining the family and growing, the Penningtons were able to purchase mattress producer Diamond Mattress in 1946 and son Richard joined the business full time in 1954. In the 1970s, Diamond began its transition to the third generation when Richard’s son, Randy, began working for the company. Today, Randy serves as Diamond Mattress president and the fourth Pennington generation is involved—Randy’s son, Shaun, is vice president and his daughter, Breana, is general manager.
“They bring so much to the company,” Randy Pennington says. “Their energy and enthusiasm just make it fun to come to work every day.”
The fourth generation is busy making its mark on the company.
Shortly after joining the company about three years ago, Breana Pennington introduced an Enterprise Resource Planning system that has allowed Diamond to streamline its production process and reduce costs. (ERP is a software–based business system that uses database technology to integrate all aspects of a manufacturing process.)
“We’ve always been efficient, but ERP takes us to a new level of efficiency,” she says. “It’s so much easier to get new product into the system and follow the manufacturing flow. We have 400 active SKUs and can now make any of them within an hour.”
The system also has improved information flow to Diamond’s customers and sales representatives.
“Our customers can now track their orders through the Internet in real time and soon will be able to place orders online,” Breana says. “The sales reps can also track orders and, by pulling up customer information, see what their accounts have been buying and what’s moving.”
Shaun Pennington led development of the company’s new website, www.diamondmattress.com. Designed to be used by both consumers and retailers, the site is part of the company’s overall strategy to enhance its brand and increase its retailer base.
The site includes a utility that allows retailers to develop and update their own page within the site with profile information, logos, photos, special promotions and news. Consumers can order information kits about the company’s mattresses and receive samples of components. Consumers also can receive mattress recommendations by taking a survey and learn more about sleep issues, mattress life cycles, product care and other issues.
“Eighty percent of shoppers go online before buying a mattress,” Shaun says. “That’s why we invested heavily in building confidence in the Diamond brand while effectively driving those shoppers to our retailers.”
Breana and Shaun’s innovations have the full support of their father.
“Their knowledge of computers has taken our systems to a whole new level and really helped us to grow,” Randy says.
He continues: “It’s important to try new things and to be innovative and progressive. Sometimes you make mistakes and that’s OK as long as you learn from them. That’s how I learned from my dad.”
The extended family
At Diamond, close relationships extend beyond the bonds of biology.
“We try to treat our employees like family,” Randy says. “We’re together eight to 10 hours daily, which is more time than many employees spend at home. They know that if there is an issue, my door is always open.”
Shaun adds: “There is no rigid hierarchical structure here. Employees get time off if they need it for their families and the rest of us pick up the slack. We know each other well. It’s typical for someone to be here 10 to 15 years. Our office manager has been here for 45 years and we have one employee who started working here with my great–grandmother.”
The Penningtons bring the same flexible, caring approach to their relationships with customers. They call it “the Diamond Difference”—summed up as quality products and service offered within a culture of integrity and family values.
“We try to make a difference for and partner with our retailers and suppliers. It’s about relationships,” Randy says. “When we say we’ll do something, we’ll do everything in our power to do it. They can trust us.”
From foundations to toppers
Diamond’s diverse product line allows it to meet a wide variety of retailer and consumer needs.
The company introduced two major new bedding brands in January while showing at the Las Vegas Market for the first time. The Cool Touch memory foam and Ethos latex collections both feature Diamond’s Direct Contact design, which eliminates quilting in the top layers to put sleepers closer to the performance materials in the bed.
“The revolutionary performance of this design will impact all of our products in the future,” Shaun says.
Full–line manufacturer Diamond Mattress has a
broad product line that includes specialty foam,
hybrid and innerspring mattresses, many with
environmentally friendly components that tell
a ‘green’ story.
The new collections also further Diamond’s commitment to environmental responsibility. Cool Touch products feature CertiPUR–US–certified polyurethane foams with plant–based content and Okeo–Tex–certified fabrics. In addition to those components, the Ethos line also includes fabrics that meet the Global Organic Textile Standard and wool that conforms to the Oregon Tilth Certified Organic standard.
Cool Touch beds have suggested retail prices between $799 and $1,899 for queen sets. Ethos beds range from $999 to $2,999.
Diamond offers a number of specialty, hybrid and innerspring beds, including the all–foam DM Kids collection, under its Diamond Mattress brand. Bed sets in the company’s best–selling Generations collection, which features pocketed coils and high–density visco–elastic foam, range in price from $599 to $899 in queen.
Diamond has been a Lady Americana licensee since the brand was launched in 1982. Richard Pennington helped fund the brand and Diamond is a founding partner in the licensing group.
Diamond also produces a full range of sleep accessories—from adjustable bases to mattress toppers, pillows and the Safety Shield mattress protector.
“Although we’ve always had adjustable bases, we started offering other accessories two years ago. They are definitely growing as a percentage of sales, especially the Safety Shield, which is our best–selling accessory,” Breana says.
Although Diamond Mattress produces some contract bedding, the company distributes most of its products through furniture and bedding specialty stores.
Projects to grow on
The company is clearly in a growth mode and its new marketing initiatives—including the website and the company’s debut at the Las Vegas Market—are part of that effort.
“We’ve revamped our look and developed a more cohesive marketing package,” Breana says. “We’re sending out press releases and starting to focus on the benefits of our products, as well as their features.”
Diamond also is considering expanding production. The company has brought workers in on Saturdays to produce pocketed coils and is evaluating the need for a second shift.
“Adding another factory will happen down the road,” Randy says. “We’re in discussions all over the country and are keeping our eyes open for opportunities.”
But don’t expect the Penningtons to act impulsively. An aversion to long–term debt and a commitment to keeping costs down have been passed down through the generations.
“This is a good time to buy, but a harder time to hold onto what you buy,” Randy says. “We have a proven strategy. The way we run our business works.”
Company Diamond Mattress
Specialty Vertically integrated mattress and sleep accessories producer
Headquarters Rancho Dominguez, Calif.
Facilities A single 100,000–square–foot manufacturing plant that can produce 1,000 pieces a day
Roots After making foundations for other mattress manufacturers for several years, Jim and Pearl Pennington bought Diamond Mattress in 1946.
Ownership Privately held, family–run
Learn more www.diamondmattress.com