SSA From 1995 To Today – A History

Advocating For Specialty Sleep Products and Companies
     Friant, CA – Today’s Specialty Sleep Association (SSA) is an organization that has evolved over the past twenty-two years out of three industry associations: the former Waterbed Manufacturers, the former Waterbed Retailers and some former members of the Futon Association International (FAI). In 1995 with the precipitous decline of waterbed sales and the expansion of new, innovative specialty sleep categories including airbeds, latex rubber beds, memory foam beds, futons, natural and all-natural beds and some gel bed applications, the manufacturers and retailers pulled together to create what today is the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA). Historically the various independent SSA trade shows and/or showrooms within larger furniture markets such as High Point or the Las Vegas World Market Center have served as the nexus or energy center for the SSA.
     When the SSA was launched in 1995, the association and trade show were managed by an association management group and held their first show in New Jersey. The following year the show went to Scottsdale, AZ at the same time that the Futon Association held their show a few miles away in Phoenix. The SSA Board members realized that many of the mom and pop, and some larger, chain specialty sleep shops were also futon shops, so it began to make sense to downsize their management overhead and co-locate the SSA Show in the same city and time as the Futon Association (FAI) Expo.   Then in 1998 SSA President Carla Williams met with FAI Trade Show Director Tambra Jones (who is now the SSA Executive Director) to discuss the SSA joining in with the Futon Expo.  A plan was presented to both the SSA and FAI Boards to have the FAI include the SSA exhibitors in their show, under Jones’ direction.  An agreement was signed, and the “Futon and Specialty Sleep Expo” was born.  The FAI had held its annual trade show in a different city each year, but agreed to the SSA’s request that the new combined show be held on alternating years between Las Vegas and other East Coast or Midwest venues.  (Even back then the SSA believed Las Vegas was the best place for their trade show.) The first combined show was in 1999 in Las Vegas at Cashman Field.  It was a resounding success.
     The SSA as we know it today, really began with the opening year of the Las Vegas World Market Center.  In 2005, the Futon Association changed it’s infrastructure, Jones became the Executive Director for the SSA, and the SSA and the FAI separated into their own independent sections in the first pavilions (tents) available on the World Market Center campus. SSA operated out of the tents until 2008 when Executive Director Jones and the SSA Board negotiated a permanent showroom deal in the new Building C on the 13th floor, and later moved up to the 15th floor to become a key part of a mattress and bedding “go-to” destination. (The Futon Association also leased a permanent showroom in 2008, but subsequently lost the showroom and folded the association).  Since moving into the permanent show location, the SSA has typically served as a host for approximately 30 manufacturers or suppliers exhibiting for mattress, bedding and home-furnishings retailers attending the Las Vegas market. According to Jones, who scans buyer groups entering the SSA Showroom, there are between 400 and 500 different buying influences or retail organizations, and hundreds more manufacturers and suppliers who visit the SSA Showroom each market. Although only one member of each group is scanned, the groups vary from one person to as many as eight people from a single store or organization – so the “people count” is much higher than that.
     The SSA showroom has served so many in the industry, however most people don’t realize the history or impact this showroom has had on the mattress and bedding industry. “Often people in our industry simply just do not fully appreciate the critical role the SSA Showroom has played for retailers, manufacturers and suppliers for a number of decades. We put supreme emphasis on what we present in our showroom. There is a lot of hard work involved in sustaining and managing this show, and we depend upon and are proud of the support from our members,” says Dale Read, President of the SSA.  

Fond Memories and Real Changes
     Over the years, the SSA has played a vital role in the personal and business lives of active participants in the association and its twice-a-year trade show. We talked with Denny Boyd former SSA President and owner of Boyd Sleep who shared some of his strongest and most meaningful memories. When asked if he recalled meeting somebody significant in his life, Boyd replied, “Yes, I met Carla Williams (now Carla Boyd) …the love of my life.” Denny and Carla (who was with Blue Magic back then) worked together on the SSA Board.  They actually met with Reed Business Publishing to suggest a permanent spot in Las Vegas for a trade show, where the SSA could be part of the organization to create and manage the show. Boyd shared, “Believe it or not they did not believe that Vegas would be successful.” When asked to name some of the historical founders or significant people in those early days of specialty sleep, Boyd mentioned Linda Lauer, Natalie Davis, Tony Bova, Michael Gerharty, Tim and Tom Young, Barry Ross, and Roanne and Tom Barron. When asked how the SSA changed the mattress / bedding industry Boyd opined, “The SSA (trade show) has been an incubator for many small and innovative companies offering a platform to show their products and to help them access the worldwide bedding industry and the retail market. "When asked if there are any real lessons to be learned from the SSA history, Boyd summed it up, “Change is constant. We need to stay ahead of it. We all need to innovate and market our products well.”
     Carla Williams Boyd, owner of Sleep 2000, and President of the SSA prior to Denny, shared that her favorite memory was when the SSA hosted an amazing celebratory party at Pure Night Club in Las Vegas featuring the Pussy Cat Dolls. There was a huge turn out of SSA members, and Furniture Today Executive Editor Dave Perry attended as well.  Carla remembers, “It lasted until 4 AM - we all danced, drank and got a little out of hand”.  Carla also remembered the gathering and parties hosted by Blue Magic during the SSA trade shows, and in particular the SSA Show at the Sands in Las Vegas  where they set up a Café’ on the show floor complete with Creole food and called it “The Blues Café”. She mentioned an old SSA favorite, the show held in a resort in Scottsdale, AZ on the resort tennis court.  Carla called to mind two early giants of the specialty sleep industry: Blake Bell of Springs and Ron Larson of Land & Sky.
     Scott Smalling, who founded ComforPedic® and now is Founder of the charity Relief Bed International, told us “The SSA provided me with a unique and strategic perspective on the specialty market. Mostly it served as another important piece of the puzzle that helped me sell my brand ‘ComforPedic.’”   He said further, “The Specialty Sleep Association is the only platform for new specialty brands and unique technologies. It allows these companies to have a voice in the sleep industry. The showroom is a ‘Must-See’. If larger brands do not visit the showroom at market they run the risk of missing out on unique technology for their products or getting an early look at a newcomer.”

