Sit’N Sleep Golfs For A Cure

It was my pleasure to attend the Sit’N Sleep annual golf tournament this last week to benefit the Susan G. Koman foundation. The Koman foundation is the largest organization in the world when it comes to funding the fight against breast cancer, investing over $2.6 billion to find a way to beat this deadly disease.

Nelson kicks it off!

Nelson kicks it off!

Nelson Bercier, avid golfer and President of Sit’N Sleep, along with his team did an amazing job this year. It was my first time attending and I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it was. There were ugly golf pants, golf ball cannons, clubs that shoot balls with the help of a 22 caliber round of ammunition, and maybe something even more dangerous than that was the saki bomb/margarita station nestled deep in the middle of the course. (See it all in my short video.)

I am also lucky to be able to attend the Sleep Train charity event that benefits foster kids, the Seena Magowitz Golf Tournament that raises money to help fight pancreatic cancer, and the Ante 4 Autism celebrity poker tournament in Las Vegas. I bring these other events up because I am always impressed with how this industry rallies around charitable causes. As a group we donate our time, talent and resources to try and support each other in bringing awareness to causes that need our help and I love that about this crazy little industry.

In the past 10 months I have spent some time getting to know the Sit’N Sleep organization built by Larry Miller and Nelson Bercier. I knew early on these guys had created something special but it becomes even more clear when you attend an event like this. The culture they encourage is all about what is good for the team, not the individual. A selfless approach to doing business that looks down on the maverick, hotshot sales person that just wants to be top dog. In that spirit, they all came together to support the fight against a disease that claims over 40,000 lives every year. Their passion for their business and this cause are contagious and I can’t wait until next year.We launched Spink and Edgar at Sit’N Sleep because we thought if anyone could represent our product to the consumer it was these guys. We were right.

Catching up with a long time friend and loyal Q's Views reader Pattie Trigueros

Catching up with a long time friend and loyal Q’s Views reader Pattie Trigueros with Serta/Simmons.

I want to thank everyone at Sit’N Sleep. Not just for including me this year but for what you do to model all that is good in this industry. I sincerely appreciate every time you sell a Spink and Edgar or a bed made by Sherwood, and for the way you welcome me every time I walk into your office or store. What you did this week was incredible and you should all be very proud of the effort. I know this kind of thing takes a lot of work so to everybody that helped out…WELL DONE!

Even though my foursome didn’t win the event we had a blast. I want to give special thanks to Jeremy Bercier for inviting me to play with his group and to Mike and Bob for tolerating my poor play. Thanks for some great stories and a wonderful day on the course!

BONUS CONTENT: Check out our most recent Dos Marcos podcast where we talk about the big Magowitz Charity Event, my recent visit to Jordan’s Furniture and more.

Mark, Mike, Jeremy and Bob.

Mark, Mike, Jeremy and Bob.

The Value Of A Relationship

I went to my 30 year high school reunion this last weekend. Is it possible that I have been out of high school that long? I admit having mixed emotions about attending this event; a bunch of people in a room that remember younger versions of each other, all telling stories of how great their life is now. The reality of the weekend was that I had a blast. I was able to reunite with some of my original “wolfpack” from the class of 86 and it was incredible. I had not spent time with many of them for a very long time but it was so easy to fall right back into where we used to be. Conversations were effortless and for my small group we laughed until our stomachs hurt. I love them all and am so very grateful for those relationships.

My Class Of 86 Wolfpack- Yes there were more than two guys in it, they just didn't make it.

My Class Of 86 Wolfpack-
Yes there were more than two guys in it, they just didn’t make it.

How important are relationships to each of us in our personal lives? How about when it comes to our business? I have been told so many times that our industry is very relationship focused, even more than other industries. Is that true? It sure feels like it given the fact that we are not all that big as a group.

A great relationship can open a door, solve a problem, get you a price increase, keep out the competitors, save an account, GET YOU AN ACCOUNT, deliver inside information, or just be the glue that holds things together. So why is it that some of the big corporate types just don’t get it? I have seen it so many times when management, that really has no freaking clue what they are doing, comes in and moves people around in a territory or on an account because of some big master plan. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there is never a time to do this but if things are going well…the account is happy…you are profitable…and life in general is pretty dang good, why in the world would you disrupt a solid relationship? How many times have we watched this happen and as a result the bedding producer loses volume and the retailer gets upset. If you are selling at retail and a consumer walks through the door and ask for her favorite sales person “Maggie”, would you deny her that request and give her “Jim” instead?

