BedTimes Magazine https://bedtimesmagazine.com Bedding industry news and features Sat, 15 Feb 2020 01:01:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://bedtimesmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/cropped-BedTimes-Favicon-BT-copy-1-32x32.jpg BedTimes Magazine https://bedtimesmagazine.com 32 32 Heritage Brand Is Young at Heart https://bedtimesmagazine.com/2020/02/heritage-brand-is-young-at-heart/ Tue, 11 Feb 2020 18:32:08 +0000 https://bedtimesmagazine.com/?p=109160 Serta Simmons Bedding LLC has relaunched the Simmons brand...

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Serta Simmons Bedding LLC has reinvented the Simmons brand as a fun, affordable “first mattress” for Generation Z. 

Serta Simmons Bedding LLC has relaunched the Simmons brand “as a playful, value-priced first mattress” in two models designed specifically for Generation Z and millennials, the Atlanta-based manufacturer said. 

The new Simmons boxed bed debuted online in December at Walmart and Wayfair, and at in-store big-box retailer Costco in January. Retail pricing is $299 for a memory foam queen and $349 for a hybrid queen. SSB plans to expand the line and its distribution this year. 

The brand, with its lighthearted winking eye logo, is supported by a “Just for Fun-ZZZs” marketing campaign that includes a robust collection of banner ads and array of social content, such as entertaining videos, funny phrases and games to play in bed. 

“The market has been disrupted based on consumer shopping preferences for simpler choice and desired convenience,” said Melanie Huet, SSB executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “With our expertise in product design and technology we are now disrupting those disrupters and re-establishing our brands as the undisputed leaders in delivering a great night’s sleep for every consumer, at every price point and through every retail channel. We are proud to be the first bedding company to actively target and market to Gen Z with products made just for them.

“I’m particularly pleased with the social experience we’ve created for the new Simmons brand. We’re showcasing how delightfully different we are when compared to the greater mattress market and recognizing how our target consumer wants to live more than they sleep. Followers will be excited to find bed hacks, dance moves, jumping on the bed techniques and recipes for eating in bed — all which helps them break the sleep rules of the past.” 

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Gold Bond Adds Hybrid Beds, Makes Special Delivery https://bedtimesmagazine.com/2020/02/gold-bond-adds-hybrid-beds-makes-special-delivery/ Tue, 11 Feb 2020 18:23:50 +0000 https://bedtimesmagazine.com/?p=109150 Mattress manufacturer Gold Bond, based in Hartford, Connecticut, says...

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Gold Bond and retailer Northeastern Rustic Furniture used a horse and wooden cart to deliver mattresses to a customer in Maine’s Amish community. 

Mattress manufacturer Gold Bond, based in Hartford, Connecticut, says it recently demonstrated its commitment to its retailers in two special ways: by expanding its moderately priced luxury product offerings and by delivering mattresses to a customer in Maine’s Amish community using a horse and wooden cart. 

Gold Bond said it introduced the Smart Hybrid series in response to its retailers’ requests for a competitively priced, luxurious hybrid mattress collection that features Gold Bond’s signature high-quality materials. The two-model line is priced to retail from $2,499 to $2,999 in queen size. The three models in Gold Bond’s Smart Luxury series, introduced last year, retail from $1,999 to $2,499. 

The Smart Hybrid series’ two SKUs — the 3000 and 4000 — each feature Leggett & Platt Inc.’s Bolsa unit with precompressed Quantum Edge coils. Both sides have 1,057 encased coils and 1,386 NanoCoils. 

The 3000 model features gel-infused memory foam with a 13-inch profile, and the 4000 model features Vytex latex with a 15-inch profile. Wrapped in a soft white organic quilted cover, each double-sided mattress features a contrasting taped-edge with a charcoal and black border.

Gold Bond’s new Smart Hybrid beds were created in response to retailer requests for a moderately priced luxury offering. 

“Our brand has always done well by staying in close touch with our retail partners, and it’s important that we deliver products tailored to their needs,” said Bob Naboicheck, president of Gold Bond. “Consumers are looking to invest in their sleep, and our Smart Hybrid series provides them with the best option on the market with its affordable pricing and quality components. We’re committed to giving our retailers a luxurious sleep product that offers the same Gold Bond quality at an unbeatable price.”

