BY BARBARA T. NELLES AND BETH ENGLISH
Making your bed and shipping it, too
At this busy show, there were plenty of one-stop shopping opportunities as exhibitors kept one eye on customers and the other on consumers
There was so much to see and do at ISPA EXPO 2018 March 14-16 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The editors of BedTimes were in the thick of things, buttonholing busy exhibitors to uncover their product news, networking with attendees at events and, all the while, taking copious notes. This report is the fruit of our labors.
The biennial show is the largest industrial trade event in the world focused exclusively on mattress equipment and machinery. The overall mood of the event was upbeat, traffic was good and there was plenty of news to report about mattress components and factory equipment.
One of the unusual things about this year’s show was the pervasive focus on consumers, and not just by companies like Wright Global Graphics, headquartered in Thomasville, North Carolina, which always has store shoppers in mind. From a variety of boxes for home delivery to new roll-packing technology, throughout the exhibition there was heightened awareness of the consumer and her needs. For example, Atlanta Attachment Co., based in Lawrenceville, Georgia, demonstrated the 1306 Roll-Pac Workstation that creates a perforated, easy-open seal on plastic films so consumers don’t risk cutting into the ticking of their new mattress. The plastic wrapper pulls apart with ease—and without scissors or blades.
Carthage, Missouri-based Leggett & Platt Bedding Group’s booth reminded show attendees of home with a large front door display, complete with steps and potted plants. The presentation emphasized the company’s focus on turnkey solutions for e-commerce, which include everything from ready-to-assemble foundations, easily shippable power bases, and a host of innovative innerspring units that spring back after roll packing and unboxing.
Several exhibitors teamed up with other industry suppliers to better serve mattress manufacturers looking for total solutions. For example, Hickory Springs, headquartered in Hickory, North Carolina, announced distribution partnerships with latex components maker Lien A Co. Ltd., based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and with adjustable base maker Ergomotion, with U.S. headquarters in Santa Barbara, California. Chicago-based A. Lava & Son Co. added even more to its expanding menu of products and services. It now works with Springs Creative Products Group LLC in Rock Hill, South Carolina, to distribute the company’s FR product Firegard.
In the big machinery booths, there was a focus on automation, deskilling operations and plant-monitoring systems. Making machines easier to program and operate is paramount, suppliers said. There also was an emphasis on ergonomics to reduce both repetitive- motion injuries and the handling of today’s heavier mattresses.
From springs to foams to fabrics, everything must be able to be boxed, it seems. We saw plenty of moderately priced, unfussy knits meant to recover well after being compressed, rolled and boxed.
To sum things up, Paul Block, president of sales for Leggett & Platt Inc.’s Global Systems Group, drolly commented: “We’re partnering with customers to think outside the box—who are all trying to stuff everything inside a box.”
New components and equipment highlights from the show floor
Quick and painless
Hank Little, president of Atlanta Attachment Co., demonstrated the touch-screen control for the new 1332FTS Foundation Truss Stapler. The machine fully automates stapling of truss rails, reducing workers’ compensation claims, as well as the number of operators needed to assemble foundations. Customers were happy that new equipment from the Lawrenceville, Georgia-based company addressed a range of processes throughout the factory, Little said.
A white panel with a huge yellow emblem in the center. Geometric grays. Raised curves. Boyteks Tekstil San. ve Tic. AS showcased these eye-catching fabrics and more in its booth. In addition to being artful, some of the new fabrics from the Kayseri, Turkey-based company included hemp yarn, a popular choice in European countries, said Aydin Aydin, marketing chief.
There was big news at Leggett & Platt Bedding Group, especially in pocketed coils. The Carthage, Missouri-based company extended its ActivEdge perimeter coil technology. New Nanocoil Edge microcoils “translate” the sturdy feel of L&P’s ActivEdge seat edge into the top of the bed, said Mark Kinsley, Bedding Group staff vice president of marketing. What’s more, all L&P pocket coil technology is roll-pack friendly. “Since you can’t compress and roll pack a foam-encased mattress, we wanted to develop solutions great for roll packing, with the full recovery provided by tempered innerspring steel—and no roll-off feeling, because the edge of the bed comes up in 93% of sales conversations,” Kinsley said.
Retail Mattress Solutions, based in Ball Ground, Georgia, offers everything from point-of-sale products to turnkey boxed-bed programs. President Chuck Smith showed off new stamping and bonding capabilities that enable the company to create embroidered looks without the sewing—although it also operates two cut-and-sew facilities.
