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!

Inside the Mattress Firm and Steinhoff Deal

In the last few weeks Mattress Firm has been beaten up and left for dead by some stock analyst out there. Some claiming that Mattress Firm has nowhere to go but down, and that the value of the company was well below the current stock price which was about $30 at the time. For people with no long term view that might be true, but not for Markus Jooste and the Steinhoff Company.

Markus Jooste CEO Steinhoff International Holdings

Markus Jooste, CEO Steinhoff International


I met Markus a few years ago when I was working at Leggett and Platt and it didn’t take long for me to realize that he was a master deal maker with great integrity  and is a first rate business man. Not to blow too much smoke here but if you ever have the chance to be around Markus I think you will understand what I am talking about. In my opinion he is one of the few visionaries left in the mattress/furniture industry. Markus sees what he wants and he goes after it aggressively which is exactly what he has done in this case. The question is, did he make a good deal?

People have been calling me non-stop since the announcement on Sunday to discuss the big news of the Mattress Firm buyout at 115% of their stock price. If you look at Mattress Firm today in their current state and then try to reconcile the price Steinhoff paid, you might have some trouble justifying the number. If your Markus, you see things not as they are but instead, how they could be. Once you do that and consider their past success, it becomes more clear.

Steinhoff has proven over and over that it understands how to run retail AND supply their own companies with goods that they make. These guys have several retail formats from mattress stores, to furniture stores to mass discount retail. To be successful in all formats and grow to over 10,000 retail outlets, it takes more than luck. They get it.

mattress firm

I have heard Markus talk about how good his own management team is and how important it is to have a solid management team in place when he looks at companies to buy. Knowing the Mattress Firm leadership, it is no surprise that the two companies mesh perfectly when it comes to culture. So when you pay that kind of premium to buy a company I think it says a lot about Steinhoff’s opinion of what the Mattress Firm management team can do and how far they can take the business under the right ownership structure. (On that note, I don’t know of another company that could max out the upside to the MFRM purchase like Steinhoff can and will.) The good news is, they are not going to be the only ones to benefit from this deal.

As for the industry, I think it is a HUGE win for us as well. We have a new player in the United States market that has a big passion for BUILDING companies, not for buying them and bleeding them out. They understand what it means to be successful and to deliver a great product and experience to the consumer. If our largest mattress retailer is now owned by a company with a long term view, I would make an argument that this rising tide could lift all boats.

I have had a chance to meet several people in the Steinhoff organization so if you are reading this I say congratulations! Steinhoff bought the right retailer and you are now part of one of the most dynamic mattress markets on the planet. You guys have built a world class organization and now represent the worlds largest mattress distribution organization. Well done; we are very glad to have you.

As for the Mattress Firm… most of you don’t know Markus or his team yet but trust me when I say, you should be very glad that you are now in the Steinhoff family of companies. You have built the first coast to coast mattress retailer in the United States and have been highly criticized over the last 3 months by some on the sidelines. People have shorted your stock in a significant way, betting against you and your ability to produce a result. Well, consider this your 3 point shot at half court to win the game. Many of us are very happy for what this means to your organization and your ability to focus on what is important; selling beds. Congratulations to you all.


The Perfect Ending

Today I am writing to tell you about a CRAZY story and to celebrate one of my hero’s. If you have been reading this blog for very long you have probably heard me talk about my 14 year old daughter Gabby and her softball team. She has been a part of the Battitudes family for the last 4 years and I say family, because that is exactly what it is.

Every year we play we end up at some big tournament to end the season. This year we played at a World Series in Iowa for the 13 U division and finished in the top 15 so for us, that was a pretty disappointing result.  The final tournament this year was in Arkansas at the 14 and under National Championship. There were about 40 teams from several states so we knew we had our work cut out for us; especially playing against older girls.

So….we lose our first game to a team we should have beat so we were on some shaky ground right at the beginning. Every game right before they take the field I go out and say a few words to the girls in a huddle and we pray together. After that loss I started telling them that the team that plays mentally tough would win it all. Boy was I right. After that first game we got busy and won every game, making it to the championship on Sunday. Our girls were ready and there was absolutely no way they were going to lose. Do you ever just have that feeling? They did and it showed.

Final game, 4th inning we are up 3-1 and we are batting. We have bases loaded with no outs and their pitcher throws an illegal pitch which walks in another run for us making it 4-1. The other teams head coach storms on to the field, confronts the home plate umpire and and gets ejected from the game. He gets so mad after that he starts to scream at the official standing inches from his face, chasing him around the diamond. (Keep in mind that this coach stands about 6’5″ so he is an imposing figure.) He finally gives up, walks off the field and tells his girls to get in the dugout, that they are all going home. WHAT!?!?!?

So this coach robs these girls of their chance to compete for the championship. Like us, they have worked all year to maybe get lucky enough to make it to that moment and create a memory that will last a life time. Their coach was not mentally tough enough and cost them that dream.

We were outraged by this and protested through the fence but it didn’t matter as we realized we weren’t going to change anything. So we watched those girls as they packed up their gear while big tears streamed down their faces. A few thoughts for parents with kids playing competitive ball of any kind:

  • It’s a game so RELAX. As a parent or coach you have to hold it together because your kid is watching you at all times and everything matters.
  • Unless you are the coach keep quiet unless it is to tell them how great they are. If you are the coach, there is no need to scream at your player unless they are not making the effort in which case you can dial up the volume a little.
  •  Being mentally tough isn’t just for the players, it applies to coaches and parents as well. If we all stay cool and support the kids when things get bumpy, they will be much better for it.
  • Apply these bullets to your business in some way. It works there as well.