Naboicheck said the company also showed its commitment to its customers when it delivered bed and futon mattresses using a horse and cart in Amish country in Maine. Gold Bond worked in conjunction with its retail partner Northeastern Rustic Furniture in Smyrna Mills, Maine, and its last-mile delivery team to get the mattresses to the customer.

“In this small Maine community, making the delivery in a manner that was in cultural sync with
the customer was important to us, and we were able to make that happen by coordinating with Northeastern Rustic Furniture and the last-mile delivery team,” Naboicheck said. “One of the competitive advantages we offer our partners is that we can problem-solve quickly and efficiently because our management team is involved in every aspect of
the operation.”

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Precision Textiles’ Patented EcoFlex Targets Boxed Beds https://bedtimesmagazine.com/2020/02/precision-textiles-patented-ecoflex-targets-boxed-beds/ Tue, 11 Feb 2020 17:36:31 +0000 https://bedtimesmagazine.com/?p=109139 Precision Textiles, a producer of textile components and FR...

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EcoFlex is a patented FR barrier from Precision Textiles that offers the stretch and recovery needed for roll-packed mattresses.

Precision Textiles, a producer of textile components and FR solutions for a variety of markets, has introduced a new FR barrier for mattresses. Patented EcoFlex is a nonwoven textile composed entirely of inherent FR rayon that uses a proprietary yarn formula with four-way stretch and recovery, thus allowing it to withstand the rigors of roll packing, the Totowa, New Jersey-based company said.

“EcoFlex is a glass-free and chemical-free barrier textile that is most effective from an FR performance and a manufacturing standpoint when laminated directly to the underside of the mattress ticking,” said Keith Martin, Precision Textiles vice president. “It removes the cumbersome task of applying FR socks, is cost effective and creates a high-performing FR barrier. Burn tests show that EcoFlex provides greater protection to foam and hybrid mattresses than some knit FR socks offer.”

“With its unparalleled recovery, EcoFlex is the perfect solution for today’s roll-packed mattresses,” Martin added.

The company will feature EcoFlex, which is Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified, at its booth during the mattress industry trade fair ISPA EXPO 2020 in New Orleans, March 18-20. 

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iComfort by Serta Put to Test by SleepScore Labs https://bedtimesmagazine.com/2020/02/icomfort-by-serta-put-to-test-by-sleepscore-labs/ Tue, 11 Feb 2020 17:12:21 +0000 https://bedtimesmagazine.com/?p=109129 Atlanta-based Serta Simmons Bedding LLC partnered with sleep technology...

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Users of the SleepScore smartphone app put one of the latest iComfort by Serta models to the ultimate sleep test.

Atlanta-based Serta Simmons Bedding LLC partnered with sleep technology company SleepScore Labs, headquartered in Carlsbad, California, on a new sleep study that measured sleeper satisfaction with one of the latest iComfort by Serta models. Self-reported results from an unspecified number of participants who slept on the CF4000 mattress showed that 80% found the bed improved their overall sleep. Respondents also said they fell asleep faster, felt cooler in bed and achieved better sleep throughout the night without waking up, compared with their previous mattress, which also was a foam bed. 

Consumers can download the free SleepScore Labs app or upgrade to the paid version and begin tracking their sleep by placing their phones on their bed stand each night. The noncontact app uses sound waves to analyze and deliver a trove of sleep data, as well as a daily SleepScore.  

“A study like this opens a lot of doors for further research and development of not only mattresses, but other bedding products in the market,” said Colin Lawlor, SleepScore chief executive officer. “We’re thrilled to partner with Serta Simmons Bedding on future studies to bring this type of research into their future product development.” 

JD Velilla, SSB head of sleep experience, said: “As the leading bedding company, we’ve always been focused on providing better sleep, and we want to understand how to take that further with our products to unlock the true potential behind a great night of rest. It’s about understanding and exploring new ways to really impact someone’s sleep health and recovery.” 

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Soft-Tex Acquires Super-Cool Reactex Technology https://bedtimesmagazine.com/2020/02/soft-tex-acquires-super-cool-reactex-technology/ Tue, 11 Feb 2020 15:54:00 +0000 https://bedtimesmagazine.com/?p=109107 Sleep products supplier Soft-Tex International, headquartered in Waterford, New...

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Soft-Tex epic chill toppers
Marketgoers tested Soft-Tex’s new and very cool Epic Chill toppers and pillows with Reactex technology at the Summer Las Vegas Market.