The Real Impact of the SSA
     Read points out that the present Mission and Vision of the SSA are respectively: “To serve sleep innovators, both manufacturing and retail, by promoting members, product transparency, and education,” and “to be a trusted authority for consumers on product transparency and education for specialty sleep products.”  Read explains that the SSA retailer-focused showroom is a central element for fulfilling their goal to present retail stores with the features and benefits of specialty sleep products. “The SSA has been an advocate for innovation and technology in sleep products for the sleep retailer for decades now. The SSA showroom is what gives us our primary platform,” says Read. Tambra Jones explains that the SSA Showroom has been an incubator or “retail-focused launch pad” for some of the biggest brand-names in mattresses and bedding. “If you walk around the market you will see large showrooms with widely recognized brand-names who started with us either at one of our regional shows (including our independent Las Vegas shows), or who were with us out in the tents, or have been with us in our showroom now at the World Market Center,” says Jones.
     Jones went back to 1999 looking at early combined SSA/ FAI regional and Las Vegas shows and tracked tenants right up to the 2017 Las Vegas markets. “It might surprise people to know that some well-recognized mattress and bedding companies such as TempurPedic, King Koil Northeast (Blue Bell), Carpenter, Boyd Specialty Sleep, Comfortaire (now part of Sleep Number), Eclipse/ Eastman House, South Bay, PureCare /Fabrictech, Protect-A-Bed, Dreamfit, Magniflex, Blue Sleep Products, Glideaway, XSensor Tech (and a long list of companies who are not as recognizable) started in show exhibits with the SSA.  These are just some of the many exhibitors we have helped launch and grow from our showroom floor.”
     “Serving as the host and chief brand incubator is only one of the roles the SSA plays”, explains SSA president Read.  Read lists a number of conversations, events and happening that have occurred as a result of SSA involvement. “Just at the recent winter 2017 Las Vegas market, we helped a key SSA member find, interview and then hire a new national sales manager. We helped an emerging ergo-focused mattress brand to meet, and then network with four possible mattress components and technology suppliers. Another time we helped a prospective international member offering a niche technology to meet with numerous mattress and bedding manufacturers. We worked closely with an international inspection and certifying organization to publicly announce a new global standard. We assist our members by writing and distributing press releases for SSA members working closely with eight key trade journal editors. We strive to offer a powerful speaking program for retailers having featured a variety of different educational topics over the past five years.”
     Read offers two important examples of the vital role the SSA showroom and the association have played. About five years ago, a highly recognized top executive of the then Number Two mattress brand in the US came into the showroom and met with an emerging gel bed technology provider. That meeting was a first meeting of the two companies. Read says they met for at least half an hour. He does not know what happened immediately after that, but within a year that mattress company launched a major new gel bed and gel swirl mattress line that helped grow the mattress brand to Number One. A second story: An entrepreneurial pillow designer had a ten-foot booth in the showroom, where she introduced a whole new design and comfort level in pillows. A fast-growing top-of-bed company met that person in the SSA showroom. After a series of conversations, the top-of-bed company bought the pillow brand and together they did a major successful launch of this new pillow design bringing real performance, quality and comfort to the marketplace.
     “We really do not talk enough about our education mission and our desire to bring the newest and most cutting-edge ideas to retailers,” says Read.   Jones agrees, “The SSA regularly sponsors workshops and panels at the Las Vegas Market to bring important information to retailers, manufacturers and really, the Sleep Industry at large.  I remember the FTC representative filled the room when we brought him to Market for a presentation which put a spotlight on the importance of correct product labeling and encouraged truth in marketing.” 
     The SSA continues with its Mission – striving to showcase innovative products, bring pertinent information to retailers and manufacturers, and promote marketing transparency.   The BEDFAX® Verified Program, created by the SSA, is being developed as a tool for product transparency for mattresses, using a contents label that can be openly verified.  Says Jones, “This is a program for manufacturers who are truthful in their marketing claims, and want to verify them publicly for their retail stores.  The idea – in the end – is to help sell more beds.   Our goal is to help the manufacturers provide the retail sales associate with a clean tool to use in their sales presentations.”    Barry Cik, President of Naturepedic Organic is beginning to use the Bedfax® Program in retail stores who carry his mattresses.  Barry says, “We devote a tremendous amount of effort and resources to certify our products with the kinds of organizations who value organic and sustainable components.  The Bedfax Program fits right in with our company’s marketing transparency mission and we are excited to begin using it to full capacity.“            
Anyone interested in the BEDFAX® Program is encouraged to visit the Program website:  www.bedfax.org.
     Jones wraps up, “The SSA is a small but committed organization.   We are proud of our 13,000 square-for showroom and continue to work to improve the experience people have there.“ Read agrees, “Starting with additional glass doors for better visibility, new clean dividers, dedicated WiFi in the room, coffee for our members, and a renewed effort to reach retailers including powerful retailer information programs and speakers, the SSA is committed to strengthening and supporting both third-party, independent retailers and serving as an advocate for emerging entrepreneurial manufacturers and suppliers.”

HEADS UP - Are you covered for what you think you are in a disaster?

The recent physical disasters have left some people (and businesses) in dire straits.  Hearing friends’ and family’s upsetting stories, reading about our contemporaries in neighboring states and/or countries, have all made us wonder if we are adequately prepared if disaster struck our own homes or businesses.  We have heard of complications getting insurance help as well as situations where policies had high deductibles and inadequate coverage for the kind of damage that ensued. 

We here at the SSA looked into this – and so should you.  SSA Directory Tambra Jones contacted her own State Farm agent to ask about her homeowners coverage – and how she could efficiently and effectively be paid for a future claim.   She also looked into a number of insurance sites for general information.  Check these sites for some general information:  http://www.kiplinger.com/article/insurance/T027-C000-S002-how-to-get-insurance-companies-to-pay-your-claims.html  andhttp://www.naic.org/documents/consumer_guide_home_quick.pdf

Based on her conversation with her agent, and what she learned online, Tambra makes these suggestions:

1.     Call your insurance agent and ask if you have a policy stipulating replacement value (they replace your $5000 leather sectional) or cash value (what you paid, less the depreciation for that sectional).  What coverage are you getting for the price you are paying?

