Being Grateful Is Being Happy

My brother Jeff sent me this link a few days ago so I thought I would pass it along to you. It is a blog post about being grateful written by Kristin Wong and posted to Lifehacker. In it you can learn how to be more grateful and why. You can feel more in control, it increases your happiness, helps you fall asleep, makes you feel more resilient and the list goes on so check it out!

My personal note to you today is that I am grateful for many things and YOU are on the list. Seriously. I feel very fortunate to be in an industry with so many good friends, and doing what I love to do and many of you are the reason that I am having such a great time. I am thankful that I get to write this blog and have an audience of people tuning in every week to hear at least one guys perspective on what is going on. So for everyone that takes a few minutes to read each week I say THANK YOU!!

 Being Grateful Is Being Happy

For today…burry all of the junk that doesn’t matter, avoid the petty arguments with family, don’t drink too much Thanksgiving cheer, and put the stretchy pants on and get after it. From my family to yours…       HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!



Why Is ISPA Really Changing Their Sales Reports?

In this recent announcement posted on Furniture Today, the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA), announced that they were changing the way they report industry numbers. The three primary changes are:

  1. Report quarterly vs. monthly
  2. Improve accuracy of foam mattress imports by weeding out pet beds from human beds.
  3. Stop breaking out the categories from innerspring vs. non-innerspring or “specialty” bedding products.

It’s that third one that I want to talk about today. I sent an email to Ryan Trainer and Mary Helen Rogers at ISPA asking why they decided to stop breaking out the categories. This was part of the response I got back from Ryan:

“As you know, the spring/non-spring breakout evolved at a time when the industry was fairly clearly divided into 2 segments:  traditional mattresses (i.e., innerspring segment) and the newer memory foam, latex, all foam and air mattresses (the non-innerspring segment).  At that time, the segments in general represented the non-premium and premium ends of the market.  Over time, however, the gap between these segments began to fill in as lower-priced foam mattresses entered the market, gel began taking market share at lower prices and the new hybrids exploded.  As a result, the innerspring/non-innerspring distinction no longer provides an accurate profile of premium and non-premium mattress sales.” Here are a few thoughts on these comments:

  • If the original intent was to talk about premium and non-premium mattresses, then why didn’t the report  just say that? The real reason the report was broken down was so the industry could see what types of products were driving the growth. If people were implying that those categories represented premium vs. non premium, it was an unintended consequence.
  • I think it is a very big jump to say that innerspring/non-innerspring was an accurate way to say premium and non premium. There has always been a significant amount of premium innerspring business being done by many bedding producers out there. Weren’t Serta, Sealy, Simmons, Stearns and Foster and Kingsdown selling high end innerspring products, not to mention many others? Did ISPA really allow the report to be published for that long in the current form KNOWING that the majority of their audience was interpreting it as premium vs. non premium?
  • If there was any interpretation that  innerspring/non-innerspring somehow translated to premium/non premium then shouldn’t ISPA simply clarify that to the analyst following the industry that were confused on the subject? This has been going on long enough that I am guessing most of them understand it by now anyway.

willis2 Why Is ISPA Really Changing Their Sales Reports?

When you drill down further, the argument continues to fall apart because ISPA has been reporting specifics on sales BY PRICE POINT that clearly defines what the premium and non premium business looks like. In light of that, I asked ISPA why they wouldn’t just continue to report innerspring vs. non-innerspring as they have for years, and point anyone that needs more clarity on the subject to this very comprehensive report? They weren’t sure.

According to ISPA numbers, this is what is going on with innerspring vs. non-innerspring:


  • 2013 vs. 2012-innerspring  up 8.1% non innerspring down -4.3%
  • 2014 vs. 2013-innerspring up 8.7% non innerspring up 7.6%
  • 2015 vs 2014 as of September-innerspring up 14.1% non innerspring down -3.8%

Who gets hurt if ISPA continues to report innerspring vs. non innerspring sales given these trends? Did somebody complain about the current reporting because the momentum has shifted and it creates a negative perception about their business? I only ask these questions because the reasoning behind the reporting changes makes no sense to me so this is where that takes me.

Tempur-Pedic is one of the largest specialty bed producers out there and they are doing well. 3rd quarter 2015 results show a sales increase in North America of 8.2% and margin improvement from 35.6% to 38.8% but I wonder how much of that is due to their new hybrid offering Tempur Flex? The numbers for Sealy Optimum, i Series, and Comforpedic etc. must be really off if the category is down that much.

I have talked to some industry analyst that aren’t too sure about the changes either, and don’t understand the explanation behind them any more than I do. The introduction of the specialty category brought about a seismic shift that was worth measuring in order to fully understand the landscape of the marketplace. Now that there is a trend in the other direction creating a similar shift, is ISPA going to stop reporting it?!?  Isn’t understanding the decline of the category just as important as understanding the climb? Would the car industry simply stop reporting truck sales if they started to fall off?

Tell me what you think, why is the change taking place and have I been unfair in my representation of the issue?




Profit Pressure Equals Downsizing

The latest round of axe swinging is complete and this time it is the Serta/Simmons Bedding (SSB), work force that are the victims. My understanding is that close to 100 employees were given their notice as the executive team tries to figure out how to streamline their business and improve those bottom line results.

downsizing Profit Pressure Equals Downsizing

SSB has a little different situation than Tempur/Sealy from where I sit. With Tempur Sealy you have a very strategic portfolio of brands. Tempur-Pedic with the strongest specialty sleep line in the industry. Sealy with a good brand and product line that can take you from velocity price points into the lower upper end, and the Stearns and Foster line  that positions them well in the luxury category. With SSB on the other hand you have two companies with a very similar product strategy where they essentially compete in every category.