Sleep products supplier Soft-Tex International, headquartered in Waterford, New York, has merged with Reactex Technology Group LLC and acquired all of its intellectual property, patents and pending patents. Reactex was a joint venture formed in February 2019 by Soft-Tex and Radiant Thermodynamics Inc. in Midhurst, Ontario.

The joint venture resulted in Soft-Tex’s launch of the Epic Chill Pad and Epic Chill Pillow with thermodynamic Reactex technology at the Summer Las Vegas Market in July. The products have a unique, patent-pending, pressure-activated cooling technology. The company said the products provide overnight (nonelectric) cooling or heating and charge when not in use. The thermodynamics behind Reactex are somewhat similar to phase-change material, the company said. 

Folding the two companies together will facilitate product development and innovation, as well as add new production and engineering jobs, Soft-Tex said. With the merger, Soft-Tex takes full control of dedicated Reactex research and development and production facilities currently in Waterford at Soft-Tex headquarters.

Mark Smiderle, the inventor of Reactex, was named to the Soft-Tex board of directors and leads Soft-Tex’s innovation efforts. Also, Scott Thayer continues to lead Reactex business development efforts as divisional vice president.

“The acquisition of Reactex is a true differentiator for Soft-Tex and its customers,” said Jeff Chilton, Soft-Tex chief executive officer. “We are not just a leading supplier of bedding and memory foam products anymore; we’re now an innovation company. Our focus has been developing transformative comfort-based technologies. Now we have a technology, resources and know-how to bring it to our current customer base and commercialize many retail sectors.”

Thayer said: “We are excited to be launching several collections of bedding products powered by Reactex technology to more than 1,250 major retail stores this spring and summer. Concurrently, we are looking ahead to our aggressive expansion of Reactex to partners in three key sectors — furniture and mattress retail, health care and medical device, and international markets.”

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Chinese Brand Mlily Celebrates U.S. Operation https://bedtimesmagazine.com/2020/02/chinese-brand-mlily-celebrates-u-s-operation/ Tue, 11 Feb 2020 15:26:20 +0000 https://bedtimesmagazine.com/?p=109105 Mlily, a mattress and pillow manufacturer that is part...

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(From left) Ty Davenport, director of Fairfield County (South Carolina) Economic Development; Chad Reinsel, Mlily USA (rear); Roger Gaddy, mayor of Winnsboro, South Carolina; Annie McDaniel, South Carolina state representative; Mike Fanning, South Carolina state senator; James Ni, Healthcare Co. Ltd.; Bobby Hitt, South Carolina secretary of commerce; Cornelius Robinson, chair of the Fairfield County Council; and Mlily USA’s Stephen Chen and Suns Jian. 

Mlily, a mattress and pillow manufacturer that is part of Healthcare Co. Ltd., based in Rugao, China, held a January event celebrating its Mlily USA operation in Winnsboro, South Carolina. The company opened the U.S. headquarters and a 650,000-square-foot plant in mid-2019. 

When the U.S. facility first opened, it employed 25; currently, it employs 73 and will ramp up to 250 employees by year-end, the company said. Plans are to have the plant produce all beds sold in the U.S. market. Currently, an Mlily plant in Thailand manufactures a portion of the Mlily products sold in the United States.  

Two hundred state, county and local officials joined Mlily customers and suppliers at the grand opening. The Chinese company has invested nearly $50 million in the factory, which will produce mattresses, as well as components, such as foams and springs.

“This is an exciting time for our company as we continue to grow in the United States,” said James Ni, Healthcare chair and chief executive officer. “Our U.S. customers will (soon) be able to get their products from Winnsboro, made by American workers. The investment in this factory allows us to develop and supply Mlily products that appeal to U.S. consumers and provides us with the opportunity to expand our product reach in this country. I’m thankful to our leadership team and employees for the work in getting this plant ready and operational, as well as to the local and state government officials who have welcomed us into the community. We look forward to playing an important role in the community.”

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Resident Gains $12.5 Million in Funding https://bedtimesmagazine.com/2020/02/resident-gains-12-5-million-in-funding/ Thu, 06 Feb 2020 18:35:50 +0000 https://bedtimesmagazine.com/?p=109084 San Francisco-based Resident, owner of four e-commerce mattress brands...

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San Francisco-based Resident, owner of four e-commerce
mattress brands — Awara, DreamCloud, Level and Nectar, as well as e-commerce home furnishing brands 1771 Living, Bundle and Wovenly — has received $12.5 million in financing from Liquidity Capital. 

Liquidity, which is headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, offers “unlimited, unsecured, nonrecourse, no-dilution growth capital funding to growth stage startups,” according to a news release. It calls its model “trajectory-based financing,” which enables companies to “double down on their hyper-growth without giving up equity.” Liquidity works with promising startups, taking on all the financial risk. Its funding decisions are guided by machine-learning algorithms that forecast future business trends, the company said.

“We are thrilled to be investing in Resident,” said Ron Daniel, Liquidity co-founder and chief executive officer. “Seeing as Resident is the fastest-growing e-commerce retailer in North America, this investment strengthens our investment portfolio greatly.”

Ran Reske, Resident co-founder, said: “We have been extremely impressed with the Liquidity Capital team from our very first meeting with them. Ron Daniel clearly understands all the ups and downs an entrepreneur goes through, as he has already experienced this journey himself. The fact that they have been entrepreneurs was very important to us in choosing a capital partner. In addition, the new approach of nondilutive capital for a fast-growing business like ours is the perfect solution and made this transaction a no-brainer for us. We look forward to working with Liquidity Capital as we continue to scale our business.”

In addition to San Francisco, Resident has offices in London, New York and Tel Aviv. The company first launched in 2017 as the online mattress brand Nectar.

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Culp Sales Slip in 2nd Quarter https://bedtimesmagazine.com/2020/02/culp-sales-slip-in-2nd-quarter/ Thu, 06 Feb 2020 18:15:57 +0000 https://bedtimesmagazine.com/?p=108963 Textile major Culp Inc., with headquarters in High Point,...

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Textile major Culp Inc., with headquarters in High Point, North Carolina, reported financial and operating results for the second quarter of fiscal 2020, which ended Nov. 3, 2019. Total net sales declined 5.7%, compared with the prior-year quarter, to $72.6 million. Mattress fabrics sales ($35.5 million) were down 4.7%, upholstery fabrics sales ($33.9 million) declined 3.2% and home accessories sales ($3.3 million) dropped 31.5%.

Pretax income was $4.1 million, compared with $4.3 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2019. The second quarter pretax income included a net benefit of approximately $543,000 in restructuring and related charges and credits and other nonrecurring items, due mostly to the closure of the company’s production facility in Anderson, South Carolina. Excluding this net credit, pretax income for the second quarter of fiscal 2019 was $3.7 million.

Net income in second-quarter fiscal 2020 was $2.3 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, compared with net income of $2.9 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, in the prior-year period. 

The company’s financial position reflected total cash and investments of $47.2 million and outstanding borrowings totaling $925,000, for a net cash position of $46.3 million. 

Cash flow from operations and free cash flow for the first six months of fiscal 2020 were $8.2 million and $5.6 million, respectively, compared with cash flow from operations and free cash flow of $6.6 million and $3.6 million, respectively, for the prior-year period. 

“We are pleased with our performance for the second quarter of fiscal 2020,” said Frank Saxon, Culp chair. “While we had a modest drop in overall sales compared with the prior-year period, we had an improved operating performance in both our mattress fabrics and upholstery fabrics businesses. … We also continued to refine our strategies for Culp Home Accessories, our finished products business, and we believe we are making progress in positioning this business for sequential improvement. 

“With the support of our global platform, we are confident we can sustain our strong competitive advantage and respond to the changing demand trends of our diverse customer base. Importantly, we have the financial strength to pursue our growth plans and to continue returning funds to our shareholders.”

Commenting on ticking sales, Iv Culp, president and chief executive officer, said, “Our results … reflect changing market dynamics as the mattress industry attempts to recover from the turmoil surrounding the influx of Chinese imports and the subsequent anti-dumping measures. 

“While demand is softer in our legacy mattress fabrics business, we experienced very favorable demand trends for mattress covers. As a result, CLASS, our sewn mattress cover business, delivered an exceptionally strong performance for the second quarter, and we are optimistic about additional opportunities with existing and new customers. Our robust supply platform for covers includes our production locations in the U.S., Haiti and Asia. … We also intend to expand the footprint of operations in Haiti and Asia during the second half of fiscal 2020, giving us further flexibility and capacity for serving the needs of our customers in the boxed bedding space.”

