Living Out a Legacy

Corsicana Mattress Co. moves into the future with a savvy, experienced team that values quality production.

Corsicana Mattress Co. is looking forward, not back. With an eye toward customer service, consistency and quality, this 53-year-old bedding manufacturer has come through a reorganization and is prepared to continue its legacy of quality, affordable mattresses, and maybe a little more.

First, a little history. In 1971, Harold Moran and his wife, Gail, founded Corsicana in, appropriately enough, Corsicana, Texas. It grew into one of the industry’s leading producers of promotionally priced bedding under the leadership of their son, Carroll Moran. In 2014, the Moran family sold a majority interest in their company to private equity firm Fenway Partners, which in turn sold the business to Long Point Capital in 2016. Five years later, Corsicana acquired Symbol Mattress, another value priced bedding manufacturer. In 2022, Corsicana declared bankruptcy in June, was purchased by Blue Torch Finance LLC and was out of bankruptcy by September.

Today, Corsicana operates seven factories across the country and continues its mission to provide consumers with innovative and affordable sleep products — branded and private label — that improve their quality of life. 

CEO Eric Rhea, who took the helm in 2022, has led the charge to strengthen the company. With three decades of bedding experience at industry supplier Leggett & Platt Inc., including serving as president of the bedding group, he has focused on three areas: outstanding customer service for brick-and-mortar retailers and e-commerce customers; automation of the company’s seven plants, ensuring quality and consistency in products; and investment in talented, industry-savvy people. 

Mark Jannke, senior vice president of operations and product development, is one of those industry veterans. “When Eric Rhea, our chief executive officer, joined the company, his charge was to reinvent Corsicana and return the company to its roots as one of the nation’s leading mattress suppliers,” Jannke says. “The time and investments spent to achieve those goals are now paying off.”

The right team

One of the first steps to reinvention was hiring a strong team. Rhea elevated Jannke, who joined the company after it acquired Symbol Mattress. Jannke started his bedding career with Sealy in 1983.

Then, at the end of 2022, Sally Erickson came in as the new executive vice president and chief financial officer. A former president of Serta, Erickson also worked for what is now Tempur Sealy International Inc. from 1996 to 2013. 

Roxanne Hrkman serves as the new vice president of supply chain with 20 years of industry experience. She started at L&P  and spent 10 years on the supplier side. From there, she moved to Symbol in 2013. “I oversee our customer service and purchasing teams, as well as special projects,” she says. “I’m here to make sure we have what we need to take and fulfill customer orders and to make sure we are doing that efficiently.” 

Mike Juoni, senior vice president of commercial operations, joined Corsicana at the end of 2022 after 27 years in the industry. Most recently, he worked as the vice president of sales for the independent channel at Serta Simmons Bedding LLC. But his mattress industry career began in 1997, riding shotgun in a Verlo Mattress delivery truck, reading paper maps. He stayed with Verlo until 2010 before moving on to SSB.

“Having the right people in the right roles is something that Eric has talked about frequently,” Juoni says. “If you look at
everybody from the field to the management team … it’s filled with people who have industry experience on either the wholesale, manufacturing or retail side — decades worth. … It allowed us to come in with a shorter learning curve.”

Jannke agrees: “We’re on the right path with the right team. We have a lot of people who know what it takes to be successful.” 

Efficient and effective

Since taking on his role at Corsicana, Jannke has led a major overhaul of the manufacturer’s products and seven plants, located in Bartow, Florida; Corsicana; Glendale, Arizona; Greensboro, North Carolina; Newington, Connecticut; Shelbyville, Tennessee; and Watertown, Wisconsin. 

To start, Jannke reduced the number of suppliers the company used and focused on working with American companies. “At one point during the supply chain disruption we were purchasing from seven different spring manufacturers,” he says. “We’re down to two now. That has allowed us to set standards for the raw materials we buy across the board, whether it’s foam, innersprings or fabrics. And that means we hold our suppliers accountable in terms of their product quality and on-time delivery, resulting in huge benefits for our customers.”

