The Shifman Tradition: Craftsmanship, Quality and Support

When you walk in to the Shifman Mattress Co. factory, you will immediately be struck by the company’s history within the brick walls of its impressive factory along the Passaic River in historic Newark, NJ. Next you will notice a number of highly skilled craftspeople working meticulously, sewing and quilting covers, creating mattresses and box springs by hand.

Today, it takes more than 23 skilled craftspeople and up to 12 1⁄2 hours to make each Shifman mattress set. Using the exclusive Sanotuft hand-tufting technique, they secure layers of only the finest components—including Belgian damask, matelasse fabrics, and high-end natural cotton, wool, latex, cashmere and pashmina. Each box spring is hand-tied with upholstery-grade coils and imported Italian twine.

Shifman has been committed to this uncompromising approach to manufacturing since 1893, upholding the tried and true tradition of quality craftsmanship and luxury bedding. When Mike Hammer, CEO, took over the reigns of the company in 1985, he introduced a number of updates and improvements to the outdated mattress design—but this commitment to excellence has never wavered. In 2008, Shifman’s Newark, NJ facility underwent an impressive renovation that added 40,000 square feet to the historic building. This major addition increased the company’s manufacturing capabilities by 40%, allowing its team to create more of its luxury mattresses without sacrificing any of the values, techniques or attention-to-detail that have defined the brand from the very beginning.

“The product comes first, always,” explains Shifman President, Bill Hammer. “We make our mattresses to ensure the best quality, longevity and comfort to satisfy the consumer.”

This scrupulous attention to detail is what sets the brand apart in an industry that often turns to shortcuts to lower costs. The difference is in the feel—Shifman mattresses respond to the body, offering maximum comfort, conformance and support. With this mentality, Shifman has carefully developed a truly unique product in the market: a luxury bed that is sumptuous, supportive and substantial. Shifman mattresses are made to last; each has a lifespan of 10 to 20 years, much longer than many mattresses in the industry.

Shifman Factory

“This is not a disposable product,” Hammer explains. “We approach every mattress we make as a custom mattress.”

As the bedding industry continues to evolve, the company is thoughtful about research and development. While many companies are quick to jump on the latest trend, Shifman only invests in new products and materials when there is concrete proof of its added benefit. Rather than innovation just for the sake of innovation—Shifman aims to make sleep the main priority by educating consumers about the benefits of quality, high-end materials. Shifman makes its mattresses with more cotton than any other bedding manufacturer. A highly breathable material, cotton is a naturally durable way to offer advanced temperature regulation.

“We focus on substance,” says Hammer, “with real quality and benefits—not just marketing speak.”

Shifman’s main philosophy is to “offer value at every price.” The company’s next-generation Masters Collection is the apex of highend bedding. With nine different mattress styles, the line-up appeals to a wide-range of different comfort levels without scrimping on its core support components: natural cotton, Talalay latex and eight-way, hand-tied box springs. The cover ticking is made from a soft woven material with complimentary borders to offer a modern look. At the top of the line, the styling includes deluxe specialty tape and 18-carat gold corner guards—elevating this collection to a new level of luxury.

Though much of its business is within the highest echelon of the market, Shifman’s full product portfolio includes a wide range of price points. Ranging from $799 to $2199 at retail, the Quilted Collection offers quality features and materials at a more approachable price. Each mattress is made with a two-sided construction, up to 47 pounds of natural cotton upholstery, a heavy-steel Bonnelll innerspring unit and all-coil grid top boxspring. Made from quality materials and design, the Quilted Collection creates a strategic entry-point for consumers of all ages and budgets who are looking for the look and feel of a Shifman mattress. Together with the mid-range Vintage Collection, Shifman’s comprehensive portfolio offers a variety of revenue opportunities for retailers.

This idea of true value has not only influenced the company’s manufacturing practices, but its strategic distribution decisions as well. The company’s target demographic is the top 20% of the market—discerning consumers with a higher disposable income, who are looking to invest in the quality materials and luxury feels that will complement their high-end tastes. So rather than saturating the market, Shifman sets up exclusive partnerships with the finest department and furniture stores to ensure minimal competition in their area.

Shifman Mattress

Shifman's Masters Collection is the apex of high-end bedding.

For furniture retailers, the choice to stock mattresses is not just an added convenience for their customers—bedding can be an integral part of a store’s overall business and revenue. By offering high-end mattresses along with high-end furniture, retailers can increase their tickets and elevate the overall perception of their store.

As the retail landscape has evolved over the years, many mattress companies operate with the intention of making the most profit at the lowest cost—often at the expense of the product and customer support. But Shifman has never wavered from its commitment to local manufacturing, quality components, long-lasting products and superior service and support. In addition to providing an exclusive selling opportunity, limited distribution allows Shifman to really support their dealers with quality service.

This commitment to creating strong relationships with its retailers is just another way Shifman sets itself apart from its competition. The company recently celebrated 80 years of working with Benjamin T. Moyer Furniture in Sunbury, PA. “There is just no other mattress like it in the business. Everyone else has changed,” notes Dave Moyer, current store manager. “Shifman processes its own cotton and hand tufts its mattresses. The materials are all natural, not synthetic. These are the quality products we choose to put in our store. In fact we sell more Shifman mattresses than anything else in the store.”

To commemorate this monumental anniversary, Shifman created a new version of its two-sided cotton, hand-tufted mattress on a real working box spring especially for the Benjamin T. Moyer store. Shifman adheres to the idea that the mattress should fit the sleeper, not the other way around—and because every Shifman bed is hand-made, the company is able to tailor its products to the unique needs of its retail partners and dealers.

Shifman Factory

President Bill Hammer and CEO Mike Hammer

It’s with that goal in mind that Shifman is looking toward the future. The company is embarking on major national branding push in the coming year—aimed to help its existing retailers and reach new prospects. In addition to print advertising, it is developing new television and radio ads, in partnership with their dealers, to expand their consumer reach. Hammer has a clear vision of what’s next for the brand: making sleep a priority, educating consumers about the importance of quality.

“When the consumer sees the value in sleeping better, mattresses become much more than just another commodity,” Hammer explains. “We want to make quality sleep a priority again.”