Association looks towards tomorrow to better serve members as they navigate a swiftly changing business climate.
Last year, the International Sleep Products Association celebrated its centennial—an extraordinary milestone for any organization. ISPA finds itself in a strong position as it embarks on its next 100 years, thanks to decades of commitment from its members and sound decisions by its industry leadership.
“As we enter our next 100 years, ISPA’s membership is at its highest level in more than 10 years, our finances are solid, and our leadership team and staff are engaged and dedicated,” says ISPA President Ryan Trainer.
ISPA’s 100th anniversary coincides with a period in which manufacturing and retail are undergoing rapid change. To make sure that the ISPA of tomorrow has the focus and ability to continue to address both current and future challenges, ISPA’s board and staff undertook a nine-month process in 2015 to plan ahead, building on ISPA’s history, strengths and successes.
“Our goal was to answer this question: How can ISPA best serve its members as they encounter, adapt to and thrive in this swiftly changing business environment?” Trainer says.
Aided by consultants with Cygnet Strategy LLC, ISPA gathered feedback from member surveys, phone interviews and leadership meetings to understand how the association can remain a relevant, effective and resilient organization for current and future members. After considering this input, ISPA’s Board of Trustees approved an updated mission, vision and strategic plan to better reflect the evolving industry and guide the services that ISPA provides its members.
Leading ISPA into this new era is a mission statement that, Trainer says, “defines a simple purpose for the association.”
ISPA Mission: Lead and advance the interests of the sleep products industry.
The ISPA board also revised the association’s vision, providing an “inspiring strategic direction” that ISPA and its members can use to succinctly explain and reiterate the association’s purpose to consumers, the media and other constituents.
ISPA Vision: Helping the world sleep better.
“Updating the mission and vision statements was necessary to complete the strategic plan,” says ISPA Chair Bryan Smith, explaining that both statements will help guide and direct ISPA as it moves forward. Smith is president and chief executive officer of Southerland, a mattress manufacturer based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Jim Nation, an ISPA board member and an executive adviser to the Serta mattress brand (part of Atlanta-based Serta Simmons Bedding Co. LLC) calls the new mission and vision statements “a more modern approach” to ISPA’s purpose and guiding principles.
A plan to move ISPA forward
Along with crafting a new mission and vision, the ISPA board identified five strategic goals—and key objectives for each—that will guide improvements to association programs and initiatives.
“A strategic plan is important to any organization, but especially to an association like ISPA, which is made up of hundreds of members who have different wants and needs,” Smith says. “There has to be a selection process to pick the proper initiatives for the organization to pursue. The plan is the outcome of the selection process and serves as a way to communicate key initiatives to members and make sure all are aligned with the vision of the association.”
Adam Lava agrees the new strategic plan is an important roadmap for the association.
“Our industry is changing rapidly and the membership relies on its leaders to guide the association in a positive direction to help all of its members. Without a thought-out plan that has been well-discussed and agreed upon by its board and the membership at-large, we will not reach our goal of growing the mattress industry, thus making us all more successful businesses,” says Lava, an ISPA board member and owner and vice president of A. Lava & Son, a supplier of bedding components, contract quilting and contract sewing based in Chicago.
Richard Ayers, an ISPA board member, also sees the strategic plan as a necessary and vital driving force for the association’s activities moving forward.
“The strategic plan clearly articulates the goals of the association for the benefit of its members. It is the foundation and framework for the future,” says Ayers, chief executive officer and chief financial officer for the Jones Family of Companies, an industry supplier based in Humboldt, Tennessee, that makes yarns, nonwovens and other products.
Specifically, the plan focuses on goals related to data and knowledge, the consumer, advocacy, inclusion, and organizational health. (An important note about the structure and formatting of ISPA’s strategic plan: The numbers for goals are for reference only and do not indicate priority. Goals are followed by objectives. Bold indicates priority objectives that the association plans to address first because they are expected to have the greatest impact on achieving the overall goal.)
Goal 1 – Data and Knowledge
ISPA will provide intelligence essential to industry success.
- 1.1 – Increase and improve data collection in response to changing market conditions.
- 1.2 – Increase credibility of data collected.
- 1.3 – Build and disseminate all channels of sales data.
- 1.4 – Improve data delivery.
- 1.5 – Increase industry knowledge.
Lava says it’s important that as ISPA tackles each goal and its objectives, an emphasis be kept on practical, meaningful applications to the mattress industry and the companies that make it a vital, thriving sector.
“I hope the leadership and staff will find ways to achieve these goals that will apply to real-business-world applications,” Lava says. “For instance, I want the data that we collect to actually trigger action and not just be numbers on a spreadsheet. I want to actively try to bring more of the industry into the membership and have more interaction from its members.”
Goal 2 – The Consumer
ISPA will enhance the industry’s understanding and responsiveness to consumer trends and needs.
- 2.1 – Improve knowledge of consumer trends.
- 2.2 – Improve perception of the value of a good night’s sleep and the role of mattresses and other sleep products.
