Industry Refuels in Florida

Biennial ISPA conference features a compelling program, plenty of camaraderie — and perfect weather

Photography by Rose Fleming

The 2019 ISPA Industry Conference hosted by the International Sleep Products Association lived up to its reputation as the perfect combination of education, networking opportunities and fun in the sun. The biennial event held at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg, Florida, March 13-14, featured a whirlwind schedule that kept attendees busy — and smiling — for two days straight.

“The Industry Conference is unlike any other event in that it exemplifies what this trade association is all about,” said Mary Helen Rogers, ISPA vice president of marketing and communications. “Our attendees are the ones who support ISPA and its mission, which is all about lifting up each other and the industry as a whole. This year’s event felt extra special as these are changing — and challenging — times and the business leaders who attended reaped many benefits. They had plenty of opportunities to share ideas, learn new strategies for creating future successes, and build stronger relationships with their peers and their customers.”

Golfing, receptions and parties were on the agenda, as was a full slate of timely business sessions and speakers. Attendees represented a mix of bedding manufacturers, suppliers and retailers. They went home with new tools, new thinking and strengthened industry relationships.

This year’s program began with the ISPA Golf Tournament at the Vinoy’s 18-hole course. The tournament was sponsored by Outlast Technologies, and a portion of proceeds was earmarked for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. 

Next up, the ISPA Women’s Network held a “flamingle” reception. The theme was pink flamingos, and the crowd of industry women gathered outside on the patio to chat, sip pink bubbly and nibble hors d’oeuvres. Wright Global Graphics sponsored the event, and it also had a giving theme. Attendees had been encouraged to pack a donation of women’s clothing or travel toiletries for a local women’s shelter.

The Wednesday evening Welcome Reception, sponsored by Atlanta Attachment Co. and Hickory Springs, featured drinks, hors d’oeuvres and a first chance to meet with event exhibitors who ringed the hall.

Attendees awoke early Thursday and headed back over for a hearty breakfast. Breakfast and lunch were sponsored by Logicdata.

The opening keynote address was delivered by motivational speaker Capt. Mike Abrashoff. Never say, “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” said the former commander of the USS Benfold and author of the best-selling “It’s Your Ship.” His inspirational talk was sponsored by the CertiPUR-US Certification Program, and he urged listeners to achieve breakthrough performance by empowering those around them to think and act differently.

Using a lot of audience participation, Bob Phibbs, also known as The Retail Doctor, showed the crowd how to hit reset and stop living in the past in order to develop new strategies for stressful times. 

Then, ISPA President Ryan Trainer led a panel discussion on the current regulatory and business environment for the sleep products industry. Topics included the shifting dynamic at retail, the status of the anti-dumping petition on mattresses from China and an update on activities at the state level that could affect mattress flammability standards.

Latexco U.S. Holdings LLC was the sponsor of a rousing closing keynote delivered by celebrated quarterback Joe Theismann. The Super Bowl champ, NFL MVP, former broadcaster and successful entrepreneur began with a football toss to some key players in the room and then delivered his “Game Plan for Success.” Some key takeaways were the importance of teamwork and of being “stronger together,” a philosophy that fits right in with ISPA’s mission, Theismann said. He advised listeners to “know yourself — and then do things that make you uncomfortable — it will keep you sharp and keep you growing.”

The 2019 ISPA Industry Conference concluded with a fun-filled outdoor party and dinner with a Nantucket theme. Sponsored by Leggett & Platt Inc., the event began in the sunny late afternoon on a grassy overlook on the bay. There was live music, games like croquet and pingpong, drinks, and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a seafood dinner that continued as the stars came out.

Enjoy these photo galleries from the event. The editors of BedTimes extend our sincerest thanks to Rose Fleming of MFI International for her excellent camera work.

