Although Eclipse traces its roots as a mattress brand back to 1905, it had all but disappeared from the marketplace by 1999 when Stuart Carlitz and Gerald Gershaw, the owners of a successful New Jersey mattress factory, decided it was time to revive it.
Their acquisition didn’t attract much attention at the time because the Eclipse brand, once a powerhouse line that was sold nationwide, had fallen on hard times. But on the deal’s 20th anniversary, the modern-era Eclipse brand has a dramatically higher profile, thanks to a network of 17 domestic and 60 international licensees today’s owners have put in place.
“We knew it had a lot of potential, but when we had our grand opening in 1999 to let the industry know we were going to start licensing the brand, none of us imagined how quickly it would gain acceptance,” said Carlitz, who is now president and chief executive officer of Eclipse International. “And there’s still plenty of room to grow in the next 20 years.”
Carlitz now occupies a 125,000 square-foot factory in North Brunswick, New Jersey, that is known corporately as Bedding Industries of America (BIA). Today, the BIA plant is the largest licensee of Eclipse International, and produces several other bedding brands in addition to Eclipse, including Therapedic, Eastman House, Ernest Hemingway and Saatva, a major luxury e-commerce line.
“It gives retailers a way to compete with the large national brands and their big advertising budgets,” Carlitz said of the Eclipse brand. “It’s not sold on every street corner, and dealers can count on good margins. And our licensees are backed with great product development and logistics teams, which allows us to deliver top-quality sleep sets on time.”
Carlitz got his start in the bedding business working summers in a Serta factory in Pennsauken, New Jersey, when he was a high school student in the mid-1970s. In the early 1980s, he became a sales representative for the Gershaw, who founded Therapedic International. A few years later, Carlitz opened his own factory in the Philadelphia area, and in 1994, merged it with Gershaw’s business.
“That combination enabled us to be in a position to acquire Eclipse and bring it back to its former glory,” Carlitz said. “That brand has since become the cornerstone of our licensing business, and allowed us to make other acquisitions, notably the Eastman House brand.”
About Eclipse International: North Brunswick, New Jersey-based Eclipse International has been making mattresses since 1866. Known for its design innovation in creating advanced sleep products, the company has an extensive global licensing network that distributes mattresses under seven brands – Eclipse, Eastman House, Van Vorst, Ernest Hemingway, Pure Talalay Bliss, Velika and BIA. A well-established leader in the bedding industry, Eclipse designs products crafted with high quality components, including latex, memory foam, gel and eco-friendly materials. The company holds a number of patents that deliver superb support throughout the product line. Today, the company has 77 licensees worldwide.