2.     Make an inventory list of what is inside your home/business.  State Farm has an inventory list suggestion:  https://www.statefarm.com/insurance/home-and-property/homeowners/resources.  There will be specific requirements for reimbursement, (i.e.: should your inventory should include serial numbers and the year items were purchased…?).

3.     Look into a Personal Article Policy if you have valuable items (expensive jewelry, watches, clothing, electronics) in your home/business.  These policies will allow you to replace specifically insured items without a deductible – and these claims won’t affect your general claims rating with your carrier.  We learned, for example, that the cost for insuring a $2500 laptop is only $94 per year at State Farm, and that covers accidental damage and loss of the item – with no deductible. (So if this laptop is damaged at the airport while traveling, or stolen from your hotel room…you are covered – without record of a claim on your homeowners policy).

4.     Look carefully at the cost for coverage not included in your standard homeowners policy (earthquake and flood are main ones).  Sometimes the cost is only a few hundred dollars per year, and offers up to 85% coverage for damages (specific areas have specific costs – ask your agent about the options you have in your area).

We strongly encourage all of you to contact your insurance agents and get clear about what your policy does and does not cover.  If your don’t have your own agent, feel free to contact Tambra’s State Farm agent to get started with the information you need to protect your property.  Send Caresse Heitzman an email and let her know you are following up on the SSA News article – she will be happy to help you: caresse.heitzman.eyhs@statefarm.com

One Family’s Hurricane Harvey Story, as it Unfolds

SSA board member Dennis Rodgers (Forever Foundations in Irvine, CA) is very involved with family members who went through the Hurricane Harvey ordeal in the Houston area.  He provided us with an up-close-and-personal view of what happens to somebody experiencing this level of catastrophe.  This is what he told us in these weeks following Harvey:

“My brother, nephew, and ex sister-in-law all are or were underwater. My brother’s house was under 6-7 foot and will be 4-6 weeks before water recedes. He has been told that his house is totaled. My brother is 76 years old, and basically, overnight, homeless.  Neither he nor any of his neighbors have flood insurance since the area never had flooded.  He has already worked and met with his adjuster, a guy who my brother has known for 30 years.  His house cannot be repaired and will need to be completely torn down and rebuilt.  Everyday, they are continuing to clean, gut, remove, and dwell in the pit of destruction.  It's with them constantly.”

Rodgers initially told us, “My nephew will begin soon with the actual reconstruction (he has insurance, not sure of his deductible) and could be back living in his rebuilt, remodeled home in two months.  He's not sure if he will sell or rent out and move. Also, they know flooding in their neighborhood is a problem and that the cost of insurance is going to skyrocket.  But, all in all, he's in relatively good shape.”  However, the most recent update decreases the family’s optimism:  “My nephew is stuck, on hold because the insurance check he received thus far was for $6000 and his claim is exceeding $100,000.  He's not sure about when, or the amount of the next check.  He can't begin the reconstruction and is now on hold still living with relatives.”

The third family member affected also has a flood policy, however getting reimbursed for her damages is more complicated than she realized it would be.  “My ex-sister-in-law has insurance with $60,000 deductible, and has gutted and removed what she can.  Her insurance, since she lives in a condominium, is in conjunction with the other units.  Not sure how that works.  She says that in her case, she must list the losses, (not only of the house, but also the contents), prove the value and the purchase of the contents, and then the values are based on the age of the contents.  I guess the documentation is a nightmare, and takes months and months if not years to get settled and the check written.  My sister-in-law is probably going to do it herself, and forget the insurance.  She only had 2 inches of water but they still have to go up about 4 feet for repairs - which means all of the flooring, cabinets, furniture on the floor up to 4 feet, must be replaced.”

Says Rodgers, “The concept of insurance is fine, but the way it's implemented can actually cause many individuals and businesses to give up, close up.  I saw the former head of FEMA say in an interview on CNN that that on average, 40% of business damaged by flooding/hurricanes go out of business because they can not hold on for the time it takes to get their insurance check.”

Rodgers continues, “Since my brother had no flood insurance, he purchased a 25 foot RV trailer to park in the driveway while he decides his own future and that of the house.  For right now, he's fine.  He must shower with bottled water for the water system is contaminated and the sewage/treatment plants are not working yet, so he assumes the sewage is just being dumped into the Gulf/Rivers/Streams.  That issue will definitely take some time.  If you drink water from the tap, it must be sterilized first.  People are learning that the hard way.  There have been concern about vandalism, but being in Texas, it is not a problem at this point because people are armed (A) and (B) lots of police and guardsmen are patrolling the streets. He contacted the local constable (his buddy) and informed him that he's living in the trailer next to his house, so they are checking on him regularly and he has the constables cell number, plus he's armed.  All of these things you have to think about.  So right now my brother is living in the trailer with ‘all the comforts of home, including DISH’, but the nightmare of this existence is overwhelming.  He said that people are just slowly going through the motions of moving on, but are really not, because nothing is really happening.  Some people are moving into their second story with the bottom floor virtually wide open.”

Speaking to the plight of those without flood insurance, Rodgers explains that his family is hopeful.  “My brother had a FEMA government official come and visit him the Saturday after the storm and there is reason for some optimism in his case.  There is a federal program for those without insurance that helps those that are Veterans.   They did a complete exam of his house and will get the proposal sometime next week.  This program is different in that they don't write a check to the individual, they have bonded FEMA contractors from across the USA that come in and rebuild the houses.  He will not know all the details until he actually sees the proposal himself, timing, cost, etc.  My brother is a Viet Nam Vet, wounded several times, still has shrapnel. On his last mission his helicopter crashed and crushed vertebrae in his back.  He is classified by the military as 100% disabled. For the past 10-15 years he has had severe problem with his back.“

Rodgers finished his recount, “One other item, the local churches have been fantastic in helping, aiding, being there for the community and the individual.  My bother had a group from a Baptist Church out of Spring, TX where my nephew lives by coincidence, and spent three hours completing the gutting of my brother’s house, then went next door and so on.  He said they worked their butts off."  