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After four years and over 400 games the Battitudes took home a National Championship title. To say I am proud of Gabby and her team mates would be an understatement. They worked their butts off and earned what they got. The team is at that point where they are entering high school so this could be their last season together. What a way to finish.

No matter what you are working on, how discouraged you might get along the way, or how many years you go home from the tournament without a medal, stay after it. Work harder, stay mentally tough, and your business will get where you want it to be. A perfect lesson given to me by my 14 year old, I hope it resonates with you as well.

PS. The coach from the other team sent us a nice note apologizing for his actions so I hope that he is able to reconcile that moment. There is learning there for him and that team so as bad as it was, I know some good can come from it.

2016 USSSA National Champions-MVP BATTITUDES

2016 USSSA National Champions-MVP BATTITUDES-My hero, top row last one on the right.






Birds Of A Feather

When I was 28 years old I left Texas and moved to Chicago to start my career at Serta. I wasn’t married and had never lived in a big city like that, not to mention I felt that the job of VP of National Accounts had me way over my skies but hey, nothing ventured nothing gained right? Bottom line is that I was very nervous about it all but thanks people like Ed lilly,Jeff Van Tuyle, Susan Ebaugh, Bill West, Roxanne Franklin, Alan Eisenberg, Scott Tinsley, Dan White, Tim Smith, Bob Sabalasky and many others it was one of the best work experiences I could have hoped for. Another guy that was there was John Rachid. I left Serta after 9 years but John stayed for another 10 or so years to have an incredibly successful career. Until yesterday.

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John announced his departure from Serta and the move to his new position as President of Protect-A-Bed. During John’s time at Serta he drove MILLIONS of dollars of very profitable business at Serta working national and sometimes regional accounts. John was always able to serve the retailer in a way that gave them programs that helped them grow their bedding category, while making money for the company that was paying his check. The most impressive part of his career however, was his heart for his team. John took those relationships very seriously and worked hard to make sure his people were growing and well taken care of.

James Bell, the CEO at Protect-A-Bed, has built a substantial business over the years and has an incredible reputation in the industry. He is just a good guy. Now that he has landed another big fish, he rounds out his team of ex-Serta people. John will join my good buddies Alan Eisenberg and Dan White as they attempt world domination. One of the reasons for this post is to point out the fact that I find it interesting how good people always find a way to come together on projects. James obviously has a very keen eye for talent and it proves that great people are drawn together.

I write this post to celebrate John on his unbelievable career with Serta and the significant contribution he has made to the industry and to everyone that he works with. Congratulations friend.  This is a very big loss to Serta and a very big pick up for Protect-A-Bed so congratulations James and team. You guys are obviously building something special there.



Sizzle Vs. Steak

Your sitting in a beautifully appointed steak house, you have enjoyed a few glasses of the 2013 vintage Jemma Cabernet from Ellman Vineyards, (when your friends own a vineyard you have to hook them up when you can), and you are ready for your main course. You have ordered a perfectly aged porterhouse cut of prime beef grilled to your favorite hue of pink. During an unusual lull in the conversation you hear it first. That mouth watering sound of a hot plate sizzling from the main course about to be presented for your approval. And then you take your first bit and realize that not even the Ellman wine will be able to overcome the horrible taste of that steak you had such high hopes for. Alas. Bring on the truffle infused macaroni and cheese please.

During my time in this business I have heard many sales people tell me”it’s the sizzle not the steak.” In many cases this means that we are to prop up the marketing glitz so we can distract the consumer from the sub par product that is being presented. Is this what we are seeing in the e-commerce space today?


I am not saying that they are all bad products but I will say that I have tested several mattresses that are being sold on line and they are less than impressive. Some just aren’t that comfortable and when you look at the websites that some of these beds come from, they claim to save the consumer a lot of money while delivering superior quality. Really?

My good buddy Dave Perry features a story in the July 11th edition of Furniture Today about the Casper and West Elm relationship. Casper is now going to partner with West Elm and start selling its beds at 77 US brick and mortar locations. Dave suggest that this could be a mistake for Casper according to some industry insiders, because they will now have to compete with other brick and mortar retailers in the market in terms of look and feel. I suggest to you that the move into this particular store was very strategic for Casper because to my knowledge, West Elm has no other beds for Casper to compete with. It’s true that a consumer could shop Casper at West Elm and then leave to compare it to beds found at a sleep shop down the street HOWEVER, there are a lot of customers that will never go through that kind of hassle and will purchase that bed on the spot. Could Casper sell into a larger chain given its brilliant marketing approach and reputation? I think it probably could for the right deal. But if you place a Casper next to other competitive products you have to wonder how it would do. Can somebody conduct a taste test please and let’s see what the survey says.

The big advantage these e-commerce guys have is that the consumer is buying from them in a vacuum.  There is a big advantage to a bedding producer when they own 100% of a retailers floor because they don’t have to beef up product to compete with the other manufactures. Isn’t this pretty much like that?

All of this talk about food and drink has turned my attention to other things. I have a nice bottle of Russian Rive Pinot Amanda waiting for me from the Ellman Vineyard. In this case the the steak is every bit as good as the sizzle.

Ellman Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot

Ellman Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot