Australian mattress manufacturer A.H. Beard, headquartered in Sydney, recently celebrated its 120th anniversary.
Founded in 1899 as The Australian Bedding Mill by Enoch William Beard, the fourth-generation, family-owned company is committed to quality, integrity and craftsmanship, said Allyn Beard, company director. “When you consider that less than 4% of companies survive four generations, you realize what an achievement this is.”
Allyn Beard and his brother, Garry, helm the business, and members of the fifth generation also are actively involved.
A.H. Beard employs 400 craftspeople at seven manufacturing plants and sells beds in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere around the world.
In addition to manufacturing its own range of brands, the company licensed the King Koil brand in the 1970s.
“We are extremely passionate about what we do, and that passion has attracted quality people that have taken this business to another level,” Garry Beard said.
The company boasts a high employee retention rate, with most employees having been with the company for at least 15 years.
Chief Executive Officer Tony Pearson said it is important that employees feel part of the family. “(With) a product that’s highly handmade, you need experience, so looking at strategies to retain and then motivate employees is critical,” he said.
Neville Middleton has been with the business for 42 years, working with three out of the five Beard generations. He has experience in all areas of the manufacturing process, including many years on the quilting machine and is known as a master of all trades at the company.
“You can go up to the owners of the company, shake their hands, say hello and basically go out and have a beer (with them), as well,” Middleton said.
In December, at an anniversary celebration featuring food, gifts and speeches, there were employees, past employees, family members and many A.H. Beard business partners in attendance.
Allyn and Garry Beard, and Tony Pearson, addressed the gathering, discussing the company’s past achievements — and trials, the success and challenges of the present, and plans for the future.