Niles Cornelius, a bedding industry veteran who has held a variety of executive positions with Hickory Springs Manufacturing (“HSM”), will retire from his current post as product training manager on July 1. His retirement marks the end of a distinguished 47-year career in the home products industry, during which he helped reshape the company’s bedding division into an innovative bedding products manufacturer and became one of the most highly respected and beloved executives in the industry.
An illustrious history
Cornelius joined HSM in 2008 as general manager of its Hickory at Home division, overseeing sales, marketing and operations. The division produced futon frames and mattresses, youth furniture, memory foam pillows and daybeds which were distributed to furniture stores, specialty sleep retailers and catalog retailers nationally.
From the beginning, Cornelius was a key member of HSM’s sales and product development team whose work helped fuel the growth of the company’s bedding business into an industry-leading provider of innovative products and components. As bedding product training manager, he developed training programs for RSAs on how to present HSM’s innovative mattress components (including innersprings and microcoils), adjustable bed bases, beds in a box, bed rails and frames, and fabric-encased coils. Cornelius was also an integral member of the team that developed HSM’s first adjustable power base program.
“In my 13 years with HSM, I have witnessed first-hand the evolution of the company into a cutting-edge, innovative powerhouse in the bedding industry,” Cornelius said. “In the last few years, HSM has invested in state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and established a dedicated mattress manufacturing facility – doubling its bedding manufacturing capacity to meet the rising demand for bedding products from consumers. It has been an honor to be part of the team that has helped position HSM for even greater success in the years ahead.”
Cornelius reflects on his career
Recalling the high points of his career, Cornelius said, “Perhaps one of my proudest achievements was the adjustable power bases program we created for Sealy, which achieved remarkable results at retail for a nearly five-year stretch. After that, I led HSM Bedding’s direct-to-retail program, Hickory at Home, and then became product manager of the company’s mattress components business. My time at HSM was the highlight of my career, and I am very proud of the results we achieved in all of those areas.”
“Niles has been a beloved member of our team and entire industry. There is not a part of our bedding division where he hasn’t made important contributions over the years,” said Tim Witherell, vice president and general manager of HS Manufacturing, LLC’s bedding business. “He has been a tremendous asset to our company. His willingness to share his extensive industry knowledge with our team was a tremendous asset and we’ll all certainly miss his positive attitude and infectious spirit. We wish Niles and his family the best as he transitions into his well-deserved retirement.”
Prior to his role with HSM, Cornelius served in a number of executive-level positions for the Therapedic International licensing group, including president, vice president of sales and minority partner, and chief operating office of Therapedic of Virginia, one of the company’s licensees. His career also includes sales positions with Sealy and its Stearns & Foster brand, and with International Bedding Corp., another Therapedic licensee. He began his career as a retail sales associate in a department store in Cincinnati.
Cornelius will retire to Bluefield, West Virginia, where he lives with his wife of 50 years, Jane; his four children; and his four grandchildren. He enjoys gardening and yardwork and is a voracious reader of history – in particular about his favorite topic, the Civil War.
HSM is a privately held company based in Hickory, North Carolina, with more than 25 manufacturing plants in 13 states. In addition to its core furniture and bedding markets, HSM serves a range of customers in the transportation, packaging, healthcare, apparel and other industries.