 

Flip the coin for a minute. If you are buying anything substantial like…a company, a car, a house, a bedding line, a pillow line etc., does a solid relationship with the seller matter to you? Does that TRUST that exist, that bond you have, impact the intangibles of the deal? Harry Cornell from Leggett and Platt was probably one of the true legends in our industry when it came to building relationships. He developed them with the people he sold to and with the owners of the companies he bought. He told me once that those people and those relationships were the key to his success over time. I think he is right.

 

I have my “wolfpack” from high school but I have one in the mattress industry as well. Yes it helps me succeed at my job but it also gives my life meaning. The people that I trust and that trust me mean more than any job or financial outcome. My friends and relationships define me really. I am always there for them if needed and they for me, because you have to invest in people to really show them how much you care. That’s when the really good stuff happens.

wolfpack

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Creatives Are Courageous

So what did you think of this video? If you sat down to eat at a restaurant that featured a “little” dinner entertainment like the Petite Chef, would you go away impressed? Would you tell somebody?

Last week I wrote about Jordan’s Furniture and what an amazing job they do making an impact on their customers. They EARN the traffic and the business because they value a creative approach. Do you? Does it show? I know that I am a broken record on some of this but I want to hit this point hard today because I really believe that this incredible industry that we all work in could be so much more.

Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist, the only problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” Given all of the boxes that organizations put us in expecting us to produce an outcome, I can see how this statement is true. I have been involved in many business meetings over the years that have been billed as brainstorms run by people that really don’t understand what a real brainstorm is. They all start with great intentions, where people are throwing ideas out, getting excited about a new way to sell something or create something, and either the leader of the meeting or someone else inevitably squashes it by pointing out why it couldn’t possibly work. What happens if you let that meeting run wild, force rank the best ideas, and then figure out how to make something work instead of the default of why it won’t?

The award winning Ring is a doorbell. A doorbell that does some really amazing things but at the end of the day it is a doorbell. Luggage didn’t used to have wheels. Beds didn’t used to tell you anything about your sleep. Retail stores didn’t used to have IMAX theaters. I have spent time with bedding producers and retailers that are concerned about their business surviving. They talk about the competition, macro economic conditions, and the complexity of marketing today as reasons for the problems they face and I totally get that. Mostly now being a small business owner in this industry. HOWEVER, all of the great ideas are not gone! How hard are you working to bring creative ideas to the table? How often do you try them? What kind of creative people do you have on your staff and do you allow them to be creative? If you don’t invest the time or in the kind of people that can take you outside of where you are, the result will never be what it could be.

The challenge with this is to proceed with caution. Inspire the creative approach to business but be calculated in your execution. Try in small doses when you can. Fail cheaply when you can. Make sure that everything intersects DIRECTLY with your business objective in a way that can be clearly measured. I have made this mistake myself and its easy to do when you get caught up in the fun of the new idea.

I loved working at Leggett and Platt so when people ask me why I left a great job at the age of 46 when I had two kids, I tell them its because Simon Spinks has created something so incredible in the business model of “growing beds” that I had to be a part of it. I was inspired. What inspires you? Chase after it because that is where the truly great stuff will happen.

creativity

 

The Willy Wonka Of The Furniture Industry

I recently wrote about my upcoming trip to the annual Seena Magowitz event and as expected it was a huge success. Dave Perry does a great write up about it in Furniture Today so check that out. He even gave Kinsley and I some love as he reviewed our performance as the events auctioneers. I am happy to say that we were able to extract $125,000 this year from the very generous attendees so thanks again to everybody that participated.

Instead of golfing this year I went on a private tour of Jordan’s Furniture, hosted by Peter Bolton their COO and Lorie Silva their Director of Bedding Operations or the “Bedding goddess” as some refer to her. Yes I love to golf but I have been in the industry for 25 years and have never been to Jordan’s so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity. Boy am I glad I went.

Here are a few facts for you to consider about this furniture mecca.  It was started way back in 1918 by Samuel Tatelman and in the late 30’s his son Edward joined the business. Edward’s sons Barry and Eliot took over after that that and grew it into what is is today. They have 7 locations and get over 3 million people in their stores annually. They were purchased in 1999 by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. when reported sales were estimated at $250 million so one can only imagine where those numbers are today.