Day One Fun

Women in the sleep products industry got their “flamingle” on at the ISPA Women’s Network reception

1. Group photo

2. Vicki Fishman of Wright Global Graphics, Sandy Brown of Culp Inc.
and ISPA’s Deb Chapman

3. ISPA’s Kerri Bellias and Wright Global Graphics’ Kim Grubb

4. Joanne Mattiace of the law offices of Joanne E. Mattiace, Tempur Sealy International Inc.’s Martha Caywood and Carol Pollack-Nelson of Independent Safety Consultants LLC

ISPA Golf Tournament

  1. Adam Lava of A. Lava & Son. Co.; The Bedding Group’s Jeffrey Sherman with wife, Tana; and Mike Urquhart of Future Foam
  2. Jim Thomas of Linak U.S. Inc., FXI Inc.’s John Stowe, Bryan Smith of Southerland Inc. and SABA North America’s Kevin McGuire
  3. Mattress Recycling Council’s Mike O’Donnell
  4. Jim Cande of WestRock, Enso Sleep’s Mark Akerman, Alexium’s Steve Gravlee and Colonial’s Derek Ritzel
  5. Jimmy Fleming of Tietex International Ltd. with Jomel’s Lila Walker and Phil Iuliano
  6. Latexco U.S. Holdings LLC’s Brent Limer, NCFI Polyurethanes’ Dan Manning and Alexium’s Chris Carter
  7. Talalay Global’s Jeff Gober and Michael Tilki with ISPA’s Mary Helen Rogers
  8. Outlast’s Guy Eckert, Carpenter Co.’s Dan Schecter, Serta Simmons Bedding LLC’s Kevin Fealy and Franz Nowak of Elevance Renewable Sciences

Learning Experiences

1. ISPA President Ryan Trainer opens the program.

2. Capt. Mike Abrashoff presents the keys to achieving breakthrough performance.

3. “When your people feel empowered, they take ownership and responsibility,” Abrashoff said.

4. “What you focus on becomes reality,” said speaker Bob Phibbs, The Retail Doctor, so stop with the negative thinking.

5. Time to stand up and practice looking at things from a new perspective.

6. Phibbs’ audience happily casts aside bad thoughts.

Closing Keynote

1. Ben Ducatteeuw, Evi Brilleman and Brent Limer of Latexco U.S. Holdings LLC with closing keynoter and NFL great Joe Theismann

2. “When is the last time you congratulated yourself?” Theismann asked.

3. Theismann begins his presentation by passing footballs to lucky audience members.

4. Leggett & Platt Inc.’s Eric Rhea meets Theismann.

5. Pass complete to Furniture Today’s Dave Perry.

6. ISPA’s Ryan Trainer (far right) leads a panel discussion on the current business environment with (from left) Lane Hochschwanger of the American Chemistry Council Inc., Yohai Baisburd of Cassidy Levy Kent (USA) LLP and Raymond James’ Bobby Griffin.

Mixing and Mingling

1. Kevin McGuire, Roman Torres and Andy Schaaf of SABA North America with Gary Del Matto of Encapsys LLC

2. Kim Grubb of Wright Global Graphics, Helen Sullivan of CertiPUR-US Certification Program and Sabrina Kilmer of William T. Burnett & Co.

3. Hickory Springs’ Mark Jones; ISPA’s Ryan Trainer; and Danette Little, Randy Clark and Hank Little of Atlanta Attachment Co.

4. Wade Wallace and Jimmy Fleming of Tietex International Ltd.

5. Kevin Vandaveer of Georgia-Pacific, Scott Tinsley of Serta Simmons Bedding LLC, Matt Anderson of Elite Comfort Solutions and Adrian Quigg of Georgia-Pacific

6. Travis Bouck, Mark Jones and Michael Hinshaw of Hickory Springs

1. Harry Bajakian of Simalfa/Kulkote proves his pingpong prowess.

2. David Grove and John Grove Jr. of Spring Air Mattress Corp. with Wes Keever of Colonial LLC

3. Jason Kelley (in front) of Park Place Corp. and David Schwantes of Sleep Number Corp.

4. Bob Steelman of Carpenter Co. and Michael Crowell of CertiPUR-US Certification Program

5. Michael Faus of Carpenter Co., Gerry Borreggine of Therapedic International and Jim O’Donnell of Tempur Sealy International Inc.

6. Sunset at the Industry Conference Reception and Dinner