The company announced a 5% increase in its quarterly cash dividend to 10.5 cents per share, or 42 cents per share on an annualized basis, marking the seventh straight year of increasing the annual dividend. 

The company expects overall sales for the third quarter of fiscal 2020 to be comparable to the same period in 2019 and forecasts that its overall performance in the second half of fiscal 2020 will be better than the results achieved during the second half of fiscal 2019.

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Estee Bedding Doesn’t Slow Down https://bedtimesmagazine.com/2020/02/estee-bedding-doesnt-slow-down/ Wed, 05 Feb 2020 21:56:58 +0000 https://bedtimesmagazine.com/?p=109029 A specialty in truck mattresses and a commitment to...

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Estee Bedding Co. is a family business, with several members of the Enright family involved, including (from left) Davoren, Sean, Tim and Patty Enright. Tim Enright owns the company and serves as chief executive officer. His son Davoren handles purchasing, quality and receivables, while son Sean serves as plant manager. Tim Enright’s wife, Patty, manages billing and acts as company “ambassador” to customers.
Estee Bedding Co. is a family business, with several members of the Enright family involved, including (from left) Davoren, Sean, Tim and Patty Enright. Tim Enright owns the company and serves as chief executive officer. His son Davoren handles purchasing, quality and receivables, while son Sean serves as plant manager. Tim Enright’s wife, Patty, manages billing and acts as company “ambassador” to customers.

A specialty in truck mattresses and a commitment to continual improvement keep the company on a roll

In this era when competition in the mattress marketplace is increasing on all sides, and bedding manufacturers and retailers alike are being forced to adopt new ways of doing business, Estee Bedding Co.’s business plan can be summarized in three words: Keep on truckin’. This mantra has served Estee well for decades, and it is expected to continue driving the company’s growth well into the 2020s.

Based in Chicago, Estee specializes in producing high-quality mattresses and accessories for the heavy-duty truck market. The company provides bedding to leading truck manufacturers and fleets, as well as smaller independents. In addition, Estee has a growing presence in the hospitality market, supplying sofa sleepers and rollaway mattresses to hotels, and also in the education market, where it provides dorm mattresses.

The company hasn’t always focused on contract production. Founded in a garage in 1924 by Sam Trossman, Estee Bedding soon grew to fill a factory and, at one time, operated 13 retail stores. The company flourished during World War II and into the 1950s, propelled by sales of all-cotton, ticking-stripe mattresses to the U.S. military. During the 1960s, Estee also became a major supplier to large Midwestern department stores, such as Marshall Field’s and Gold-blatt’s, as well as other furniture retailers in the region, including Homer’s Furniture Co.

When Estee’s retail sales started to fade in 1970, the company began to concentrate on its contract business. By the time Tim Enright bought the company from Trossman’s sons in 1989, the company’s sales were limited to two main accounts — a line of mattresses produced for a truck manufacturer and a line of rollaway beds sold to Harris-Hub, a metal bed manufacturer that later became part of Dresher Inc.

This promotional image from Estee encourages truckers to “rest easy” on the company’s mattresses.
This promotional image from Estee encourages truckers to “rest easy” on the company’s mattresses.

“I saw Estee as a great challenge,” says Enright, who purchased the company with his father and a small group of investors before buying them out in 2004. Enright bought Estee with no production experience — his background was in retail management — but he immediately saw an opportunity to improve the company’s productivity and deepen its relationships within the contract segment.

“There was room for us to grow by serving the truck market with an expanded line of products that met a wider range of needs,” Enright says. Today, Estee is the largest manufacturer of truck mattresses in North America, having sold more than 2 million mattresses for use in trucks over its history.

“We know what a driver needs in a quality mattress — comfort, stability, support, durability and a price that won’t break the bank,” Enright says, explaining the company’s formula for success. 

AT A GLANCE

Company

Estee Bedding Co.

Headquarters

Chicago, where it operates a 150,000-square-foot production facility

Specialty

Manufactures mattresses and sleep accessories for the heavy-duty truck market, as well as sofa sleepers and rollaway beds for the hospitality market, and dorm beds for the education market

History

Founded as a producer and retailer of mattresses for the consumer market by Sam Trossman in 1924. Since 1970, the company has focused on contract bedding. It was purchased by Tim Enright and a group of investors in 1989. Enright bought out his partners in 2004 and now owns the entire company.