He continued, "Also worth noting, churches have been denied for FEMA assistance to help rebuild (FEMA loan assistance).”

Thank you Dennis for sharing your family's story with us.  It certainly brings home the real challenges that people face in these circumstances.  We encourage everyone to contact their insurance agents to understand what is covered in their policies, and HOW it is covered.

Sleep Industry Opportunity to Help Disaster Victims

Hurricane Harvey Project needs Corporate Donations

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Relief Bed International, an SSA Member Company founded in 2015 with a goal to provide better sleep to victims of natural disasters and to humans challenged by homelessness, has a way we can donate to the Hurricane Harvey victims. We can trust our donation will really get to the people in need!
 
Harvey Matching Project
Through a generous donation from Bekaertdeslee Solutions (www.bekaertdeslee.com/en/solutions) Relief Bed is able to match up to 500 beds to their relief partners in the impact zone. "This partnership will address an immediate need in the area for sleeping surfaces" say founder Scott Smalling.  Relief Bed International is currently working with Food For The Hungry (www.fh.org) who are assisting Orphan Care Solutions  www.orphancaresolutions.com who are on the ground in Texas.  OCS is working hard with foster homes and group homes for the purpose of keeping siblings together. Smalling says, "Currently there is a significant risk of the state separating siblings based on the flooding damages to group homes and host homes."

To Donate go to  www.reliefbed.org or mail checks to PO Box 503 Tacoma, WA 98401. 

Thank You! Please contact Scott Smalling for more information about a corporate donation towards their Hurricane Harvey Project or to learn more about their overall Giving Program (to date they have donated and distributed over 7,000 beds through international relief agencies around the globe and to homeless shelters in the United States). 

Giving Program
Part of the vision for Relief Bed International was to create a turn-key vehicle to help suppliers, manufacturers and retailers in the sleep sector create a Giving component to their companies which not only motivates their customers to purchase it also creates long term brand loyalty.  Another reason to partner with Relief Bed International is that they work with you directly in your market unless you are choosing to fund a specific event like a natural disaster here or abroad.   Hence, when you fund beds through their giving program they help you find the perfect partner in your selling region so you can keep your donations local.  This is not only successful for your local brand, but also a great opportunity for your team to get out into the community they serve. 

Thank You - our industry has a big heart - together we can make a difference!

 

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Specialty Sleep Association Hosts 29 Exhibitors at Summer 2017 Las Vegas Market

Press Release June, 2017      Celebrating 12 years of continuous presence at the Las Vegas Furniture Market (and decades of annual trade shows before that), the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA)  once again hosts a room filled with different brands and manufacturers in Showroom 1565 of Building C at the World Market Center, July 30 – August3, 2017.  SSA Executive Director Tambra Jones confirmed that the SSA has once again sold-out all its exhibit space with 25 returning exhibitors and 5 brand new exhibitors reaching out to retailers at the Las Vegas show as members of the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA.) “We continue to serve as an advocate, a marketing platform for new companies, and support for expanding entrepreneurial companies,” says Jones.

The five new exhibitors include:  Cariloha, makers of what they call “the
Softest Bedding on the Planet”; iAdjust Sleep Products, makers of unique and distinct adjustable beds; Kymdan latex rubber mattresses and pillows; uKnead; makers of the ultimate luxury in Massage Chairs, and The Futon Shop will return with their bio-friendly futons and mattresses.

Cariloha invites retailers to “get ready to bring your customers a sleep experience that's comfier, cleaner and cooler than anything else on the planet” with the Las Vegas Market introduction of The Cariloha Bedding Suite. These new-to-the market products feature “Unique Viscose from Bamboo based memory foam” mattresses, specialty pillows, as well as duvets, sheets, and a fantastic fixture program to help retailers sell in the store.

iAdjust Sleep Products will offer three new introductions for this Vegas market. These include: The1Bed - the perfect adjustable firmness mattress with an adjustable wireless base built into the mattress engineered to work perfect on any flat surface (box spring, platform bed, or RV); the i-Rise Adjustable base features a 9 inch vertical lift making it much easier for anyone to get in and out of their bed at home; and the i-Organic Mattress by iAdjust is a layered system with a removable cover making it easy for the consumer to change the feel of their GOTS and GOLS certified organic mattress for years. iAdjust will have two business card drawings on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday for $500 each. To enter simply come by and drop off a business card.

 Kymdan will debut pure natural latex mattresses and pillows featuring a unique, proprietary processing and molding technology for USA retailers. These distinctive latex mattresses and pillows with Kymdan’s fifteen unique features, offer exquisite comfort, elasticity, and resilient body support. Kymdan’s mattresses have been certified by several globally recognized, prestigious organizations for product quality and safety.

The Futon Shop, (TFS) tell us they are a national leader in natural futons, mattresses, pillows and shikibutons, which are handcrafted in San Francisco from USDA organic cotton, GOTS certified organic wool, GOLS certified organic latex, organic buckwheat hulls and natural coconut coir. They invite retailers “to the place where organic meets comfort at an affordable price”. 

uKnead invites retailers to experience the ultimate luxury in uKnead Massage Chairs. The company will introduce their all new hybrid Lohas model at the market. The new Lohas has zero gravity positioning, slumber program, innovative body detection technology, full cocoon air enclosure, and of course, deep tissue therapeutic massage programs. Combining advanced massage robotics with unparalleled aesthetic design, the uKnead Lohas will be sure to take your breath away.

In addition to these five new exhibitors, Jones invites retailers to visit 25 returning companies and organizations featuring new, refined or expanded sleep products in the SSA Showroom. Some of these participants include:

Danican will be introducing new pillow and mattress protectors. Because they believe that the benefits of always using protectors for your pillow and mattress are significant and should therefore be visually tangible and pleasing to the eye, Danican has streamlined their graphics and switched up their packaging to create a more contemporary and fresh new look for the company’s two popular protector lines – Nature Protect® and SilverTECH Ag4X®. 

