Mattress king builds Rialto factory to meet ‘floodgate’ of demand in California – Daily News

on Jan7
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When the pandemic lockdowns sent Americans home to roost, millions of sagging mattresses were suddenly top of mind — and body.

It was an opportunity not lost on one of the country’s mattress kings, Stuart Carlitz, who just opened a manufacturing plant in Southern California.

“For two months, they laid in bed and watched TV and realized ‘this bed is terrible,’ Carlitz said, laughing, in a phone interview from New Jersey.

The CEO of Bedding Industries of America has seen mattress sales soar during the pandemic. “The floodgates opened,” the 40-year industry veteran said.

And something most of us wouldn’t have thought of 10 years ago became very easy: buying a luxury bed — queen, king or even cal-king — online. Internet sales, Carlitz said, have been rising for eight years, and the pandemic helped push them higher. Relative newcomers such as Casper, Nectar and Saatva were suddenly at the top of the online mattress pile.

Industry experts say overall mattress sales, a $17 billion business in the U.S., saw year-over-year increases of more than 30%.

Stuart Carlitz, the CEO of Bedding Industries of America, has seen mattress sales soar during the pandemic. “The floodgates opened,” he said. The meet rising demand he and partners have opened a mattress manufacturing hub and showroom in Rialto. (Courtesy of Bedding Industries of America)

Carlitz is the manufacturer behind the Internet-famous Saatva bed, a traditional innerspring mattress delivered by truck and not squished into a 4-foot box. He licenses Saatva and dozens of other brands to merchants across the U.S. and around the globe.

To meet a frenzy of buying in California, Carlitz and his business partners opened a mattress manufacturing facility in late 2021 in Rialto, a bustling distribution and manufacturing hub in San Bernardino County. The 90,000-square-foot facility is similar in size to Carlitz’s factory in New Jersey, where more than 1,000 mattresses are cranked out daily.

Carlitz spoke to us about building out his brands in California and offered some tips for mattress buyers.

Q: Tell us about mattress buying during the pandemic.

A: Number one, the brick and mortar stores were closed. Number two, the consumer was trapped in their home, nowhere to go. You know, for two months they laid in a bed and watched TV and they realized, you know what, it’s time to get a new bed.

And, and let’s also face it: The American government helped because they gave everyone money.

Q: How did you stay open during the lockdowns? Weren’t supplies impossible to get?

A: I was sitting in my bedroom, watching television, and the governor of New York asked if anyone making T-shirts could make masks. Everyone needed masks. And I was sitting there holding a mask in my hand, and I noticed the materials used in the mask were something I already used to make mattresses.

That was on a Friday, and by Monday, we were manufacturing masks. We were doing this to keep our factories open, helping people stay employed and to help the community. So, we never closed. We made masks and we made mattresses.

It wasn’t about being a Republican or Democrat. It was about being an American and helping out and helping everyone get through this crazy time.

Q: Why California and why now?

A: It’s one of our biggest markets. Our largest market is the Northeast. Our second-largest market is California.

Employees carry the inter-springs of a mattresses being assembled at Eclipse International, BIA West in Rialto on Thursday, January 6, 2022. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Q: Why open your own factory in California? Why not license someone to do the work?

A: The business is growing by such leaps and bounds that I just needed the right controls. California is growing like crazy. It’s even growing to outpace the Northeast.

Carlitz also noted that the boom for the Saatva bed has grown so much, he needed to get a facility closer to consumers, hence the Rialto facility. Instead of just pushing his mattress brands through local manufacturers, he partnered with local bed makers to ensure their quality and production met his expectations.

Saatva, he said, which has always been just Internet sales only, opened a “viewing room” in San Francisco and has another slated to open in Los Angeles by February.

Q: Would you buy a bed in a box?

A: Personally, I would not buy a bed in a box. And I make and sell memory foam beds!

First, you have to understand how those beds are made. You put it through a machine that compresses it and rolls it and puts a shrink wrap on it. And then it goes into a box. You’re destroying cells in the foam. Because foam is plastic and air.

So, (the bed in the box) is made of polyurethane foam — and not that there’s anything wrong with that. We monitor it very closely and make sure that it’s free from harmful chemicals and off-gassing. Many of the foam mattresses that are sold here are coming in from other countries that don’t have laws to protect you from dangerous chemicals.

Q: How many mattresses will the Rialto facility be making?

A: Now, I’d say we’re at maybe three (hundred) to 400 pieces a day. In New Jersey, we’re making 1,200 pieces on average per day, and I’m in the same size facility. Within a year, we’ll double our production in Rialto to 600 to 800 per day.

Mattresses made at Eclipse International, BIA West have a “Handmade in America” patch sewn on each one of them before they leave the factory in Rialto on Thursday, January 6, 2022. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

About Bedding Industries of America

Headquarters: North Brunswick, N.J.

BIA in 1999 acquired Eclipse International, its “cornerstone” brand.

The company holds 77 licenses for mattresses that use latex, memory foam, gel and eco-friendly materials.

The company recently opened a 90,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and showroom in Rialto. It will be a hub for mattress production for distribution across California.

The Rialto facility will make mattresses under the brands Eclipse, Saatva, Eastman House, Millbrook Beds, Natural Dreams Pure Talalay, among others.

About Stuart Carlitz

Background: President and CEO of Bedding Industries of America and the Eclipse International licensing group. He began his career with Therapedic Sleep Products Inc. in 1982.

Carlitz has some advice for mattress buyers:

–Make sure the manufacturer is reputable and has been around.

–Read the internet reviews

–If shopping in a store, don’t just lay on a mattress for 1 minute and jump to another one. Stay a bit. Compare the different products carefully.

–Don’t necessarily go with what the salesman is pitching

Quote: “To me, it’s not about the money. It’s about putting more people to work and putting more people to sleep.”

 

 

 



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