SSA to Host Panel to Discuss Growing Specialty Sleep Category

The Specialty Sleep Association (SSA), along with organizers at the Las Vegas Market, will host a panel discussion on the topic of how to create and manage a successful and profitable specialty sleep program at retail. The free event, open to market attendees, is scheduled for Wednesday August 1 at 11 am in building C, space 344.

An expert panel will share insider tips for successfully launching and managing one of the fastest growing product categories for bedding dealers today. Representatives from the SSA’s retailer and manufacturing membership will review successful ideas and strategies for developing the right product mix, pricing, marketing, and RSA training, to improve sales and profits.

”Recent statistics from ISPA and reports in Furniture Today indicate that 2011 specialty sleep mattress units jumped by 24.3 percent, with dollars growing to 29.4 percent from 25.2 percent in the prior year,” said Dale Read, president of the Specialty Sleep Association, a long-time advocate for the specialty sleep category. “This is a hot growth category that both furniture dealers and bedding specialists want to be in on. Our seminar will arm retailers with hands-on, how-to information, based on the collective experience from a diverse panel of speakers.”

The panel includes:

George Topping, VP of Merchandising, Innovative Mattress Solutions
Topping is a 20-year industry veteran with both retail and wholesale experience. As a former VP at Serta International, he created Serta University and The Serta Selling System. He has created training programs for Sears, JC Penny, and Levitz, as well as other industry education vehicles. His combined BBA in Economics and Finance from Marshall University, along with expertise in developing models for market analysis, qualifies Topping to consult retailers across the U.S. Innovative Mattress Solutions (iMS) is the service provider for a 150-store sleep shop chain.

Jeff Klein, President, Sleep, etc.
Klein grew up in bedding retail as his family opened their first Kleinsleep mattress store in New York in 1949. He was an early adaptor of European luxury beds and one of the first US retailers to offer Hastens beds. Success with these products has led to a strategic distribution arrangement with Carpe Diem Beds of Sweden. Along with testing unconventional merchandising strategies, Klein attributes success to both customer and employee relations. His mottos include “exceeding customer expectations” and “honest business practices.”

Michael Nermon, President and CEO, Ergo Customized Comfort
Nermon founded Ergo Customized Comfort after developing and manufacturing Power Bed technologies at Maxwell and Leggett & Platt for over 20 years. After working with bedding companies in 33 countries, he has applied this extensive experience to the retail environment. Ergo’s unique, upscale approach has earned industry recognition. After receiving Specialty Sleep Retailer of the Year honors in two consecutive years, Ergo was presented with the inaugural Retail Giants of Bedding award by Furniture Today in 2006. Nermon’s exposure within the manufacturing and retail channels has given him unique insight into the benefits and advantages of advanced sleep products. He believes that higher standards and transparency are keys to success when marketing specialty sleep bedding products.

Dave Chandler, Director of Marketing, Innomax
Chandler has been focused on innovation in sleep products for over three decades, including years concentrated in the categories of flotation support, digital air, and memory cell technology. Chandler retains an in-depth understanding of sleep issues and the effects of proper sleep on the human body. He has been an active member of the SSA since 1991, and his unique perspective on the science of sleep and the technical development of sleep systems focused on sleep quality has helped many retailers and wholesalers expand their market share through effective product training, sales techniques, and marketing strategies.

Scott Smalling, Chief of Specialty Innovation, Simmons
Smalling hails from a long line of foam manufacturing innovators that led him to create the ComforPedic specialty bedding line in 2003, one of the most successful specialty sleep product lines of all time. In 2007, he sold ComforPedic to Simmons, where he now serves to expand opportunities in the memory foam category with an emphasis on improved airflow, heat dissipation, temperature control, and faster recovery time. He works closely with Simmons dealers across the country to promote the brand and its core values of performance and innovation. From his roots at IR Specialty Foams to his current position, Smalling is an ardent supporter of specialty sleep products and their value to the savvy retailer.

Seating for the event is available on a first come, first served basis.

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About Specialty Sleep Association (SSA): Founded in 1995, SSA is a national, not-for-profit organization created to facilitate the growth and positive awareness of the specialty sleep category. Its members develop or sell specialty sleep products including natural/bio-based and organic bedding, latex, memory foam, air, gel, water, adjustable, new spring technologies and related products. SSA membership includes more than 100 manufacturers and retailers ranging from small, family-owned businesses to large corporations.