Thanks to the people who shared their stories with me and showed me the light of the mattress community.
I was walking down a dark hallway in a big market building, heading for an unknown world.
No, that wasn’t a scary dream. It was my first assignment on the mattress beat almost 40 years ago. I still recall that day vividly.
I was in the International Home Furnishings Center in High Point, North Carolina, looking for a new Restonic showroom. I saw it at the end of that long, shadowy corridor: a rectangle of light beckoning me. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The Restonic team welcomed me warmly, of course, and I got my first look at a mattress showroom. I had no idea that I would still be visiting mattress showrooms in High Point almost four decades later.
Yes, I literally walked into the light of the mattress world for my first story. I quickly found the mattress industry to be full of friendly, savvy professionals — one bound together by a strong sense of community that embraced me over the years.
Now it’s time for me to move on to a new adventure: retirement.
At 70, I leave the mattress industry with a profound sense of gratitude and appreciation for what it has given me.
When I was first assigned to the mattress beat in the mid-1980s, mattresses took a back seat to the case goods and upholstery categories, which were then the most high-profile segments in the home furnishings industry. But as I soon learned, mattress makers were skilled marketers and manufacturers who were leaders in their own right. I let their light shine.
I put an intense focus on the mattress industry over the years, particularly from 2001 until 2020, when I covered the beat full time for a leading home furnishings publication.
I did that by hitting the road. The gold standard in news coverage is to report from the scene of the action. I did that across the country, visiting 37 states and 13 countries around the world. My American Airlines Million Miler balance stands at 797,620 miles. That’s more than 32 trips around the world.
In the United States, Steve Stagner welcomed me to a Texas rodeo hosted by Mattress Firm. Gerry Borreggine and Susan Mathes of Therapedic International showed me around Princeton University, where we walked in the footsteps of Alexander Hamilton, Woodrow Wilson and Albert Einstein. Kevin Toman showed me Plymouth Rock and took me to lunch on wind-swept Cape Cod. And Ron Passaglia hosted a hearty breakfast for me in snow-dusted Anchorage, Alaska, where we visited Bailey’s Furniture.
Overseas, I went tea shopping in the mountains of Taiwan with Phil Sherman and Phil McCarty. Lee Hinshaw showed me around Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and introduced me to authentic pho for lunch. Johannes Gradwohl took me to a winery in the rolling hills of southern Austria when I visited Logicdata. And Magali Castillo of The Flex Group showed me around the elegant mattress floor at Harrods in London and then treated me to a cozy pub lunch at The Bunch of Grapes nearby.
I shared all of those experiences with readers, revealing the unique settings in which mattress leaders work around the world.
I saw the big heart of the mattress industry in the pancreatic cancer events hosted by Roger Magowitz and the Ante4Autism events hosted by Doug Krinsky.
I’ve long been a fan of the Better Sleep Council and the great research it provides, and it was an honor for me to report on BSC findings as editor at large for BedTimes and Sleep Savvy.
As I wrap up my BedTimes and Sleep Savvy columns, I want to thank Ryan Trainer, president of the International Sleep Products Association, and Mary Helen Rogers, ISPA’s vice president of marketing and communications, for welcoming me to the ISPA family in 2021, and for celebrating my career at the ISPA Industry Conference earlier this year. And thanks to Mary Best and Beth English, my editorial directors at ISPA, for their strong support. It was wonderful to be part of the ISPA team.