Bed frame competitors Rize and Glideaway join forces in new entity to boost customer service.
Things were looking bleak when Rize CEO David Jaffe made a fateful telephone call. The Covid-19 pandemic had just broken out across the nation. The stock market was plunging. Events everywhere were being canceled. The future was uncertain.
In the midst of those dark days early in 2020, Jaffe called Zev Fredman, president of Glideaway Sleep Products. In some ways, it was an unlikely call. The two companies, both with strong bed frame histories and similar product lines, were long-time — and fierce — competitors.
But Covid-19 changed everything. And so Jaffe called to check in on Fredman and to find solace in a chaotic marketplace. In the friendly, supportive conversations that followed, the two executives bonded as they shared their thoughts and concerns, their hopes and their resolve to move ahead. And in that union, a seed for the future was planted, one that flowered last year when the companies merged into one entity: Rize Home.
Now the two third-generation family-owned businesses have joined forces and product lines. The new company, which made its first appearance at the recent Las Vegas Market, is a stronger entity than either Rize or Glideaway were as separate businesses, officials say.
Jaffe and Fredman, who led their separate companies, are now on the same team. Jaffe is CEO of Rize Home, and Fredman is chief financial officer, although his contributions run much deeper than that title might suggest.
They say the new company offers several advantages for customers, including more product choices, better merchandising opportunities, better pricing, faster shipping and more consistent inventory levels. The joint venture also means a greater investment in resources to design better products and stronger retail support programs.
Rize and Glideaway were similar companies, although their customer bases were distinct, with only a small overlap of common customers. Both originally specialized in bed frames and later added other products, such as adjustable bases, mattresses and sleep accessories.
Over time, the families that ran the businesses got to know one another, and they first talked about a merger several years ago. But those earlier talks never led anywhere, and Rize and Glideaway remained “respectful” competitors, Jaffe notes. Fredman described Rize as “a very good competitor.”
That was the situation when Covid-19 first raced across the country.
“When Covid broke, we were staring at a bottomless pit,” Fredman recalls. “It seemed like an abyss. We didn’t know where the trough of the recession would be. And that was when David reached out to us.”
Jaffe fondly recalls the conversation: “We talked business. I asked him how he was doing. We liked each other and we found some solace in our conversations. We felt we were in this together, although we remained competitors.”
Covid-19 hit Rize hard. One of the company’s workers in Cleveland died, becoming the eighth person in the state to succumb to the illness.
“We wondered if we were still going to be in business,” Jaffe says. “Any way to communicate with anyone about how to stay in business was therapeutic.”
Jaffe and Fredman remained in touch as business gradually improved. “We always had a great relationship,” Fredman says. “And we found we were facing a lot of the same challenges in the business.”
Jaffe says he realized that the leadership teams at Rize and Glideaway were “very compatible.” He enjoyed his conversations with Fredman and learned from them.
“He’s a very modest guy with the unique experience of serving in many roles in a very successful organization,” Jaffe says of Fredman. “He’s not just brilliant at markets. He really knows the business. He goes out on customer visits, and he’s clearly in tune with the market.”
Fredman returns the compliments.
“David is very modest given what he has accomplished,” Fredman says. “We need a visionary to anticipate what our customers’ needs will be. And that is David.”
One example of Jaffe’s vision was his move last year to expand into sleep-related products like essential oils, sleep masks and pillowcases.
After working for Microsoft for six years and later running a marketing company, Jaffe joined Mantua Manufacturing Co., as Rize was known then, in 2009. One of his early moves was to expand into adjustable bed bases.
Fredman was an accountant with Ernst & Whinney (a predecessor to EY) before getting on board with Glideaway in 1986.
Jaffe and Fredman are joined in the Rize Home C-suite by Marc Spector, president of the new entity. He was formerly president of Rize. Bedding veteran Rick Sterzer remains executive vice president of sales.
Rize Home is a $150 million company with 3,000 retailers and more than 20,000 store fronts.
As he looks to the future, Jaffe aims to leverage a broader customer base and more products to sell.
“Our opportunity is our large, combined customer base,” he says. “Many of our customers are buying one or two product lines from us.”
“In many cases, we’ve been shipping frames to them for a long time, sending trucks to them each and every week,” Jaffe continues. “With a broader line, better merchandising and closer shipping points, there are great opportunities for our customers to add on new and innovative product lines at a reduced cost.”
The integration of the Rize and Glideaway product lines will give Rize Home “one great merchandising story,” Jaffe says. While Glideaway- and Rize-branded products will both be in the market for a period of time, the company will eventually move to the Rize Home brand for all its products.
Key categories for Rize Home include bed frames, adjustable bed bases, a mattress line that includes both foam and hybrid models, a youth mattress collection, top-of-bed accessories, pillows, other sleep accessories and furniture, a category Rize was building.
“These products are all available now but will be more integrated from a branding standpoint moving forward,” Jaffe says. “We produce these products all over the world, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and China.”
The company’s U.S. footprint includes 120,000 square feet of manufacturing space at facilities in Cleveland, Houston and St. Louis, and 500,000 square feet of warehouse space in those three cities, as well as at facilities in California, Florida and Washington.
Having been through one rebranding already — moving Mantua Manufacturing Co. to Rize — Jaffe says the new rebranding is evolutionary.
“The opportunity for Rize Home is to expand our business from two traditional bed frame manufacturers to a brand that delivers great quality products for the entire home at a good price,” he says.
That’s an opportunity that presented itself when two former competitors began working together to create something new and better for their customers.