Spring Air’s Recipe For Success

By Gretchen Kast

Walking into the Spring Air showroom at the winter Las Vegas Market, it may have taken you a moment to realize where you were. The 9,000-plus-square-foot location is considerably bigger than the company’s previous location. The new showroom is a tangible demonstration of Spring Air’s rapid growth over the past few years. Today, the company offers a myriad of mattress options all along the price spectrum, offering relevant features and robust branding stories. But Spring Air’s product portfolio is not the only thing that has evolved; the company has also been steadily building its licensee network. With an organizational structure that prioritizes collaboration, support and attention to detail, Spring Air has leveraged the expert insights from across its network to drive meaningful product innovation—equipping its retail partners with more dynamic collections that resonate with today’s consumers. This approach has proven successful; Spring Air hit a 15-year company record in 2021 by bringing in over $118 million in sales. The company has no plans to slow down anytime soon. 

Following its record-breaking year, Spring Air has again set ambitious goals moving forward—and is confident that it has a solid plan in place for how to get there. “We want to provide an amazing product experience and an outstanding value, while taking care of customers big or small,” explains Nick Bates, president of Spring Air. “So whether you have one sleep shop or 2,500, we want to make sure you feel the same love.” 

The company is committed to upholding those standards even amidst supply chain disruption. Now, with new permanent strategies in place to keep warehouses stocked and lead times down, Spring Air has been able to focus on bolstering additional growth strategies for itself and its retail partners. From addressing the consumer demand for high-end bedding to implementing more sustainable practices and delivering a consistently well-rounded product assortment with strong margins, Spring Air is equipping retailers with the programs and support they need to compete in today’s market.

Luxury

When Spring Air first re-introduced the Chattam & Wells brand back in 2016, there was nothing quite like it in the market. From upholstery-grade fabrics to self-welted tape edges and a C&W emblem mimicking a luxury handbag, the collection delivered true luxury detailing for mass-market distribution. Taking care to think holistically about the luxury experience, the company delivers each mattress in an elegantly branded cloth bag.

Now, at a time when demand for premium bedding is higher than ever before, Spring Air is able to offer a proven solution in the category with a fully refreshed Chattam & Wells lineup. Not only has the company built up positive brand recognition over the past six years—it was able to use real world insights to refine the collection to best suit the needs and interests of today.

“We got to take a step back and see what actually mattered to the end consumer. What was important to the consumer and retail sales associate on this bed? Did the bag help them sell the bed? Was it the height, the price point, all of the tufting, or the eye-catching bronze label that elevates the aesthetic?”

Nick Bates
President of Spring Air

Spring Air took the time to dig into who the Chattam & Wells customer was and what they were looking for. As it began exploring a new look for the line-up, the company turned to current home fashions trends for inspiration—Restoration Hardware in particular, with the goal of visually connecting the collection to other high-end interior design. This led the team to the Chesterfield pattern, which can be found across a number of Restoration Hardware’s furniture options, including headboards and love seats. Spring Air incorporated the same upholstery fabric into the quilted borders of Chattam & Wells, helping to further position the collection as another elegant piece of furniture the consumer is investing in.

Sustainability

Luxury isn’t the only trend defining the bedding industry today. Today’s consumers are increasingly seeking out more sustainable options— and they have become even more discerning about where those products come from. 

Spring Air has incorporated more eco-friendly options into its product portfolio in a number of ways. The company uses spring units made from 93% recycled steel across all of its mattress collections. Additionally, its Nature’s Rest collection offers a wholly natural selling story. Constructed using all-natural Talalay latex cores and covers made from linen—a natural, biodegradable resource, mattresses in the Nature’s Rest collection offer conforming comfort and can also be easily recycled at the end of their lives. 

When it comes to sustainability, Spring Air’s efforts extend beyond its products. The company’s West Coast licensee, Pleasant Mattress, is the first U.S.-based manufacturer to receive the Sleep Products Sustainability Program (SP2) certification from the Mattress Recycling Council. This voluntary program was designed to empower mattress manufacturers to systemically reduce the negative environmental impacts of their operations and supply chain. Since starting the program, the facility has already verified a 10% reduction in energy used and waste generated. With this achievement as a catalyst, Spring Air is working to find the best ways to incorporate these practices throughout its wider network.

“It’s a path forward to embracing sustainability,” Bates explains. “Is it going to happen tomorrow? No. But when we look at our ten-year objectives, we are definitely working towards being more sustainable.”

Spring Air is preparing for a future where sustainability practices are the norm—and is working to help its licensees transition to more sustainable practices in ways that work for everyone. 