Ownership

Tim Enright

Learn more

EsteeBedding.com

Repositioning for growth

Estee’s initial goal after taking control of the company was to “find new business.” Drawing on his sales experience, he secured two more truck manufacturers as customers. Then, as more orders started coming in, he turned his attention to improving production.

“Our biggest challenge was that we were operating on the second floor of an old factory building,” he says. “We were working on wood floors with antiquated equipment and using a piecework system that was a huge pain.”

Audelia Fernandez, left, and Ana Sanchez assemble a foam-encased pocket spring mattress.
Audelia Fernandez, left, and Ana Sanchez assemble a foam-encased pocket spring mattress.

Each week, thousands of piecework tickets had to be handled and counted. “And our employees were constantly fighting over who was going to do the work,” he says. The system worked like this: A worker would pull paperwork from a green bucket to determine the amount of foam, fabric and springs to gather from the warehouse. That order then moved to another bucket, where a supervisor would check the number of mattresses to be made. When the shipping clerk’s bucket received the paperwork, it was time to load the finished mattresses onto a truck. Finally, when the accounting department’s bucket was filled, the customer was billed.

“There was a lot of lost time and labor with our old system,” Enright says. “It was terribly inefficient.”

Soon after buying the company, Enright discontinued the piecework approach. But the reliance on paperwork continued until 1996, when the company moved into a more modern 150,000-square-foot building on the southwest side of Chicago and adopted a computer-based system.

“It’s a much better space that’s close to the highways with easy access for our trucks and our employees,” Enright says of the company’s current production site.

Moving fast and thinking lean

When the company moved, it did so quickly over a Thanksgiving weekend and Enright made sure the factory was “up and running and building beds by Monday morning.” With the move, Enright converted all of the company’s processes to lean manufacturing. The approach involved streamlining the setup of the factory floor and adopting new ways of managing workflow. These steps, along with a series of other changes, enabled Estee to obtain ISO 9000 certification. Having the certification was a prerequisite to doing more business with truck manufacturers, Enright says.

Finished mattresses are ready to go to the automatic bagger, then rolled and compressed.
Finished mattresses are ready to go to the automatic bagger, then rolled and compressed.

Since then, Estee has continued refining its production and operational systems. This deep commitment to continuous improvement has enabled the company to meet the requirements of an even tougher technical standard, ISO/TS 16949. Developed specifically for the automotive industry supply chain, ISO/TS 16949 emphasizes defect prevention and the reduction of variation and waste. The system incorporates Six Sigma principles aimed at reducing costs, improving quality and shortening delivery cycles.

“Meeting the demanding requirements of this elite certification gives our trucking customers assurance that we are a highly reliable supplier of quality truck bedding,” Enright says. “As far as we know, we are the only bedding manufacturer in North America that has achieved this certification.”

Maria Guerrero sews a cover for one of Estee’s truck beds.
Maria Guerrero sews a cover for one of Estee’s truck beds.

Because such certification must be renewed annually, Enright says he and his team are continually working on new ways to improve how things are done at the company. Take that old bucket-based approach to tracking workflow, for example. Today, Estee uses a sophisticated radio frequency identification code system to manage the process, in which every workstation has a scanner and each component that goes into a bed carries a barcode and/or RFID tag. The system enables the company to record and monitor the movement of components at every stage of production, from the moment raw materials are received through to the shipment and delivery of finished beds.

“We have total transparency in our operations from start to finish,” Enright says. “If there’s a warranty issue and a cover isn’t sewn properly, we can determine exactly who was responsible and what needs to be fixed.”

The system also helps Estee with other issues, including time management, cost control and material usage. Armed with that data, the company is able to quickly identify problems and continually adjust its resources and systems. 

A family-oriented culture

In 1990, operating in its former plant, Estee produced about 30,000 mattresses a year. Today, in its current facility using lean manufacturing principles, it produces 100,000 beds a year. During the same period, the company’s workforce has grown from 20 employees to about 35.

“I’m very proud of my team,” Enright says. “They are the backbone of the company — and that’s not just a cliché. We treat our employees like family, and our staff includes several cases where a husband and wife or father and daughter work here together. We also have someone who has worked with us since 1971 and, at age 83, is still an important part of our pin-up operation.”