Electropedic will feature the company’s Body Sense, the world's first double laminated cooling protector.  It has advanced cooling technology and is waterproof.

ErgoLifeis creating an introductory push this market.  They will showcase three new products  delivering what they say is an “unmatched level of body alignment through a combination of box-springs, pocket‐springs, foams and inserts in the undersurface of each bed, that are all fully adjustable to meet each individual’s needs, weight and height.” 

Their new products include: ErgoLife Zero Stress, suitable for most individuals. The base comes fitted with dials, adjustable slats and fully upholstered in a range of colors. It provides adjustable shoulder, lumbar and hip zones for zero stress and can be fitted to most existing bed frames. The ErgoLife Active, for medium to heavy weight individuals, features double-sided Bonnel springs, soft shoulder, Euro Top comfort layer and a built in ergonomic support.  Finally, the ErgoLife Contour: for medium to lightweight individuals, featuring single or double-sided Pocket spring, extra thick Euro Top comfort layer and built in ergonomic support. Buyers can choose from Dunlop Deluxe or Enduro Foam, pure latex or gel infused memory foam inserts.

Lifestyle Covers:  Longtime show veteran Lifestyle Covers will be featuring their huge selection of new & exciting fashionable futon cover fabrics, and will offer show-exclusive sales.

Naturepedic will feature the  latest in GOTS and GOLS certified organic sleep products, including some new prototype luxury mattresses. The company will also have a broader focus on kids mattresses, headlined by the Verse, which features a roll-packed design for more convenient stocking and shipping. The company makes organic mattresses for adults and children as well as accessories such as waterproof pads, pillows, and sheets. All Naturepedic products are made without harmful chemicals for a healthier night’s sleep.

Noctova Sleep will be introducing their new Hybrid Innerspring program this market. 

Palmpring Organic Mattress will  return with their chemical free mattresses, pillows, and sectional sofas manufactured in Los Angeles, using certified organic latex and recycled coconut husk fiber sourced from India. They offer hypoallergenic, germ, insect and mold resistant products.

REMarkable Pillow will be introducing their “Extraordinary 10 buck Hotel Pillow”.  This 100% “Made in the USA” pillow has high quality shredded CertiPur Gel foam with a beautiful Designer Cover.  It is machine washable and dryable as well. 

Royrack Co is introducing new color choices this summer, so retailers can choose their own color of a Select-A-Mat mattress display system for retailers.  Another new option is an "assembly required" Select-A-Mat, that will give retailers new pricing options.  

Sleep & Beyond is a 3rd generation family owned manufacturer of organic and natural bedding who will be introducing their New myTravel Pillow, which is a 3-in-1 ultimate 100% natural and adjustable travel pillow filled with 100% washable pearl sized woolly puffs, and wool fill and covered in 100% natural cotton Sateen.  They will also feature their New myComforter light, which is filled with 100% washable wool and encased in 100% natural cotton sateen, and ideal for someone who is looking for an eco-friendly comforter and lives in a warmer region or their bedroom temperature cool. This comforter quickly wicks away moisture without making you feel cold and clammy. Finally, the company will feature their organic cotton sheet sets. From seed to shelf, this organic cotton is grown and processed free of pesticides, harmful dyes, and carcinogenic chemicals. It is certified organic according to Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the international stringent standard for organic textiles.

Smartwerks invites retailers to “Improve the key areas of your sleep store with Smartwerks cloud-based Point of Sale, Inventory, and Accounting solution. Process sales and deliveries faster, bring in more customers, and spend less on inventory. Using their extensive analytics tools, retailers will increase bottom-line profits by making smarter buying and selling decisions. Unlike many of the over-simplified products out there today, Smartwerks is “a fully-integrated, complete software package that is equipped to handle the specific needs of the sleep industry." 

The Supernal Sleep System, a division of US-based Transfer Master Products, Inc., is a company that provides what they say is the first holistic bedding solution for today's Baby Boomers, using proprietary technology. They offer an adjustable bed designed with special "state of the art" features, including a simple ergonomic, illuminated wireless hand control, wall hugging action, a European style "head tilt" to cradle the pillow, and the option to vertically elevate the bed up to 10 inches.  

Thomashilfen features German-engineered, patented technologies using the sleepers’ weight to personalize the comfort of each Thevo Bed. Either side of the European Split Queen or Split King sizes can be customized depending on the firmness preference and weight range of the sleeper. Consumers simply visit the company’s website, select their mattress size, preferred firmness rate, and reference Thomashilfen’s recommendation for their body type. Every component of the mattress is altered to fit each sleeper’s needs. Thomashilfen says their Thevo beds provide grade-A, restorative sleep for each sleeping partner. 

U.S. Sleep Products ™ will be introducing their new SwanZey ™ line of mattresses and Cooling Touch pillows. These new mattresses include latex, gel, memory foam, pocket coils, Italian fabric, and a beautiful bamboo cover. New memory foam cooling touch pillows are offered in both gel and ventilated holes, both with a cooling ice fiber washable cover.

W. Silver Products manufactures bed frames and adjustable beds at their family owned plant in Texas.  WSP offers retailers a complete line of bed frames and adjustable beds, with retail price points on adjustable beds ranging from $799 in queen up to $1,299.  All orders are shipped in 48 hours.

For more information on the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA)  Showroom C-1565, Membership, or on BEDFAX.org, contact Tambra Jones , SSA Executive Director at: ssadirector2013@gmail.com or Dale T. Read, President of the SSA at: daler@marketingarmgroup.com; www.sleepinformation.org  

SSA Sponsored free Retailer Workshop at Las Vegas Market - Summer 2017

As a further expression of the SSA’s commitment to independent mattress and bedding retailers, we sponsored a FREE Workshop at the Las Vegas Market on Tuesday afternoon, August 1st.  The room was nearly filled to capacity. Jeff Giagnocavo, Co-owner of Gardner’s Mattress & more in Lancaster, PA was the featured presenter. He zeroed in on key retailer concerns addressing “How Today’s Independent Retailers Can Achieve Success with High Impact , Low Budget Advertising and Marketing.”  At the end of the presentation, the SSA gave out a FREE special edition of Jeff’s book entitled; “77 High Impact, Low Budget Tip To Sell More Mattresses Easily.”

