ISPA Plays a Vital Role as Voice of Mattress Industry

Members of the board of trustees share what they find most surprising and beneficial about membership in the association — including ISPA EXPO, advocacy, statistical reports and consumer research

Members of the International Sleep Products Association’s board of trustees say the biennial ISPA EXPO is one of the ISPA services they value most. 

The trustees also value ISPA’s advocacy work, which encompasses issues ranging from mattress flammability regulations to sustainability to trade initiatives. And they say ISPA’s statistical reports and market research are invaluable in today’s dynamic mattress marketplace. 

The trustees shared their views on the value of ISPA’s services in a questionnaire that also addressed other ISPA issues.

Asked about the member service that they most value, the trustees were quick to cite ISPA EXPO, a major industry event that attracts suppliers and producers from around the world, and that also includes educational sessions. The next ISPA EXPO is set for March 8-10, 2022, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

Trustee Nick Bates, president of Spring Air International, a licensing group based in Chelsea, Massachusetts, says ISPA EXPO benefits his group.

“The EXPO is valuable for our business because it offers a cross section of exhibitors who showcase the latest mattress machinery, components and supplies, giving attendees new ideas, new resources and new opportunities,” he says. 

Adds Laurie Tokarz, president of Restonic, a bedding licensing group headquartered in Buffalo, New York: “The EXPO is of great value for sourcing new components.” 

On another issue, the trustees said ISPA is relevant to the next generation of industry leaders by providing networking opportunities that bring various industry leaders together, giving new industry members a chance to learn from senior industry leaders. And ISPA’s research on issues in the United States and around the world provides valuable insights to rising leaders, the trustees say.

Asked what industry members would be surprised to learn about ISPA, the trustees provided a variety of responses. ISPA’s consumer research was cited by some, while others cited the work ISPA does with the Mattress Recycling Council to improve the industry’s environmental footprint.

The following are the answers trustees provided to these questions and more. The July issue of BedTimes featured responses to these same questions by members of the board’s Executive Committee.

What is the value of ISPA membership and why do you participate on the board?

“The value of ISPA membership is twofold. First, ISPA is the voice for the mattress industry and provides relevant news, proactive advocacy and valuable research that gives its members a deeper understanding of the key topics that are important for our unique industry. Second, it offers the ability to network with like-minded professionals in the industry who understand the challenges and opportunities within the bedding space. This has been invaluable — not only to me personally, but also for Spring Air’s business in general. Networking within this group has provided me with terrific insight and enabled me to build lasting relationships across all sectors of the industry. Being a member of the board has allowed me to participate on a deeper level to help shape the strategies and goals for the organization’s future. Active participation is not only important for the future of ISPA but also for the future of the industry.”

— Nick Bates, president of Spring Air International, a Chelsea, Massachusetts-based licensing group

“I love our industry and its mission to help people live better lives through sleep. Being a member of the ISPA board and helping to influence the strategy and regulatory issues that impact our industry is incredibly important. I also value the relationships I’ve made along the way and the collaborative approach ISPA members take to solve our shared challenges.”

— Laura Brewick, senior vice president of Serta brand marketing at Serta Simmons Bedding LLC, an Atlanta-based bedding major

“ISPA membership provides Jones an avenue to participate in development of relevant industry standards, a portal for exhibiting product innovation and access to industry networking. Jones’ participation at the board level illustrates a corporate commitment to maintaining Jones’ industry leadership role and connects Jones with customers and supplier peers at the executive management/ownership level.”

— CP Davis, chief executive officer of Jones Family of Companies, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based industry supplier

“Being a member of ISPA is critical to the health and well-being of both our company and our industry. Our membership supports the important advocacy work ISPA performs on our behalf to proactively shape the federal and state legislation that affects our businesses, as well as providing critical consumer data and information on key topics that help enhance our products. Ensuring that our interests are well-represented and that we have a thorough understanding of consumer trends and needs is essential to our success. 

“Regarding my participation on the board, as a super-regional manufacturer, I view this responsibility as an opportunity to represent the voice of the independent manufacturer. Regional manufacturers play a vital role in the success of the bedding industry as a whole, and in particular, the products we make available to our regional retail partners. Participation on the board is an excellent forum for making sure that our voices are heard and that our local interests are represented.”

