ISPA chairman's message

Ron Passaglia

Ron Passaglia began his career in the sleep products industry more than 40 years ago. In 2000, he received ISPA’s Robert MacMorran Memorial Award, which recognizes meritorious service to the industry. With the expiration of his term as ISPA’s chair, Passaglia has taken on the role of immediate past chair.

An investment that protects the industry’s future

Ron Passaglia, president and chief executive officer of Restonic Mattress Corp., recently stepped down as chairman of the International Sleep Products Association’s Board of Trustees. In the following interview with BedTimes, he shares some parting thoughts.

BedTimes: How did you get started in the industry and what propelled you to turn it into a career?

Passaglia: I debuted in the furniture industry as a part-time sales associate at Levitz in California. I always found myself in the mattress aisle and gravitated toward selling mattresses. It was pretty easy. All I had to do was tell people how to get a good night’s sleep—with a great mattress from Levitz—and at the end of the day, they paid me to do it. In all seriousness, I honestly believe that offering a product that improves someone’s health, expands their day-to-day performance and helps them wake up on the sunny side of life is worth investing in for a lifetime career.

Throughout my career, I’ve interfaced with suppliers, manufacturers, retailers (and now with Restonic Mattress Corp.) and, although they all have unique challenges, their core issues are very similar. When you know your customers—how they think, how they spend, what sources “speak” to them—you create opportunities to be of service. Your abilities to listen and learn are rewarded as you convert their needs into a sale at retail.

BedTimes: You’ve seen and experienced many aspects of the mattress trade first-hand. What stands out as significant to you?

Passaglia: There are so many accomplishments in this industry that it would be impossible for me to pick out just a few. But one thing that stands out, for me, is the insurgence—almost a revolution—of collaboration in the industry today. I’m inspired when I see individuals committed to working together to create success for all of us. I’m hopeful this blossoming of community values will continue—we have a stronger voice when we are all together.

BedTimes: Why did you feel it was important to serve on the ISPA board?

Passaglia: In this industry, ISPA is our community center; it’s where we collaborate, learn and grow. Regardless of what level I have served ISPA, I hope I have added value just as it has added value to my own career.

When you serve an organization like ISPA, you’re given the opportunity to create close working relationships that, in turn, generate synaptic responses and augment our collective brain trust—which, in turn, benefits our individual companies. By investing in ISPA, we help protect and nurture our own livelihoods. Plus it’s good stewardship.

And on top of everything else, it’s just plain fun.

BedTimes: Why do you think that ISPA is important to the bedding industry?

Passaglia: ISPA is the caretaker of our history, the energy that moves us closer to our vision for the future. It’s our eyes, ears and hands as we navigate the sometimes thorny issues of our industry. Working together as individuals enhances a community supportive of each other.

We serve our consumers but we’re in a day-to-day battle with other consumer goods—where we compete to stay at the top of their purchase cycle. In addition, we need to understand the industry regulation requirements through the consumer channel. We need to work together—supplier, manufacturer, retailer—to capture the hearts and minds of our consumers. This is a win, win, win situation.

Although we’re competitors, when we put on our industry hat— the ISPA hat—we can accomplish these goals.

BedTimes: What do you think the impact of the Mattress Recycling Council has been on the industry?

Passaglia: We are curators for the future of the mattress industry, and we need to be absolutely conscious of what impact our products have on the environment and what product-recycling requirements government policy makers might impose on the industry and individual mattress brands. How we regulate the disposal of our products at the end of their useful lives will help us build a strong leadership model for future business. By designing efficient, appropriate and logical alternatives for managing discarded mattresses, we will meet our legal and social obligations, control industry costs, increase sales and improve the quality of sleep for our consumers. Hey, that’s why we’re here, right? And that’s why we created the MRC, to provide a vehicle that the industry can use to explore and develop these concepts.

With growing consumer awareness, government involvement in our day-to-day business activities and consolidation occurring within the industry, there is immense pressure to perform beyond where we are today. Only truly nimble, innovative leaders will be able to meet these demands. ISPA leadership has a heritage of meeting these demands and will continue to do so over the next 100 years.

BedTimes: What do you think new members of our industry should know about ISPA?

Passaglia: With the many varied business models that exist today, individuals are taxed and challenged in ways we’ve never seen before. Working with ISPA can provide an endless fountain of information that nourishes and helps guide these business strategies.

The friendships that one develops and enjoys along the way will surprise you.  

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