We hope this is just one example of the SSA reaching out to,  and supporting mattress and bedding retailers. It is our plan to do more programs of this or similar nature in the future with a focus on helping our retailer members.

Click here for the Presentation Slides offered at this workshop

SSA President Dale Read talks about “hybrid” beds

In early April, Executive Editor of Furniture Today David Perry wrote a most informative piece in the “Mattress Math” column entitled, “Four reasons why hybrid beds are sizzling at retail.” No need to repeat Dave’s report on median best–selling hybrid prices at specialty stores and furniture stores or the important role that hybrid bed sales have played in increasing retailer sales (if interested, we encourage you to read Dave’s column in Furniture Today.)  The point Dave makes is clear that sales of hybrid beds give retailers a needed boost in sales volume and price points.

With this point in mind, as someone steeped in Specialty Sleep, I’d like to suggest that hybrids are not adversarial to specialty sleep products, but rather are a compatible entity that makes use of BOTH the latest innerspring designs and technology, as well as the innovative materials and design features of specialty sleep products. Hybrids are not just traditional innersprings with a fancy name. They embrace both the newest in innerspring advancements and a whole variety of specialty sleep components including latex rubber; memory foam; highly-engineered polyurethane foams; European-influenced designs;  gel columns and gel foams; natural and organic materials;  adjustable and uniquely designed bed-bases, platforms and support systems; phase-change materials and a whole host of textile covers that offer the latest performance features. The hybrid market today is a melding or amalgamation of the traditional innerspring mattress technologies and the wide variety of special sleep innovations listed above.

To make my point, let’s turn the clock back to the early-to-mid 1990’s. Approximately 92% of all North American mattresses sold were traditional innerspring mattresses featuring three or four basic innerspring or coil designs (Marshall, LFK, continuous or encased coil) with a quilt or some kind of foam or cotton comfort layer.)  These were not a joining of two or more technologies, but basically innerspring beds with a topper layer and a ticking or cover. At that time an estimated 8% of the mattresses sold fell under the new specialty sleep umbrella including waterbeds, airbeds, latex rubber beds, Swedish foam (memory beds), all natural cotton, wool beds and a few gel column beds as well as various types of futons.  Many of these technologies and new bedding companies first appeared on the market at the then Specialty Sleep Association and Futon Association shows held around the country each spring(in Las Vegas every other year prior to the Las Vegas World Market Center.)  During the 1990’s and well into the 2000’s , the specialty sleep categories boomed. Memory foam, airbed and latex rubber sales grew like crazy.  Gel foam, phase-change materials, performance chemistry such as Celliant, and a whole variety of materials with natural, green or health and wellness features advanced both through the innovative companies, as well as process of acceptance, then advocacy by the largest mattress companies.  (The adoption of the memory foam and gel swirl technology by Serta comes to mind.)

At the same time, as the specialty category was exploding in sales, the traditional innerspring designers and marketers fully redesigned and updated their innerspring technology to offer a vast variety of innerspring choices for mattress models. They also had the wisdom to not simply market against specialty products, but to marry specialty features and benefits with their new high technology innerspring designs; and in doing so, they created the new category of the “hybrid” bed, offering consumers the advanced features and benefits of both mattress technologies. Consumers could receive both the resilient support and push back of springs, as well as the conforming and enveloping embrace of various foam and textile technologies.

The fact is this melding of innovations and technologies is by no means completed. At every show, we at the SSA have the fun and the privilege of seeing new entrepreneurs and innovators introduce such things as performance textiles, 3D-string fabric construction, new foams, European bed support systems, heating and coolant systems, healthier and safer, well as sustainable and “organic.” mattress and bedding solutions.

So more than anything else, we see the “hybrid” phenomenon as a catalyst and an opportunity to move forward encouraging our members to introduce new ideas and to expand existing platforms. As one observer said to me, the explosion of the next round of specialty sleep solutions to enhance consumers’ lives is right around the corner. It will depend upon the introduction and advancement of the newest idea (the next memory foam…). Could it be suspended silicon gel mattresses? Or how about air flow suspension? A new combination of springs and air? Who knows for sure? It will come at some point, and we at the SSA will be ready to host, advance and promote the next innovation in sleep

SSA 2017 Member Survey

We really do care about what you think as a member of the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA). Your opinions, suggestions and ideas are important to us. In order to help us understand you better, we sent out a questionnaire to 77 of our active members. We heard back from 31 out of the 77 members giving us a 40% survey response, which by the way is a very representative sample size, and gave us some valuable information.

Fifty-five percent of the respondents told us that they became and remain members because of the SSA Showroom opportunities.  Twenty-two percent said we offer them “general support” within the industry (such as sharing information and industry engagement), and 13 percent stated they like the networking opportunities offered by the SSA. A few mentioned that they were attracted to the SSA’s promotion of marketing “transparency”  (the Bedfax® Program.)

Ninety-three percent of the respondents said they would recommend the SSA to others, really citing the Las Vegas Showroom(this was universal whether a retailer, a supplier or a manufacturer), as well as networking, social and general member support by the SSA staff.

Although the majority responded that there was nothing they would change about the SSA, there were a few who would like to see more offered to retailers, and some would like some innovative marketing ideas for SSA Showroom buyer retention (keep them in the showroom longer.)  Some suggested ideas including more catered hospitality events or a traffic-building, social event.

When specifically asked what they liked the most, 39% of the respondents clearly stated the showroom.  Offering your SSA team a reason to smile, 42% of you cited the SSA Staff (Tambra, especially) as your favorite aspect of the SSA.

For those of you who raised such issues as post market follow-up, greater outreach and communication, more networking and involvement, know that we are planning to expand this newsletter over time, that we are building a stronger, more inviting website, that we are using Facebook and other social /new media more and more. Also we are planning to bring more relevant speakers to the market who can address current mattress / bedding “retail” issues.

The SSA Staff and the BoD thank all of you who participated in the SSA survey. We thank you for the support you have shown us, and we will look at each suggestion offered thoughtfully.