— Rion Morgenstern, president and CEO of Pleasant Mattress, a bedding producer with headquarters in Fresno, California

“ISPA is a leader in the sleep products industry with invaluable resources and industry-leading events that provide my business with insights and connections critical for Talalay Global’s growth.” 

— Marc Navarre, CEO of Talalay Global,
a Shelton, Connecticut-based
latex supplier and finished products
manufacturer

“I participate on the board to network with other people I respect and to support the industry as a whole. I enjoy membership for the legal activities ISPA supports and for the knowledge I gain. I also benefit from the ISPA EXPO, the BedTimes Supplies Guide and networking opportunities.”

— Shaun Pennington, president of Diamond Mattress, a bedding manufacturer headquartered in Compton, California

“Covestro has been a member of ISPA for decades and for good reason. ISPA helps us keep a finger on the pulse of the industry. From consumer insights to detailed industry data to a line of sight to new trends, Covestro is better connected to our peers and can better serve our customers with the help of the tools and services that ISPA provides. Participating on the board allows us to help identify and prioritize the topics that are the most beneficial to the mattress industry’s collective goals.”

— Richard Skorpenske, head of sustainability and
 government affairs North America for Covestro LLC,
 a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based foam supplier

“ISPA provides us with industry statistics that help us gauge our level of success and create goals for improvement. The statistics provided are unique to our industry and give a historical perspective, as well as forecasts. The EXPO is of great value for sourcing new components. Being on the board helps give Restonic a voice in the scope of services provided.”

— Laurie Tokarz, president of Restonic Mattress Corp., a bedding licensing group headquartered in Buffalo, New York

“ISPA membership is valuable in that it allows us to take part in something bigger than ourselves as a company. Participation on the board is about perspective. This is helpful both in sharing our different point of view as a factory-direct to the group and also in the group providing its insights to enable me to understand and learn from others.”

— Gregory Trzcinski, president of The Original
Mattress Factory, a bedding manufacturer and retailer
based in Cleveland

“Insights on industry trends and legal and political matters I find very valuable, as I’m located far off in the desert away from the cluster of East Coast mattress companies. Being on the ISPA board keeps me up to date. I especially appreciate getting to know the other board members during physical on-site board meetings (which hopefully will resume soon) and finding opportunities to work with each other.” 

— Lawrence Wollschlager, president and chief
operating officer of MFI International Manufacturing LLC,
a contract textiles manufacturer with headquarters in
El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

What is the ISPA member service that you value most?

“There are several services of value, but the one that we find the most valuable is the monitoring, communication and responses to any new and proposed regulations that will impact the industry. With each state often going its own way, this service is invaluable in making sure something isn’t missed and that a response can be provided in a timely manner.”

Trzcinski, The Original mattress factory

“The lobbying on behalf of our industry, anywhere from flammability and recycling processes to antidumping monitoring. ISPA stays informed on all legal issues facing our industry — federally, state by state and internationally — and works to inform members on how these issues may impact their business.”

— Tokarz, Restonic

“I look forward to attending ISPA’s Industry Conference and EXPO. The seminars are educational and really focus on key issues that impact the bedding industry while offering another great opportunity for networking. The EXPO is valuable for our business because it offers a cross section of exhibitors who showcase the latest mattress machinery, components and supplies, giving attendees new ideas, new resources and new opportunities. Having the ability to talk to those vendors about their products and gain a thorough understanding of how they could potentially enhance operations for Spring Air is important for us to develop as we continue to expand our business to support our retailers.”

— Bates, Spring Air 

“ISPA EXPO.”

— Wollschlager, MFI International

“Industry events (ISPA EXPO and Industry Conference) and market updates/forecasts are the highest value services. Additional industry research and support is also helpful.”

— Davis, Jones Family of Companies

“ISPA EXPO and the cost surveys.”

— Pennington, Diamond Mattress

“I think the most valuable service ISPA provides is its lobbying efforts, which it conducts at both the federal and state levels. It is important that our organization provides input to legislators and the executive branches throughout the country so that we can help shape the laws and regulations that govern our industry. The industry statistics are also an invaluable resource for us, enabling us to benchmark and analyze costs and develop forecasts for the future.” 

— Morgenstern, Pleasant Mattress

“ISPA’s statistical data and forecasts are most valuable as the information provides important sleep product insights that are helpful in understanding the sleep industry.”