Enright’s own family also plays a big role in the company’s success. His son Sean, “who can fix almost any machine,” serves as plant manager, responsible for everything that happens on the factory floor. Enright’s other son, Davoren, handles purchasing, quality and receivables. And his wife, Patty, who works part time, takes care of billing “and is a great ambassador to our customers,” Enright says. 

Estee has an area on the property of its Chicago factory that its workers use to grow vegetables.
Estee has an area on the property of its Chicago factory that its workers use to grow vegetables.

As chief executive officer and owner, Tim Enright’s responsibilities run the gamut, but his strengths lie in sales and merchandising, he says. He also takes the lead on product development and pricing. An additional member of the team who helps everything run smoothly is Margaret Kerr, who oversees human resources, as well as inbound and outbound shipping. 

“Since our staff is so lean, we all work very hard,” Enright says. At the same time, he makes sure to recognize and reward performance.

“We offer a lot of incentives, including bonuses and extra time off for perfect attendance,” he says. The company also has a 2-acre farm on its property that it makes available to employees. Enright provides the seeds and irrigation, and interested employees volunteer their time to tend plants after shifts and on weekends.

“They take home baskets of delicious, homegrown food every week,” Enright says. “Most years, the farm produces lots of watermelons, peppers, onions, tomatoes and zucchinis, which everyone can share.”

To keep his small, unionized team at its most productive and minimize injuries, Enright has been investing in new equipment. Recent purchases include an automatic bagging system and conveyor that eliminates the need for a worker to lift and shove a finished bed into a bag. Enright also recently bought a second laminating machine to speed the gluing process, and he plans to attend ISPA EXPO 2020 March 18-20 in New Orleans to shop for other new machines to improve operations.

“Our workers are very flexible and open to new ways of doing things,” Enright says. “Everyone is cross-trained to perform a variety of tasks as part of our lean approach, and it becomes almost a competition to see how many areas you can master. Our commitment to continuous improvement is very intense, so it’s important that everyone keeps evolving and advancing their skills.”

Evolving with the market

The same philosophy holds true for Estee’s product line. The company’s flagship collection is Made to Ride, which has been in the line for about eight years but is continually refreshed with new features. Recent enhancements include the addition of stain- and moisture-resistant fabrics. The new covers feature a textile finish that uses nanotechnology to “self-clean,” repelling both stains and spills.

“This is a big issue in trucking, especially with fleets, where multiple drivers use the same trucks,” Enright says. “If a mattress has a stain, some drivers will refuse to drive.”

The Made to Ride line includes three models — Rest Stop, Long Haul and Dreamline — in seven standard sizes. Rest Stop, which starts at $177, is a 6 1/2-inch innerspring model with two layers of polyurethane foam for comfort and support. Long Haul, priced from $247, is an 8-inch mattress with a top layer of “air technology” memory foam, a middle foam layer for support and contouring comfort, and a base layer of high-density foam, all covered in a stretch knit cover with cooling properties. Dreamliner, the top-end model, priced from $284, is a 9-inch mattress that has similar features as the Long Haul but with an added layer of patented microcoils that flexes four ways. 

“These mattresses were created specifically for truck drivers to help them relax and sleep better when they are away from home,” Enright says. “Truckers tend to be big guys, so it’s important to have a dense support layer beneath the comfort foam.”

Estee describes its open-celled air technology memory foam as having “air capsules” to provide comfort and support at virtually any air temperature, and the company says it is well-suited for a truck cab, where temperatures may vary greatly. “This foam can be put in the freezer and still stay soft,” Enright says. Meanwhile, cooling technologies in the top layers and temperature-regulating mattress covers keep sleepers cool when temperatures soar. 

“Our foams self-adjust to the cab’s temperature to keep drivers comfortable so they can get quality rest,” he says.

All three Made to Ride models also feature a nonskid bottom — an important feature that ensures beds stay in place when trucks are in motion. The beds also come with a canvas laundry bag, an extra that truckers “really appreciate since they are living on the road for long periods of time,” Enright says. All materials used in the beds have been tested to meet or exceed applicable federal motor vehicle flammability standards.