By the way, if you’ve made a suggestion or have a project in mind that will enhance the SSA, and you’d like to step forward as a volunteer / leader, please reach out to us.

We look forward to seeing you at the Summer Las Vegas market.

Stop in to see us as C-1565….       

Dale Read -  President, Specialty Sleep Association

SSA Showroom Sold-out for Winter 2017 Las Vegas Market

2 New Exhibitors as well as space expansion for returning companies.

Friant, CA – January 16, 2017 – With 28 different mattress, bedding and home furnishings manufacturers exhibiting in Showroom C-1565 at the Winter 2017 Las Vegas market, The Specialty Sleep Association ( SSA)   is sold out and once again drawing in a mix of retail stores and e-commerce buyers. The main story for the SSA is that longer term, veteran exhibitors have requested larger spaces within the showroom. As a result there are only two brand new exhibitors, Kayfoam Woolfson / Kaymed from Dublin, Ireland and Muller Textiles from Germany and Troy, Michigan. “A review of our past retail attendees’ database,” says Tambra Jones, SSA Executive Director “reveals that we draw in hundreds of retail buyers ranging from the biggest mattress and bedding retail shops to the single store mom and pop boutiques and furniture stores.  We are pleased to count hundreds of different buyers who come into our show space to see the new ideas, innovations and products offered by our SSA members who show in Las Vegas.” Jones explains that the energy can be electrifying in the showroom with different groups of buyers ranging from the smallest one person design firms and mom and pop stores to the very largest mattress/ bedding retailers in the business. “There is always something new, something different to draw in the buyers,” says Jones. “This market presents an extensive cross section of all types of innovations and technologies from various mattresses, support systems, foams, textiles, heating and cooling technologies as well as furniture, top-of-bed and foundation or under-the-bed accessories.  “There is always something new, unique, cutting-edge and different in our showroom.”

New exhibitor Kaymed, the Ireland-based mattress and foam producer is emerging as a leader in technologies that measure and fit consumers to sleep products. The company’s diagnostic systems feature patented science and use modern consumer devices, that are accurate and effective - yet easy for retailers to adopt.  Kaymed will showcase one diagnostic system for mattress recommendation and another for pillow recommendation. Both systems capture the relevant consumer body characteristics to enable an accurate selection and come with sister devices to measure the characteristics of products sold with the system. Kaymed is making it very easy and quick for retailers to bring their technologies onto their shop floors.

Kaymed believes now is the era of sleep diagnostics systems. Bricks and mortar retailers have to compete hard against digital merchants with even better retail experiences to provide consumers with compelling reasons to leave the couch and come in-store.  The systems are proven to increase sales performance and are now used in stores across Europe and Asia.

Muller Textiles, also a new exhibitor, is the global leader in 3-D spacer fabrics. The company is a 4th generation family-owned company based in Germany. Muller is  excited to launch the company’s  3Mesh™ brand of technical textiles to the US Home furnishings industry in the SSA Showroom at the World Market. Muller has built the 3Mesh™ product line on two primary platforms: Maximized Breathability and Optimized Pressure Distribution. As North American Sales Manager, Nate Cangemi, explains, “ One of our primary objectives for exhibiting in Las Vegas is to educate the market about spacer fabrics. Our 3Mesh™ product line is designed for in-bed application, both as support and comfort. We invite retailers and manufacturers to come see the next step in the evolution of mattress breathability at our space in the Specialty Sleep Association showroom, C-1565.

Four returning exhibitors have reported that they will be featuring new products:

Contour Products is an innovative leader in the consumer health, support and wellness category. Since the introduction of the company’s product in 1991, Contour has emerged as a worldwide distributor of solutions-based comfort & support products. At Las Vegas Market Winter 2017, Countour will be featuring the Mattress Genie Incline Sleep System; adjustable support and comfort for any mattress.

 Danican® will feature the company’s new 3D flo™ bedding program which features pillows, mattress toppers and a mattress. Mattresses sport hybrid construction of pocketed spring coils and memory foam core, encased in Danican’s specialized 3-dimensional 100% TENCEL®, 3D-string fabric construction to encase this entire new line of bedding. 3D flo™ mattress toppers are a 3” combination of top layer memory foam and a firmer bottom layer, all wrapped up in the same supple TENCEL® cover. The result is greater comfort for the sleeper  caused by increased weight distribution due to lowered pressure points on the body - AND increased ventilation during slumber. Pillows include the 3D flo™ ELECT and 3D floTM FLEX designs which cater to both the side sleeper and a flexible option for more flexible [side, back, and tummy] sleepers. All 3D flo™ items are trimmed in red, white & blue webbed piping for bold appeal on the sales floor. Due to popular demand, all Danican® mattresses are vacuum and roll packed for easy distribution and storage. 

Danican is also very upbeat about announcing a European contemporary showroom merger, for the first time showing for Germany’s IQ-Bed celebrating a 5-year anniversary for Scandinavian/American Danican®. These innovative products will be showcased in the SSA showroom. Danican® (mattresses/pillows) and IQ-Bed (beds/bed frames) are pairing up at this market to bring dealers the best product designs of this niche market - with all the European-quality retailers and their customers have come to expect. 

Thomashilfen, North America -   This January Thomashilfen will launch the company’s new Thevo Pillow. The versatile Thevo Pillow compliments the benefits of the Thevo Bed by providing further support to the head and neck. The three part uniquely designed Thevo Pillow can be inverted to create a two-part pillow, providing targeted support to the neck and vertebrae at the top of the spine, and giving anatomic support in every position. Also, just as with the Thevo Bed cover, the Thevo Pillow is fully washable. This scientifically designed and tested anatomic pillow is expected to retail at $34.99

This last year Thomashilfen expanded their brand with the launch of Thevo Bed Sleep System, a mattress-frame combination designed to improve overnight rejuvenation by stimulating the nerves in the spinal column for full-body recovery, alleviating aches and pain through MiS Micro-Stimulation®. The launch of Thevo Beds to the consumer industry was no surprise, as Thomashilfen’s German engineering is backed by 60 years of sleep studies, user reviews, and a history of innovation in the medical industry, the proven product is now available to the consumer. Thomashilfen achieved partnerships with several internationally acclaimed ecommerce retailers, and now Thevo Beds can be purchased through Sam’s Club (www.samsclub.com), Wayfair Canada (www.wayfair.ca), Houzz Marketplace (www.houzz.com).