Latex Global is using new injection-molding equipment to create this perforated and channeled natural latex. It’s a more durable, consistent comfort foam with enhanced breathability and superior pressure relief, said George Mathew, principal and president of the company, which has headquarters in San Ramon, California.
The Gribetz Strata from Carthage, Missouri-based Leggett & Platt Inc.’s Global Systems Group enables mattress manufacturers to perform material lamination in-house. The Strata can adhere as many as five layers of materials and cut them to width. The system uses rolls of “glue web” adhesive to laminate, for instance, bed borders consisting of cover ticking, FR fiber and backer fabric.
Eden, North Carolina-based Innofa unveiled the affordable Simplicity knit ticking collection for adding style to promotionally priced bedding. It also introduced a high-loft knit perfect for its one-piece eCovers when used on hybrid mattresses. The knit is engineered with extra fill yarn to give bed borders an insulating quilted look—without the quilting.
In addition to unveiling the 1306T Mattress Topper Packaging machine for roll packing single, finished toppers, Atlanta Attachment Co. now sells lightweight, engineered co-extruded plastic film from “virgin resin” for use with its packaging equipment. Not only is the specialty film far stronger than standard polyethylene film, it’s attractively crystal clear, as well, the Lawrenceville, Georgia-based company said.
Plenty of ‘ploof’
Paul Block, president of sales for Global Systems Group, the machinery division of Carthage, Missouri-based Leggett & Platt Inc., stands in front of the Gribetz Spectrum, a high-speed, versatile multihead quilter, which debuted at Interzum Cologne in Cologne, Germany, in 2017, and is shipping now. The quilter’s “distinct needle-control technology” allows it to sew unique shapes and patterns into a mattress quilt without requiring needle changes for new designs. GSG also introduced a related marketing campaign, “Make Mine Ploofy.” Print, video and social media ads emphasize the comfort of a quilted panel over “squishy” flat-paneled beds.
Long known for its glueless quad coils (four encased coils whose fabric pockets are ultrasonically welded together), Alvarado, Texas-based Texas Pocket Springs Technology brought something new to the show—its machinery. This piece of equipment welds two rows of pocketed coils together with heat to make a module and then cuts the module and seals the pocket to prevent the coil from being exposed. Another machine fuses the modules together—again without glue—to make a full innerspring unit.
Istanbul-based Aydin Tekstil Tic. ve Paz AS showcased two innovative fabrics—Sleep Maker, which has electrically conductive yarns (pictured here), and MagneCare—in an inviting booth with panels of eye-catching ticking lining every wall.
In its first exhibition in the United States, damask producer Maes Mattress Ticking, based in Zwevegem, Belgium, displayed a range of products using more color and natural yarns, said Bart Desmet, vice president of business development. “The new Mountain collection (pictured) has an extremely soft and silky hand due to the density of the yarns and the fabric’s finishing,” he said.
In addition to spotlighting Evocoil (pictured), which features Posturfil HD microcoils sewn into the panel fabric, Hickory, North Carolina-based Hickory Springs, announced it is distributing components from natural latex supplier Lien A Co. Ltd., headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Essence adjustable bases from Ergomotion, with U.S. headquarters in Santa Barbara, California. Hickory Springs also introduced Perceptive Sleep, a mattress program for e-commerce players. The hybrid boxed beds use a range of the company’s pocketed coils and foams—and they pair perfectly with Ergomotion’s shippable bases.
Appleton, Wisconsin-based Encapsys LLC offered samples of the scented kind. Presented in wine glasses and a muffin basket, foams with lavender aromatherapy were available for sniffing. The samples contained Encapsys’ slow-release capsules, which surround droplets of essential oil with a thin shell to provide a longer lasting scent.
Enkev Natural Fibres, with headquarters in Volendam, Netherlands, has announced an agreement to distribute natural wool fiber directly from the Wools of New Zealand growers cooperative, which consists of 850 wool growers who are guided by the Maori principle of “kaitiaki,” connoting environmental stewardship. The new offering is Enkev’s best quality wool but not its most expensive because the company has cut out several layers in the wool supply chain, said Matt Dwyer, Enkev sales director for the United Kingdom and United States.
Milliken & Co. was all about bright color as the Spartanburg, South Carolina-based company highlighted its Reactint Colorants for adding hues to polyurethane foam. Mattress manufacturers can use Reactint as part of their marketing—highlighting layers, differentiating products or tying foams into their brand colors, said Jeff Strahan, marketing strategy manager for Milliken’s performance products division. “There’s a marketing story for it, especially as online e-commerce grows, and people see the foam,” he said. In addition to deep, lasting color, Milliken can add anti-fungal and anti-microbial treatments to foam.