Estee markets its beds directly to truck manufacturers for inclusion in models sold through dealership networks and also sells to major fleets, as well as to aftermarket parts distributors. The company services customers in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

In addition, the company sells mattresses, pillows and sheet sets directly to individual drivers via its recently enhanced website. Estee ships beds bought online directly to customers in a compact box for easy delivery. Shipping is free, and if customers aren’t satisfied for any reason, they can return the mattress within 100 days at no charge.

“Nobody has taken us up on that yet,” Enright says. “But it’s important that customers know we will do whatever it takes to make sure they are satisfied.”

With all of its truck beds, Estee offers a wide variety of sizes, and the ability to do custom sizes is important, Enright says, because the space allocated for beds in truck cabs can vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. 

“One leading truck maker has 17 different bed sizes that we make,” Enright says. “As long as there’s a minimum volume, we’ll make any size that a customer might need.”

One common footprint for a truck mattress is 42 inches by 80 inches, Enright says. He adds that Estee doesn’t use terms like twin, full or queen in its product descriptions because “these sizes simply aren’t relevant in our business.”

In addition to truck beds, Estee offers a line of sofa sleepers for use by hotels called Hotel Sleeperzzz. Other products include rollaway beds for hotels and dorm mattresses for schools. As with its truck beds, Estee has the ability to make custom mattresses to fit a wide variety of sofa sleeper and rollaway dimensions.

Hospitality beds represent a growing market for Estee, and the company is rolling out an enhanced landing page on its website this month that spotlights this part of its line. In 2019, Estee updated the truck-related content on its site to include more customer reviews and other features.

Building on strengths

As Estee moves into the new year — and a fresh decade — the company is preparing for a bit of a slowdown. But that is to be expected, Enright says, given how strong sales were in 2018 and 2019.

“The last two years were record periods for the truck industry,” he says. “We had a very good run until the fourth quarter of ’19, when activity started to slow. We expect that to continue for the near term and eventually pick up again as fleets age.”

Unlike retail, Estee’s business remains fairly steady during a typical year because truck manufacturers operate within a framework of annual plans and budgets. “We don’t face the ups and downs that the retail business does, where so much depends on holidays and other promotions,” Enright says.

While Enright does see one big long-term threat looming on the horizon — the rise of driverless trucks — he doesn’t see that transition occurring anytime soon. “Sure, self-driving trucks are being tested, but there is still a human driver on board to keep an eye on things. It will be many years until we get to the point where there is no driver in the truck.”

In the meantime, Enright adds, long-haul trucks still will need quality beds — and that means his plant will stay busy. And, in this era when fleets are fighting hard to attract and retain drivers, the humble in-cab mattress may play an even bigger role within the truck.

“One of the large truck fleets that is having trouble keeping drivers did a survey recently that asked, ‘What can we do to retain you?’ One of the most common answers was ‘Give us better mattresses so that we can get more sleep.’ ” •

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Latexco’s SnoFom Has Unique Properties https://bedtimesmagazine.com/2020/02/latexcos-snofom-has-unique-properties/ Wed, 05 Feb 2020 00:44:31 +0000 https://bedtimesmagazine.com/?p=109008 Latexco U.S. Holdings LLC, based in Lavonia, Georgia, has...

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Latexco U.S. Holdings LLC, based in Lavonia, Georgia, has launched a polyurethane foam called SnoFom that it says represents its flagship offering and a new category of high-end foam.

Named for its snowy white appearance and softness, SnoFom provides the most airflow of any polyurethane foam in the Latexco U.S. portfolio, the company said in a news release. It added that the foam was designed to follow the natural movement of the body and maintain the same pressure distribution over time, making it ideal for a top comfort layer in high-end mattresses, toppers and pillows.

Latexco SnoFom coolinng breathable polyurethane foam for mattresses
Latexco U.S. Holdings LLC’s new SnoFom features an open-cell structure designed to promote airflow and provide support.

According to the company, SnoFom promotes optimal sleep comfort and quality by balancing the body and mattress microclimate. Latexco said tests have shown that SnoFom has a lower buildup of both heat and humidity, compared with memory foam. It also has performed better in compression and recovery tests, compared with high-resilience foam, which makes it ideal for vacuum packing and roll packing, the company said.

Brent Limer, chief sales officer, said: “SnoFom offers the best comfort and support attributes of both memory foam and high-resilience foam with the highest airflow we have ever seen.”

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