In addition to streamlining vendors, Corsicana has updated facilities across the country with automated machinery that makes it easier to create consistent, high-quality mattresses. Some of the new equipment includes automated conveyor systems, automated glue bridges and multiple roll-pack machines in every plant. 

“We’re all about service and communication, creating good relationships with vendors and a good product,” he says.

Hrkman agrees: “Our vendors are just as critical to us as our customers. Having those strong relationships has allowed us to reshape our product line to meet the needs of customers and stay relevant in the industry.”

Legacy and beyond

Corsicana Forward Focus Legacy. Corsicana at a glance.

With plant and vendor changes in place, the product development team, which includes Geri Frank, senior manager of product development, has been able to work more closely with those suppliers to create innovative designs, some of which were seen on the showroom floor at the January Las Vegas Market. 

Everything on the floor was either new, refreshed or examples of top-selling models, Juoni says. 

One of the most unique mattresses, created for direct-to-consumer brand Winkbeds, drew the eye with a polka-dot gusset and a quilted gray cover. Like many DTC brands, Winkbeds is pursuing retail floor space and asked Corsicana to create two new models that will only be sold at brick-and-mortar retailers, not online. Constructed with Serene foam and at least 2 inches of copper-infused Talalay latex and edge-to-edge coils, the suggested retail prices are $2,299 to $2,499 — the highest in the showroom.

“They have elevated construction, and an elevated look and feel from what they sell every day, but they’re still building us landing pages so retailers can take advantage of their marketing expertise,” Juoni says. 

The NightsBridge six-bed collection ($1,499 to $1,999) drew attention with a light blue floral geometric pattern on a dark gray background. But the real draw might be its comfort. “In 25 years in mattresses, this is the softest bed I’ve ever been around,” he says. “It’s like a marshmallow to lay on. Some people really love that plush feel.” Of course, it also comes in a firm and medium feel. 

SleepFresh, a resurrected trademarked name, graced a new seven-bed collection with a showstopping blue cover with metallic rose gold touches. The color is a nod to the copper-infused Talalay latex used in its construction, a helpful cue for retail sales associates. It is expected to retail between $1,299 and $1,999.

The rest of the showroom was dedicated to top-selling value lines, such as the Ballard, which now comes in a firm and a plush, as well as its original box top. It can be made with a new color palette, too. “It’s a big, beefy bed built with superior support and maximum comfort,” Juoni says. “We have retailers that sell this as high as $1,999 every day and a retailer could discount it as low as $999 and still be happy with the margin. It’s a great example of the kind of value we drive.

Corsicana Forward Focus Legacy. Mike Juoni, senior vice president of commercial operations, sits on NightsBridge at the January Las Vegas Market.
Mike Juoni, senior vice president of commercial operations, sits on NightsBridge at the January Las Vegas Market.

“A huge part of who we are is offering some of these value products,” he adds. “That doesn’t mean we can’t continue the evolution here, as well. But we are not abandoning anything as far as our promotional values are concerned.”

Still, Juoni reported that many who visited were impressed with Corsicana’s capabilities. “A lot of people were raising eyebrows — in a very positive way — on what we brought to the table. It’s an exciting time to be part of what we’re building.”

Customer-first mentality

Having great products doesn’t mean anything if you can’t deliver. 

“Our service level to our entire customer base remains a top priority,” Hrkman says. “We are consistently maintaining 98% and above on-time and complete deliveries, and we expect our customers to continue to hold us to this standard. It is extremely important to us to deliver on our promises. We want to make a good quality product at a value and deliver it quickly.”

Juoni says Corsicana has some of the highest on-time, in-full rates that he’s ever experienced in the industry.

Part of that success has to do with leadership, Erickson says. “It starts at the top,” she adds. “And Eric should be given credit. We are well-positioned to drive this company forward.”

Read more on Corsicana. Corsicana’s Head of Operations Moves Company Forward in 2023.

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