The goals in the strategic plan work in concert. For example, Trainer says, market intelligence gathered in pursuit of Goal 1 (Data and Knowledge) will be valuable in helping ISPA members better understand and respond to consumers’ needs, the focus of Goal 2.
Jim O’Donnell, an ISPA board member and vice president of sales and development for mattress major Tempur Sealy International, which has headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, sees “ISPA’s intention to focus on the consumer” as a “significant objective.” “As we all know, it’s the consumer and their willingness to invest in a mattress as part of their overall well-being that helps drive industry success,” he says.
Goal 3 – Advocacy
ISPA will proactively shape legislation and regulations affecting the industry.
- 3.1 – Identify the opportunities that affirmatively advance the industry’s interests.
- 3.2 – Continue to respond to threats to the industry.
Since its inception, ISPA has taken an active role in advocating at the local, state and federal levels to create a regulatory environment that has allowed the mattress industry to grow and prosper.
“In my opinion, ISPA’s most impactful long-term role is advocacy with government legislation. ISPA provides a service to companies that, on their own, don’t have the resources to address these matters,” says Eric Rhea, an ISPA board member and vice president of Leggett & Platt Inc. and president of L&P’s Bedding Group. L&P has headquarters in Carthage, Missouri.
O’Donnell points to the inclusion of advocacy in the strategic plan as “a renewed commitment to proactively shape legislation and regulations on behalf of our industry.” In terms of advocacy, “I believe ISPA has done a wonderful job on behalf of the industry and I trust this commitment will continue well into the future,” O’Donnell says.
Although advocacy related to key legislative and regulatory benefits will remain a key part of ISPA’s member benefits, the board wants ISPA to identify and pursue other opportunities in which the association can advocate on the industry’s behalf. As Lava says, “I want the advocacy to be both on a government level but also to advocate better for our product, which is better sleep.”
ISPA will be the home for collaborative industry interaction.
- 4.1 – Explore opportunities to expand membership to the greater sleep products industry, including retailers and other related entities.
- 4.2 – Broaden ISPA’s involvement beyond the traditional bedding community.
- 4.3 – Identify opportunities that advance international collaboration.
Underlying each goal in ISPA’s strategic plan is the board of trustee’s recognition that the association must adapt to the mattress industry’s ever-changing business environment.
Nation sees the inclusion goal as addressing one of the most significant changes the industry is facing today. “It’s fair to say that there is a blurring of players today: the consolidation of ownership of major brands, combined with manufacturers and suppliers moving into direct-to-consumer sales through the internet and the whole host of new players jumping into the boxed-bed category,” he says. “The strategic plan (and Goal 4) will help outline how ISPA will serve this changing environment.”
ISPA will advance this goal using a mix of tactics. For example, to give ISPA the flexibility to modify its membership rules as the association responds to market changes, ISPA members in July approved bylaw amendments recommended by the board that authorize the board, when necessary, to define new categories of members, as well as their rights and obligations, within broad parameters. This allows the ISPA membership to expand, as warranted, to adapt as the environment in which mattresses and other sleep products are sourced, assembled, sold and distributed continues to evolve. In addition, the bylaw amendments expand the maximum size of the ISPA board by two seats, from 24 to 26, in case an expanded membership base warrants additional representatives on the board.
ISPA also will consider other ways in which the association can engage with other segments of the industry as part of its efforts to advance both the inclusion goal and other goals in the strategic plan.
Goal 5 – Organizational Health
ISPA will have sufficient revenue, industry support and management resources to meet our goals.
- 5.1 – Diversify revenue and maintain financial stability.
- 5.2 – Increase industry support and participation.
“Financial stability is critical. ISPA is in a strong financial position and the success of the organization going forward in all these other areas depends on maintaining a solid financial base,” says Ron Passaglia, an ISPA board member and president and chief executive officer of Buffalo, New York-based licensing group Restonic.
Now that the board has approved the new strategic plan, the goals and objectives will guide ISPA’s future actions and initiatives, including its planning and budgeting priorities for 2017.
Rhea points to a recent executive committee meeting in which all agenda items were discussed in terms of the goals and objectives of the strategic plan. It’s a small thing, he says, but one that shows how the plan already is shaping the day-to-day activities of the association.
“To best serve our members, it’s essential we provide ISPA staff clear direction on projects and initiatives that benefit our industry. The board worked hard to develop a thoughtful strategic plan that points us in the right direction. It’s important we revisit that roadmap to ensure we are on track,” he says.
Going forward, Passaglia believes the strategic plan will be a “rallying point” for both ISPA membership and the broader industry.
“As we develop new programs based on the plan and benchmark our progress, it will give us stability and insight,” he says. “I don’t see it as a static document. It’s defined and focused but it has room to allow us to develop as we proceed into our future.”
A particular strength of the strategic plan moving forward, Ayers says, is that it was created with broad input from ISPA’s most important constituency, its members.
“The strategic plan has been developed from the input of ISPA’s membership,” he says. “The plan clearly defines the areas for improvement that have been identified by the membership and will advance the association and the sleep products industry.”