The past four months have been unlike anyone could have imagined. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country, normal business operations were upended. In some ways, the realities of the lock-down have pushed companies to become more agile than ever before. Across the bedding industry, leaders have been working tirelessly to motivate their teams, adapt their business operations and support their retail partners amidst unprecedented anxieties.
How has your company weathered the challenges of the pandemic?
EVP Chief Marketing Officer | Serta Simmons
One thing we felt was important to do was to immediately stake out a leadership position. Within less than three business days, we decided to step up and make a very significant donation of relief beds to New York City. As a sleep company, providing someone a place to sleep, especially those in need who might be homeless or all the hospital overflow—it felt perfect with our mission as a company . . . To be able to get into the hospital relief bed business, which we were not in, we had to design a product. We had to secure materials from around the world. Then we had to figure out, with a much smaller manufacturing footprint, were we going to ship them? Where were we going to produce them? It was truly difficult and truly inspiring because the team just came together and functioned better than I’ve ever seen. In fact, we decided to take that and use that as a blueprint for agile teams so that, when we get to a more normal state of business, we feel like that’s maybe a better way in general to run projects in our company.
President | Pleasant Mattress
When we look back, there’s a few key terms that have been hallmarks during this time. At first, we were just in react mode. We moved quickly from react to communicate, to persevere and then to plan. We developed a number of contingency plans within a few days: what happens if we can’t operate at all? What happens if we can operate on minimum staff? Just having those plans written out helped us face that challenge. It became quickly apparent that our customers needed to hear from me personally; they needed to hear where we were and what was going on. So we’ve had those consistent messages going out to our customers and our employees—and I think it’s made all the difference.
Chief Of Operations | South Bay International
I’m somebody that always plans for the worst case scenario, good bad or indifferent. So the big joke around here was that I have been preparing my entire adult life for this . . . We had a big growth last year, and we were already starting this year on that same trajectory. I had to take a step back and say ‘OK. How do I manage the business and continue to fulfill orders, while making sure the employees felt comfortable?” . . . We just do it one day at a time. We’re grateful at the end of everyday if we can feel like we’ve done right by the employees, by our customers, by what’s being asked of us from the local government—then it was a good day.
President | Gold Bond Mattress
One of our specialties is making mattresses for hospitals and nursing homes that have fluid-proof, antimicrobial covers. Because of that, we’ve been able to fill the needs of the state of Connecticut to deal with this horrific crisis. There were very specific deadlines for these mattresses. The dollar unit selling price of the product is a fraction of what our normal line would be and we’re doing about 60% of the business we would normally do—so the motivation is survival. We just wanted to ensure that the employees got hours, that we’re able to keep our door open. It wasn’t easy, but keeping us motivated is keeping an 120-year old family business alive and ensuring that our employees were able to feed their children.
Chief Marketing Officer | Reverie
I think encouragement and grace are really important right now. We have to give each other and ourselves a bit of grace. So things that normally would make me, with a type A personality, frustrated, I’m really trying to let go of . . . As the next phase starts to roll out where there is a loosening of some of the restrictions and retail stores start to open up again, I think we all have to be understanding and empathetic. At Reverie, our goal is to support in every way possible our retail partners and team members and making sure we’re prioritizing health and safety and wellbeing, but also really understanding the changing needs as they progress over time.
President | King Koil
When this first happened, I made the decision to think about the future and not really worry about the past or the problem that’s really out of my control. I spent a lot of time strategizing, figuring out the next immediate and long-term steps because my belief was that if we went into a panic mode and I spent all my time worrying about how I can save every nickel, we won’t come out of this in the way I felt we need to come out of this. I wanted to be able to be nimble and, when business opens up, catapult on it quickly. We have some very aggressive plans for our retail partners.
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