W. Silver Products: Building upon the explosive growth of the adjustable bed category, W Silver Products will be expanding its comprehensive line of adjustable bed bases with key improvements and new product introductions. New models will be introduced in the company’s Silver Series line, and the company will also be updating their wireless remote controls in their Gold Series to a more modern remote design. W. Silver will also be introducing their new Stormer Folding Foundation.

For more information on the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA)  Showroom C-1565, or BEDFAX.org, contact

Tambra Jones , SSA Executive Director at: ssadirector2013@gmail.com

or

Dale T. Read, President of the SSA at: daler@marketingarmgrp.com

www.sleepinformation.org

www.BEDFAX.org

SSA attends important meeting in Washington D.C.

By Dale Read, SSA President

On October 20th 2016 three people informally representing the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA) attended a five hour Roundtable sponsored by the USDA-National Organic Program (NOP)  and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to Examine Consumer Perceptions of “Organic” claims for Non-Argicultural or Non-Food Products. Angela Owen, Chairman of the SSA and Owner of Suite Sleep, Dale “Sebastian” Luckwitz from SSA and OTA member company Naturepedic and Dale Read, President of the SSA attended the roundtable report on research conducted by the government agencies; and also, a research presentation on consumer perceptions and attitudes conducted by the Organic Trade Association (OTA).  The SSA is a member of the Organic Trade Association ( OTA) and attended the “consumer perception” research report session with other members and people associated with the OTA’s “Misleading Organic Claims Task Force” including people representing the Global Organic Textile Standard ( GOTS), Textile Exchange ( OCS-100), Control Union, Oregon Tilth, organic textile clothing manufacturers and several mattress and bedding manufacturers, as well as a number of key OTA staff members who have been advocating for a clear non-food “organic” claims definition at the federal level.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) participated in the roundtable along with experts from The Environmental Working Group, Consumer Reports, The University of Maryland, Texas State University, the FTC and USDA-NOP. A variety of government researchers, outside academic researchers and consumer advocates weighed-in on research findings and industry information concerning consumer perceptions and expectations regarding non-food products that make “organic” marketing claims. Noting that historically the USDA-NOP regulated “agricultural” crops at the farm or plantation level and processing and marketing of foods, but not non-food categories, the group discussed examples of blatant misuse of what might be expected to be an “organic” product, as well as existing non-government third-party standards for textile retail products such as mattresses and bedding.  The meeting also explored “Consumer Misperceptions and Organic Claims in the Marketplace…” as well as “Approaches to Improving Organic Claims…”

The Issue is Far from Resolved but there are Several Observations we can make:

•          The SSA is a strong advocate for transparency in marketing claims. The SSA’s BEDFAX® program is not a “green” program, but instead a contents label program advocating a 100% transparency for consumers regarding marketing claims. As a result, we are very interested in consumer education regarding mattress contents, and we are seeking to do away with “green washing” or any possible misleading or erroneous claims regarding mattresses and bedding. As a result of our vision and mission, our commitment embracing transparency and advocating consumer education, having unregulated and unclear non-food “organic” claims in the marketplace is a key concern for the SSA.  

 •         Mattresses and other “fiber or textile” based mattress, bedding and textile products are not the same as personal care products ( shampoos, deodorants, cosmetics, creams, lotions) or dry cleaning services. There is a very clear and well-established third-party international standard for both textile components and finished products in the form of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). More on this in a second. Because there already exists a widely recognized credible international standard for mattresses and bedding, we would strongly suggest that non-food organic rules and regulations for mattresses and bedding not be lumped in with personal care products, dry cleaning or other products not covered by such legitimate standards as GOTS and the Global Organic Latex Standard ( GOLS). Due to the unique situation that already exists, mattresses and bedding should be treated separately from personal care products and other non-textile related products.

•          While not the only standard dealing for “organic” textiles and textile related products such as mattresses and bedding , (there is also Textile Exchange’s (TE) OCS-100 for textile components tracking) and the Global OrganicLatex Standard (GOLS) for latex mattresses and pillows;  the Global Organic Standard  ( GOTS) is indeed the most widely recognized and, long standing international standard for finished “organic” mattresses and bedding. GOTS certifications for finished organic mattresses and bedding are achieved only after a rigorous inspection by credible professional national and international certifying agencies such as Control Union and Oregon Tilth.  GOTS also allows companies to market “ Made with Organic” claims based on a 70%-plus organic content, and it allows for certified components, which can be marketed correctly.

•          Environmentally and socially responsible and conscious manufacturers can also make a variety of “sustainable” or healthier and safer claims with such certifications as Rain Forest Alliance, GreenGuard, Oeko-Tex 100 if they choose a transparent marketing claims program that does not entail an “organic” claim.  However some consumers DO specifically look for “organic” mattresses, pillows, sheets, toppers; and for those consumers, the GOTS program is a well-established, third-party certified program recognized worldwide. It does entail specific set-asides and 70% or 95% bio-based, naturally organic materials requirements. These specifications and standards have been studied for years and resolved on a worldwide basis. While not a “pure” organic standard from some consumers’ perceived viewpoints, it is clearly a widely accepted and worldwide standard that allows for healthier, safer products that are harmful chemical and GMO-free product for the consumer.

This issue is far from resolved at this point with the USDA-NOP and the FTC.  The industry has until December 1st. to submit comments on the topic of correctly marketing claims for “organic mattresses and bedding.” Not all SSA members who are concerned about this issue see this in the exact same light. We share a common belief in “transparency and consumer education” regardless of which “organic standard” you embrace. We welcome your comments and thoughts on this issue.

 

SSA Representatives Angela Owen, Dale Read and Sebastian Luckwitz (2nd, 4th and 6th from left respectively)

SSA Representatives Angela Owen, Dale Read and Sebastian Luckwitz (2nd, 4th and 6th from left respectively)