Wright Global Graphics displayed its turnkey solutions for fulfilling its customers’ point-of-sale, branding, label and design needs. The Thomasville, North Carolina-based company also added laser-etching capabilities, using them to create a dramatically backlit headboard for its shimmering Coreflex top-of-bed collection. “The etching machine does a lot more than etch; we use it to cut straight through a range of materials for labels, letters and more,” said Vicki Fishman, vice president of marketing. Wright’s Coreflex concept collection and a Happiness from Within top-of-bed display did a thorough job of capturing the polar opposite trends of luxurious glitz and meditative simplicity.
Casting a net
Lien A Co. Ltd. focused on its new latex, PureZZ. The lower density Dunlop-process latex is both soft and supportive, said Bret Zielenski, vice president of East Coast sales for the company, which is based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In honor of the South China Sea near its headquarters, the Lien A booth playfully displayed latex fish, representing abundance and good luck, Zielenski said.
At Maxime Knitting Inc.’s booth, most of the ticking featured variations of black, white and gray. But not this display bed. Swathed in a bright, textural terrycloth, it caught the eye of passers-by. While this bed showcased what Maxime can do, the main excitement was the company’s new look in panels, the Montreal-based company said. Maxime showcased a new flat knit with dramatic designs.
Among the news from High Point, North Carolina-based Culp Inc. was the silky-smooth Millennial collection. It offers stretch and contemporary style meant to appeal to younger consumers’ tastes. It has an affordable price perfect for boxed-bed lines, said Tara Bulla, creative director of the Culp Home Fashions division. The fabric supplier also highlighted an upscale woven collection using tissue-pick, heathered gray yarns to create an elegant embroidered look on this damask ticking.
Carthage, Missouri-based Leggett & Platt Bedding Group has created a slow-recovery microcoil. The newest member of its Nanocoil family, Bloom is “an innerspring-infused comfort layer,” according to the company. The spring is encased in an airtight fabric that is perforated along ultrasonically welded seams to allow air to gradually escape and return.
At New York-based Elfa International, lead designer Cindy Rice (left) and designer McCall Moore, who both joined the textile supplier this year, created a book outlining global fashion and design trends and introduced customers to new fabric collections—such as Urban Luxury and Futurism—exemplifying the fresh inspirations.
Elite Comfort Solutions displayed its full range of polyurethane foam formulations for mattresses, toppers and pillows, including the new Aqua Cool comfort foam that has a surface treatment with phase-change material. It keeps sleepers cooler for longer, the Newnan, Georgia-based company said.
Having it all
Ben Ducatteeuw, chief executive officer (left), and Brent Limer, chief sales officer, of Latexco U.S., based in Lavonia, Georgia, and part of Tielt, Belgium-based Latexco Group, explained the mix-and-match possibilities of the company’s broad offerings. Layers of latex and polyurethane foams can be combined with a range of coatings, additives and other treatments to create what Ducatteeuw described as “customized innovation.” He demonstrated how mattress makers can easily assemble their perfect product using Latexco’s Configurator app on a tablet.
A foam to rely on
Carpenter Co.’s next generation of comfort foam is named Rely. Creating strong airflow, Rely offers sleepers a cool environment without the enveloping feel of other foams, the Richmond, Virginia-based company said. In addition, as a high-performance foam, Rely evenly distributes weight for both comfort and support, the company said.
These new latex and hybrid cores are “wonderful,” said Bob Quickstad, director of sales and marketing for Mountain Top Foam, based in Mountain Top, Pennsylvania. His company has created a unique, poured polyurethane foam encasement for latex beds, using molds. “These have wonderful edge support and, from an FR standpoint, they can pass FR regulations with a single lightweight sock,” he said.
Brighi Tecnologie Italia s.n.c., headquartered in Forli, Italy, updated its Easy blown-pillow equipment with Easy Stitch, a state-of-the-art, semi-automatic system for closing pillows and adding a label. It’s available with both overlock and lockstitch stitching—and is demonstrated here by Brighi President Alessio Brighi.
Foams for the future
Future Foam Inc., with headquarters in Council Bluffs, Iowa, highlighted three technologies within its foam lineup. HyPurGel is a memory foam “with the resiliency of latex, the pressure relief of viscose and will maintain its form over a wide temperature range,” said Anshul Gupta, general manager of the company’s fabrication division. FutureGel, which was introduced at ISPA EXPO 2016, now has Therminium, a surface gel technology for temperature regulation. Newton is a memory foam whose comfort is unaffected by ambient temperature. It offers slow recovery and durability, which is good for roll packing, Gupta said.