Managing brands is difficult for even the most skilled marketing people, so consolidating these two groups and asking the sales force to navigate that effectively is going to be tricky. When a rep is trying to figure out which brand gets placed at a $999 price point and both groups have strong hybrid offerings, who gets the nod? I know that each situation is different, but I worked for a company that did this 20 something years ago and I’m telling you, its not as easy as it sounds. Anyone remember “Share The Vision”?

We have two industry outsiders that will be running these companies in 2016 with Michael Traub for SSB and Scott Thompson for Tempur/Sealy. I posted a blog about the challenges outsiders face when coming in to the mattress industry which you can read HERE. Traub and I later laughed about this as he gave me a hard time about my comments. I reminded him however that I didn’t say an outsider could not be successful, I said that many have tried and failed because they over simplify the business.

There have been some very ambitious comments made about growing profit in these organizations and to get there you will likely have to do things like reduce overhead (cut people), value engineer products (code word for de-spec), reduce co op spending and increase brand spending, raise prices, and the list goes on. Not easy to do in an environment where you have so much retail consolidation giving more leverage to the retailers out there, a move to the internet for non branded mattresses and an increase of private label interest in the industry. They will be wise not to over play their hand. (Read more about why I think the “S” brands are less relevant today at THIS LINK.)

For the HR people that had to carry out the downsizing, I feel for you because I know that isn’t easy to do. And for the people that got let go at both Tempur/Sealy and SSB over the last few months, my prayers go out for all of you and your families today but keep the faith because you are on your path, and something good can come out of this for you if you choose it.




Discount Tire Doesn’t Discount The Experience

So…I exit interstate 44 on Range line, (in our little town that is a busy spot) and I hit something and my tire goes immediately flat. I am in the worst possible place, lots of traffic right at rush hour, and no way to change the tire safely. My son Nick says a little prayer and one minute later, (not kidding) Jerry from Ford, Duane Preskey the Assistant Vice President of the new Discount Tire on Range Line, and Metro Towing arrive to assist me and both of my kids. With the flashing lights of the tow truck we were able to get the spare on and get us out of the middle of traffic. If you want somebody in your corner praying for you, I suggest you reach out to my son!

This is the beginning of the story and it gets a little weird after that so listen to this Sleep Geek podcast to hear the rest of the story and how Mark Kinsley and I both end up raving about Discount Tire and their incredible approach to customer service.  Little did I know at the time, after blasting social media singing the praises of Discount Tire, Kinsley actually had his own experience with those guys and had written his own blog about that which you can read HERE. I am pretty sure the Discount Tire guys are going to think mattress people are a bunch of freaks that love tires.


IMG 8903 1 768x1024 Discount Tire Doesnt Discount The Experience

My new best buddy Duane from Discout Tire

It was great to be in the studio with Kinsley again and it confirmed how much I miss hanging out with that guy on a daily basis. While we were in studio we produced a second podcast where Mark gets the latest update on Spink and Edgar, details on when we launch product, the challenges we have had along the way, my new found respect for product design, and why I am more convinced than ever that we are going to make a great impact in the market.  If you are interested in that update listen to THIS PODCAST for all of the juicy details.

I am on a plane about to take off to celebrate my sisters 50th birthday with friends and family in Houston, so I will sign off and wish you all a great weekend. Make it count!


What Is Driving Our Industry?

I read the Mattress Industry Executives Linked In post by Barrie Brown as it related to Tempur Sealy a little over a week ago and thought that Barrie raised some good questions and made some good points. (If you are not a group member you need to go request membership and check it out.) Then I read the announcement today that Tempur-Sealy was reducing their work force by 2% or about 140 jobs. Whenever this happens my phone starts to ring and I hate how those calls go because it usually means that someone has lost their job and they are looking for new opportunities.

I don’t fault Tempur Sealy for trying to drive profits, everybody has to be accountable to someone. My problem is when you are serving only the investors, the opportunity to make this industry something great is lost. In these big companies I am guessing very few of them are sitting around trying to figure out better ways to educate the consumer on how to improve their sleep. Maybe the marketing team is doing some work around that but I seriously doubt it is brought up at board meetings. According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), sleep depravation is a major public health issue. What role should our industry play in trying to help solve that problem? Are we part of the solution or are we just slinging mattresses?

 What Is Driving Our Industry?

If the people with the lions share of money in this business were to focus more on research and development around solving sleep problems instead of giving it lip service in their marketing materials, we could make a real impact on human kind. (Yes I realize that is a HUGE statement but can you really argue it?) All I am saying here is if your core focus is  making money, then your output will represent that. What if you make it your goal to help people realize a better quality of life through better sleep equipment like a mattress, or if you invest in more research around sleep deprivation as it relates to your products, or if you partner with others searching for similar answers and join resources to solve a common problem, or you invest more heavily in the research and development part of your business with a laser beam focus on actually improving sleep and not creating some gimmick that you can push on consumers. If we as an industry were really doing these things, what would happen? Would our products be different? Would our advertising say something else? Would our websites change?

When Tempur Sealy announced hiring Scott Thompson as CEO they talk about creating shareholder value and then mention “profitable growth” a few times but nothing about their customers interest, the consumers interest or anything deeper than the dollar. I have worked for public companies before and I understand how it is, so even though this sounds like an assault on Tempur Sealy, it really isn’t. It is more about the ownership interest of most bedding companies in our industry and how I think we are missing the bigger, more important picture. Grow profits, cut cost, streamline operations, consolidate everywhere you can, give less and spin it as more, and value engineer products until the value is gone. That’s where we are these days.

If we shift our focus from profit to purpose, what could happen as a result of that? I bet we would change a lot of people’s lives for the better and still drive the bottom line in an even bigger way.