Mattress_Spring Air Nature's Choice

Approachable Comfort + Strong Margins 

Of course, not every consumer is in the market for a premium or specialty mattress. Many shoppers remain price-conscious—but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to buy just anything. That’s where Back Supporter comes in with one of the strongest names in the industry. Touted as Spring Air’s ‘bread and butter collection,’ Back Supporter is a solid, straight-forward offering consumers understand right away. With prices starting at $599, the new Back Supporter gives the retailer more pricing flexibility—while still securing the right margin.  

In order for a velocity-priced collection to stand out amongst all of the competition, it has to deliver the right look and the right value. With the goal of upping the collection’s curb appeal, Spring Air recently refreshed the line with more luxurious looking covers that immediately signal quality to the consumer. “Do we have to pay more for those fabrics? Definitely,” Bates says. “Do we think it’s worth it? Definitely.” 

Building New Products Together

Spring Air is doing things a little differently these days. The company moved away from a traditional product release schedule, opting instead to introduce new collections and program upgrades when it sees a true market need. This has helped Spring Air bolster its product portfolio in a way that feels measured and meaningful.

The company looks to a variety of different metrics to inform this decision making. Sales numbers and volume outputs play a key role, but it’s the feedback from people all along the production and sales process that really shapes the strategy. 

“This isn’t a place where we just develop a product, give it to our licensees and they have to sell it,” says Bates. “We spend a year to 18 months developing products, listening to feedback, working with licensees and asking what can we do better?”

This not only helps the company “perfect the recipe” of each collection, he explains—it means that all of its licensees have a sense of ownership over the products they’re making. This has transformed the licensee network into a “family of facilities” that all work together towards common goals.

“There’s not one ounce of private equity in Spring Air today. Every single piece is privately held, whether it’s a factory or Spring Air International,” explains Bates. “One of the benefits of being a group of privately-held companies is that our owners are able to go into their factories and talk to their people who have worked there for many years and find out where their pain points are, so they can find ways to make their jobs easier and more efficient.”

With this mindset, the company is able to evaluate the whole process from start to finish, getting an idea of what the pain points are at every level—from the sales reps to the buyers to the retail owners and the RSAs. When you look at things comprehensively like that, it’s easier to spot synergies, Bates explains. And, from there, the Spring Air team can identify the most relevant products and begin to shape their ideas of how to change or upgrade them to better support their needs. 

“One of the benefits of being a group of privately-held companies is that our owners are able to go into their factories and talk to their people who have worked there for many years and find out where their pain points are, so they can find ways to make their jobs easier and more efficient.”

Nick Bates
President of Spring Air

Take Chattam & Wells as an example. In addition to freshening the look of the collection, Spring Air also updated the interior construction as well—replacing the double foam encasements with single foam encasements and a nested coil unit. This design delivers the same comfort feels and a higher coil-count while simplifying the process of building the bed on the factory floor. Not only does this upgrade enhance the company’s quality control capabilities, it also allows for greater efficiencies in manufacturing—helping Spring Air to continue to grow the brand. Retailers can feel confident that they are selling a collection that feels great and will be available when they need it.

What makes this product development process so effective is, in part, that Spring Air has been strategic about the network of licensees it has put together. In addition to creating a more relevant mattress collection and more efficient production processes, this approach has helped Spring Air retain its employees—something that has been a major difficulty for a lot of other bedding manufacturers over the past year. 

Growing The Family Of Facilities 

This has been front of mind as the company set out to expand its licensee network. Today, Spring Air includes 11 licensees across the US. But even as the company’s network has broadened, it has taken care to retain the small business mentality that has been so integral to its growth.

“We wanted to grow our licensee base with strong facilities that share the same principles as our core pillars. The culture of our company isn’t something we’re going to compromise for any amount of money. We want to make sure that you fit our culture, that you have the same vision.” 

Nick Bates
President of Spring Air

“We wanted to grow our licensee base with strong facilities that share the same principles as our core pillars,” says Bates. “The culture of our company isn’t something we’re going to compromise for any amount of money. We want to make sure that you fit our culture, that you have the same vision.”

As such, Spring Air has been able to retain its small business sensibilities while still benefiting from the increased capabilities and resources of a larger corporation. This positioning allows the company to be more nimble and ensures that it can provide personalized support. “Today, if one of our retailers or consumers has a problem, they know exactly who to call,” Bates says. “They’re going to get a person on the phone and we’re going to fix it.” 

Looking ahead, Spring Air isn’t chasing short-term gains—it is building a durable strategy that will propel it and its partners into the future. “We’re not that little ‘Spring Air Company That Could’ anymore,” Bates explains. “We’re chewing up sales, chewing up retail slots. There’s no end in sight for us; we’re just going to keep growing and growing and growing.” 

This article was featured in the Spring 2022 issue of Sleep Retailer.