Flexima Trading, based in Gallizien, Austria, sells Flexima, a unique patented nonmetal spring system for use in foam mattresses. The polymer springs are said to be perfect for humid climates because they prevent moisture buildup. Flexima springs are placed crosswise in specially channeled foam cores to allow air to circulate through the bed and to provide additional support.
Shades of blue
Oostrozebeke, Belgium-based Love Home Fabrics showcased textured, colorful ticking from several of its textile companies, including Reidsville, North Carolina-based Global Textile Alliance. The gradation of color shown in this fabric is a growing trend, said Gregory Tack, director of Love Home Fabrics.
The Hybrid collection from CT Nassau is a soft knit that mimics a jacquard with its smooth hand and quilting-friendly construction, said Jennifer Parker, national account representative for the Alamance, North Carolina-based company, which showed with parent company, Milan-based Stellini Group. Stellini’s range of one-piece woven borders with the look of cut-and-sewn knit fabrics also drew plenty of attention (pictured).
Wolfhausen, Switzerland-based FoamPartner, a supplier of specialized polyurethane and viscoelastic foams, made its debut in the U.S. market. Its colorful, contoured concept core buildups have earned it a reputation as the “Lego of the foam industry,” officials said. New EvoPore VHRC (veryhigh-resilience climate) foam is used in this buildup. It’s firm yet springy and maintains stability and support throughout the night—providing what the company called “box-spring performance.”
Just in time
From Lawrenceville, Georgia-based Atlanta Attachment Co., the new 1967-AX-IR Infrared Curing Oven for foam mattress assembly lines allows users to regulate the “dwell,” or oven time, as well as the oven temperature. This is an advantage over similar equipment because it helps reduce cure times and wait times before the next stage in product buildup or packaging, the company said.
‘Pour to Package’
Equipment supplier C3 Corp. has a new “Pour to Package” mantra, said Alex Zirbel, lead mechanical design engineer. “We started with individual packaging and laminating machinery; now we tie it all together into a complete line and are selling the C3 system.” The Appleton, Wisconsin-based company held demonstrations of the PD5496 Automatic Destacking System, which separates foam toppers as thin as ½ inch and sends them to the next stage of the lamination process.
Tietex International Ltd. provided a glimpse into the future of FR with a patent-pending concept fabric that has unusual stretch. “There is a lot of proprietary technology here. This new stitchbond is an ingenious FR barrier that does not affect the feel of the bed,” said Wade Wallace, president and chief operating officer of the Spartanburg, South Carolina-based company.
Knit supplier Tricots Liesse Inc., headquartered in Montreal, made its entrance into the bedding industry at the show. Founded in 1969, the company began as a supplier to the apparel industry. Booth visitors got a good taste of the company’s design and technical capabilities. “It’s exciting and rewarding to see the response to our new designs and fabric constructions, and also the interest in our unique activewear fabrics, which have crossover into the bedding market,” said Camilla Franklin, vice president of sales and marketing for mattress fabrics.
Show of strength
At Jumpsource, Michael Porter Jr., vice president of global sales (left), and Sam Porter, vice president of operations, showed just how strong the company’s new replacement loopers for quilting machines are. The parts supplier, based in Delray Beach, Florida, also launched Sigma Mattress Machinery Co. Ltd., which offers a line of 23 mattress manufacturing machines for everything from flanging to gluing.
Pure and simple
An eye-catching bedroom vignette outside the BekaertDeslee booth proclaimed its Color of the Year to be bronze with an ornate fabric embellished by metallic yarn. Vignettes inside the booth showcased four styles—bold Fusion, feminine Nuance, opulent Classic and neutral Pure (pictured). Amber Knight Uzzell, product manager and marketing coordinator for the Waregem, Belgium-based company, noted that Pure was on trend with a minimalist modern and earthy look.
Global Systems Group, the machinery division of Carthage, Missouri-based Leggett & Platt Inc., offered a recipe for savings with Rollflex, a sensor-controlled roll-coat adhesive machine. It is sold in partnership with Quarrata Forniture Srl, headquartered in Quarrata, Italy. When in recipe mode, the Rollflex adjusts the amount of glue applied to each layer, depending on the type of foam. By using less glue on some layers, the savings add up, the company said. Directly behind the Rollflex (not pictured) was the Sahara, an adhesive dryer that uses infrared heat to remove moisture from water-based glues.
On the edge
At ISPA EXPO 2016, UT+C introduced its Foam Pocket Spring and, this year, the company brought the Foam Pocket Spring to the edge—of the bed, that is. Called the Perimeter Plus Foam Edge, the double rows of pocketed foam surround a pocketed-coil core. The center of the construction can be made up of any pocketed foam and coil combination that can be dreamed up, the Nowe Skalmierzyce, Poland-based company said. UT+C also offers an innerspring-based Perimeter Plus with offset coils for a firmer edge.