I can sum up my big takeaway from this trip in a single word. VISION. I was talking to Peter about the early years and heard him speak of his father who was an Orthopedic Surgeon and how conversations with his father grew into a VISION where he thought selling a mattress should be about more than the item itself. Instead, linking it to human form and health. Lorie’s VISION of turning the entire mattress category into a place where the consumer could come and learn about the product the right way. Dressing her sales force in white lab coats only AFTER they had earned their stripes learning about sleep and sleep equipment in an 8 week training course.  The VISION of Elliot as he stood on top of a trash heap and spoke of how awesome it was going to be when they transformed that spot into “Beantown” one of their newest locations that gets over 1 million visitors a year. If that’s not enough there are IMAX theater’s, dancing water shows and a Bean Stalk ropes course to entertain the Jordan’s guest as they shop.

If your business delivered a great customer experience, sold quality merchandise at fair prices, and made significant profits for your shareholders, you would be pretty happy with that right? Jordan’s didn’t stop there. The VISION was to create such an incredible place that it has become a tourist destination! This is a place where families from all over Boston have come to shop AND CREATE MEMORIES. If you are having fun, will you be in a state of mind to spend money? Have you ever been to a tourist destination on vacation and hit the shops in town? Did you happily spend some money?

This is the kind of thinking that gets me fired up. They are without a doubt the Willy Wonka of the furniture industry. Not just a place to buy a sofa or a mattress, but a place to come and EXPERIENCE something truly unique. The best part of this for me is the heart that goes into every detail. These guys aren’t building these stores just to sell product. They are building these EXPERIENCES to WOW their customer. To exceed the wildest expectation and earn those big eyes they see on the face of every kid that walks through the front door. When you watch Peter and Lori and the rest of the team at Jordan’s talk about their store, they tell the story with great enthusiasm as if it were the first time they had shown the place off to somebody. That passion and excitement is contagious and the transfer of that to the customer pays big dividends.

Congrats to every Jordan’s employee out there because I know it takes all of you to deliver on the promise of the brand. You guys have accomplished something outrageously good. Well done!

Water Show

Water Show

Ropes Course

Ropes Course

Jordan's Furniture in Reading, MA

Jordan’s Furniture in Reading, MA

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Magowitz Moves To Beantown

On August 27th my wife Bridget and I are getting on a plane and heading to Boston for the 14th annual Seena Magowitz Golf Classic. This is something that we always look forward to because Roger Magowitz and Liz McBeth do an incredible job putting on a first class event, and all in the name of a very worthy cause!

I have been involved with this charity for several years now and it has been so great to see this event grow as it raises money to help build awareness and fund research to put an end to one of the most deadly forms of cancer there is. This year alone over 40,000 people will die from the disease. The good news is, Roger and his team are fighting back by helping to fund research that will allow for early detection, and giving money to support more clinical trials to find medications that are able to fight the disease.

If you have not been to this event you really HAVE TO GO. We are going to a Red Sox game, playing golf, taking a cruise on a lobster boat and even taking a private tour of the legendary Jordan’s Furniture. On top of all of that we are staying at the incredible Boston Harbor Hotel which is the only Forbes Five Star Waterfront hotel.

OOOO La La- a14.5 carat fantasy cut oval amethyst

OOOO La La- a14.5 carat fantasy cut oval amethyst

My good buddy Mark Kinsley and I will be your live auctioneers once again as we attempt to break last years record. It shouldn’t be hard as we have some  really great things to put on the block. How would you like to throw out the first pitch at the Red Sox/KC Royals baseball game? Maybe a luxury box to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks, NY Yankees, NY Mets or the Sacramento Kings play ball? Guys, show your spouse some love and get her a 14.5 carat diamond and amethyst pendant, or a 5.4 carat diamond tennis bracelet. Attention all golfers, you need to spend more time on the course so what better way to do that than in your own golf cart sponsored by E-Z Go. (I bought one of these at the last Magowitz event and it is awesome, just ask my kids.) If you want to hear more about the event listen to the Sleep Geek Podcast with Dos Marcos where we talk about Magowitz and the recent Mattress Firm/Steinhoff deal among other things.  And for all of you wise guys that listen to this podcast, I know that 7,500 + 3,500= 11,000 and that Mark Spitz actually ended up with 9 gold medals but he won 7 at the 1972 Summer Olympics so cut me some slack!

I am fired up for Boston because I will get to see some great industry friends, give Dr. Dan Von Hoff a big hug for all that he does at Tgen for people fighting this horrible disease,  and spend time with my incredible wife in one of the coolest cities in the United States. There is no doubt that this event is one of the very best in our industry so DO NOT MISS OUT!