— Navarre, Talalay Global

“It is hard to say that there is one member service that outshines another, but when taken as a whole, all the member benefits add up to more than the sum of their parts. The ISPA Member Alerts provide real-time updates on key issues and industry-relevant trends. Market research reports give actionable insights into data, and the ISPA EXPO is a unique showcase to see new technologies and network with other industry professionals.”

— Skorpenske, Covestro

“This one is tough to answer since I love the data and statistics available through ISPA reporting, but I know the value that comes out of ISPA’s involvement, spearheaded by (ISPA President) Ryan Trainer, in regulatory issues that impact our manufacturing and costs. Both are valuable to me as a brand and product intent on providing the best experience for consumers and ensuring growth for our industry.”  

— Brewick, SSB

How is ISPA relevant to the next generation of industry leaders?

“There are many facets of ISPA that are relevant to the next generation of leaders. First, the research conducted by the Better Sleep Council is always timely and provides important data for both current and future leaders in the industry. The ISPA EXPO is also an effective forum for connecting the next generation of executives with the best global suppliers of materials and equipment. Finally, the ISPA board is committed to including the next generation of leaders. By doing so, the involvement of these young executives is deepened, ensuring that their input is included in the issues facing the industry. Simply put, ISPA is built to be relevant not only now, but for the future.”

— Morgenstern, Pleasant Mattress 

“ISPA tracks business trends domestically and internationally, which aids our industry leaders in decision making — and will guide the next generation with insights and direction. Additionally, the EXPO also offers educational sessions that can help the next generation continuously learn, adapt and grow.”

— Tokarz, Restonic

“ISPA provides a community of like-minded professionals to focus on the goals of the industry, share best practices and collectively move the industry forward. ISPA’s advocacy and sustainability efforts help ensure the viability of the industry long term, and the networking and information-sharing opportunities provide immediate benefits in the short term. The services and resources provide a pool of information that can help future industry leaders understand the intricacies of an ever-evolving market.”

— Skorpenske, Covestro

“From a networking standpoint it is critical, especially with so many young boxed bed companies that are not part of the known old-timer crowd. The young companies need to understand that there are great synergies by knowing your competitors firsthand.”

— Wollschlager, MFI International Mfg. 

“Networking, education and a contribution to industry standards and regulations are all important. Jones would like to see how ISPA can support its recruitment efforts to bring ‘new’ talent/leaders into the industry.”

— Davis, Jones Family of Companies

“ISPA has been shepherding and defending our industry for over 100 years and the next generation of leaders will be able to carry on that effort. I think there will be more focus on sustainability, as well as consumer education, that will be great opportunities for our future leaders.”

— Brewick, SSB

“ISPA provides numerous resources with a focus on the bedding industry. The width and breadth of information is significant and presents opportunities to gain the perspectives of others who are likely facing the same challenges. ISPA also provides the ability for the industry to engage in issues with a stronger position than any one company alone.”

— Trzcinski, The Original Mattress Factory 

“By utilizing ISPA, the next generation of leaders will gain important knowledge, connections and support to address the following industry challenges: rapidly evolving technologies and skills needed, pressure for greater focus on sustainability and purpose, gender diversity, reputation challenges and unpredictable operating environments, among others.” 

— Navarre, Talalay Global

“If you’re in the sleep products industry and want to be ‘in the know,’ ISPA is the place to be. It’s an investment not only in your business but also in your career. It allows next-generation leaders to engage with other industry professionals and learn from their experiences. It’s a valuable networking opportunity and offers the ability to gain insight from industry thought leaders, which can help them grow as individuals, as well as future leaders.”

— Bates, Spring Air 

“Bringing us together for networking.”

— Pennington, Diamond Mattress

“In my conversations with people outside our industry, or new to it, they do not realize that ISPA conducts its own consumer research. Once I explain the work of the Better Sleep Council, it really rounds out their perception of ISPA.”

— Brewick, SSB 

“All of the work being done behind the scenes to better understand consumers and sleep through research.”

— Trzcinski, The Original Mattress Factory

“ISPA is dedicated to improving the environmental footprint of the mattress industry. The work that is being done through the Mattress Recycling Council has created a template to successfully collect and repurpose the materials from used mattresses, which hopefully can be expanded more broadly in the future. Covestro is also actively working with MRC to look at new ways to close the loop on end-of-life mattress components, which aligns with our vision to advance a circular economy and, ultimately, become fully circular.”