Creative displays and special moments
The award for the most adorable and vibrantly colored booth mural goes to mattress-tape supplier Bo-Buck Mills Inc., based in Chesterfield, South Carolina. The company, which supplied all of the lanyards for this year’s ISPA EXPO, specializes in both woven and knitted tapes for artful seam closing and mattress accessorizing.
Nothing brought home the direct-to-consumer focus of ISPA EXPO 2018 more than the welcoming front door at the booth of Carthage, Missouri-based Leggett & Platt Bedding Group.
Seal of approval
Bedecked in flowers, plants and even wildlife, “Mother Natural” made a special appearance at the Jones Nonwovens booth to help explain why she approves of the many natural fibers that the Humboldt, Tennessee-based company incorporates into its products.
Chicago-based A. Lava & Son Co. and High Point, North Carolina-based Culp Inc. shared a space that, among other things, showcased the two companies’ joint venture, Culp-Lava Applied Sewn Solutions, or CLASS. A puzzle-piece concept bed with impeccable seams honored the Autism Society’s puzzle ribbon, a symbol for autism awareness.
Toronto-based Fine Cotton Factory Inc. drew attention to its most fashion-forward fabrics by draping them on a mannequin.
Let them eat cupcakes
Showgoers helped celebrate the 10th anniversary of CertiPUR-US with Helen Sullivan, (left) CertiPUR-US communications counsel, and Executive Director Michael Crowell, who handed out scrumptious cupcakes. The Rochester Hills, Michigan-based program is administered by the nonprofit Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam Inc.
This two-story Love Home Fabrics booth first appeared at Interzum Cologne in Cologne, Germany, in 2017, and crossed the ocean to ISPA EXPO 2018. There was as much lounging room in the elaborate space as in many homes, which made sense as Love Home Fabrics, based in Oostrozebeke, Belgium, is the brand umbrella for a host of home textile and comfort foam companies (including latex supplier Artilat and textile suppliers Global Textile Alliance and Monks International) owned by entrepreneur Luc Tack.
Walk on air
Springs Creative Products Group LLC showed off its in-house services—from printing to bandanas—at a booth that was made entirely in-house, said Caroline Reeves, product manager for the Rock Hill, South Carolina-based company. BedTimes particularly liked the cloud carpet and Reeves’ matching skirt. Springs Creative created the floor fabric by printing on an upholstery textile and bonding it to AirSkin spacer fabric.
AEC Narrow Fabrics, with headquarters in Asheboro, North Carolina, drew attention to its mattress tapes by using them to decorate throw pillows scattered around its booth. We especially liked the classic Greek key pattern.
Networking opportunities abounded
Excitement filled the NASCAR Hall of Fame during the Welcome Reception
Borreggine and Steelman honored at ISPA Industry Breakfast
T-shirt entrepreneur Johnny ‘Cupcakes’ inspires and amuses with his story
A recipe for success
T-shirt brand entrepreneur Johnny “Cupcakes” Earle ended the ISPA Industry Breakfast with his story about how he created a thriving viral business, the eponymous Johnny Cupcakes, headquartered in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Some takeaways: Humor is contagious. Good packaging goes a long way. Your brand DNA is your story. Your business card and website are extensions of your personality. Send notes to your customers. And, finally, “if you want customer loyalty, you have to be loyal to your customers.”
Up close and personal
After his talk, Johnny “Cupcakes” Earle set up a table to sell T-shirts and took time to talk to breakfast attendees, such as Mark Kinsley, staff vice president of marketing for Carthage, Missouri-based Leggett & Platt Bedding Group.
Bob Steelman, vice president of sales and marketing for Richmond, Virginia-based Carpenter Co., was honored with the Robert MacMorran Memorial Award for his outstanding service to the mattress industry. “I love the bedding industry,” he said. “More importantly, I love the people in this industry. I am very honored to be recognized by ISPA this way. ISPA has been an important advocate for the bedding industry during my entire 40-plus-year career.”
Gerry Borreggine, president and chief executive officer of Therapedic International in Princeton, New Jersey, earned the Russell L. Abolt Exceptional Service Award after being nominated by his peers for exemplifying the highest level of career dedication and commitment to the betterment of the bedding industry. Borreggine is a former ISPA chair. He also has served on nearly every ISPA group, including the Better Sleep Council, the Executive Committee and the Finance Committee. In his spare time, he performs with the industry band, the Insomniaczzz.