Skorpenske, Covestro

“The financial importance of the Mattress Recycling Council. An extremely talented and highly professional staff. ISPA’s publications are more than just ‘industry’ magazines.”

— Davis, Jones Family of Companies

“ISPA offers business discounts to their members — such as ISPA’s Freight Transportation Program.”

— Tokarz, Restonic

“Its involvement in mattress recycling legislation and foreign trade issues. I feel like there should be more publicity around this, so new and prospective members know that ISPA is looking out for the industry’s best interests.”

— Wollschlager, MFI International

“How hard the organization works behind the scenes. Between the ISPA EXPO, the organization’s research, its efforts to represent the industry in the halls of government and its many educational programs, ISPA demonstrates a strong commitment to the success of its members and to the continued growth of the bedding industry. The consistent high-quality output from all of its activities is a testament to the work the organization performs on behalf of its members.”

— Morgenstern, Pleasant Mattress

“The vast amount of research and resources a member can utilize is instrumental in driving business.” 

— Navarre, Talalay Global

“I think people would be surprised to learn how many of their peers have been genuinely involved with ISPA and how many resources are available to our industry. When I became more involved, it became clear to me the value that the organization could provide for me personally, as well as for our business.”

— Bates, Spring Air 

“Talalay Global is the only manufacturer of 100% natural Talalay latex in the United States. With the increase in consumers demanding an ethical and natural product, Talalay Global is committed to educating the consumer on the benefits of the Talalay process to drive brand awareness as the best sleep material.” 

— Navarre, Talalay Global

“Keeping our customers’ needs front and center is always our main priority. To that end, we want to continue to provide the services and product availability that help our customers achieve their business goals. We also want to continue to focus on the R&D projects that will help usher in new, leading-edge technology and materials. Lastly, we want to continue to sharpen our focus on projects that will help advance the sustainability goals of the industry, including our ongoing work with the Mattress Recycling Council.”

— Skorpenske, Covestro

“Enhance Jones’ valued supplier position with existing customers. Expand market share through new customer development. Broaden Jones’ product line mix for mattress manufacturing. Identify new raw material inputs supporting sustainability initiatives and improving engineered performance.” 

— Davis, Jones Family of Companies 

“We are experiencing a rush of business similar to others in the industry, along with the same challenges of labor and raw material price increases and shortages. Our strategy has been to continue to roll out new and innovative products at the luxury level with our McRoskey and AirFlex brands, while also focusing attention on the value consumer with an exciting new 10-bed collection under the Spring Air moniker. Together, we are offering dealers more unique and innovative choices, supported by one of the largest marketing departments of any independent manufacturer in the nation.”

— Morgenstern, Pleasant Mattress

“Expand our facility in Texas and get our supply chain functioning more smoothly.”

— Pennington, Diamond Mattress

“Bring forth outstanding new innovation that meets the consumer’s increased investment in their home and health. Provide a seamless shopping journey for our consumers through the right content at the right time and best-in-class digital content.”

— Brewick, SSB

“To continue to grow the business in a way that positively impacts the communities that we are in.”

— Trzcinski, The Original Mattress Factory 

“As this is the first year of my new role, I am spending a lot of time understanding the current services Restonic offers their licensees and determining how we can improve and expand upon these services, both domestically and internationally.”

— Tokarz, Restonic

“Expand capabilities, expand capacity and thrive!”

— Wollschlager, MFI International 

“As consumer demand for bedding products continues to grow, we are committed to supporting our retailers by adding new licensees to our Spring Air family. We know that much of our growth is attributed to our ability to leverage our licensing network, so as we continue to expand our partnerships with leading sleep retailers, we will continue to build our network of licensees.

“Secondly, given the widespread challenges our industry is still facing with raw material availability, we are focused on diversifying our supply chain in 2021. As an industry we all tend to rely on many of the same vendors, but as we learned over the past year — and as Spring Air continues to grow — we will be placing a greater emphasis on using a variety of vendors instead of having all of our eggs in one basket. Through our licensee manufacturing network, Spring Air has been able to keep up with growing demand and we will continue to focus on diversifying our supply chain to position ourselves as a trusted partner with the capacity to supply our customers no matter what challenges are thrown our way.”

— Bates, Spring Air 

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