If you'd like to know a lot about the mattress industry, this is for you. Even if you don't do business with Richmond Bedding use this information to your advantage no matter where you shop.
If you do NOTHING else, make sure you watch the videos in the third section.
This is where it gets interesting. Did you know that there are only two innerspring manufacturers in the United States, and one of those companies has an overwhelming market share? Leggett & Platt is a four-billion dollar a year corporation that manufactures more innersprings than any other company in the US. Sealy, Simmons, Serta, Sterns & Foster don’t own steel plants nor do they “turn” their own springs. What they do, as well as any other mattress company you can think to name, is use innersprings from Leggett & Platt. Our Factory uses the same innerspring units.
What about foams and padding? Another company you may have heard about, as they have been based in Richmond since 1957, is Carpenter Company. They are an International Company and the world’s largest manufacturer of cushioning products for the bedding and upholstery industries. Once again, all the big name mattresses use their foam and cushioning products. We use them also.
You might ask: What about memory foam like in the Tempur-Pedic beds? Just do a Google search for “Memory Foam Products” and have a few hours on your hands. Their foam is nothing special, but they don’t want you to know that. Visco-Elastic Memory Foam is available from several sources in various weights.
The bottom line is this: No matter the brand label, marketing hype, salesperson’s story, fancy store or high prices….all manufacturers use the same suppliers. Simply put no one makes a mattress, they assemble them from supplied products. And the list of suppliers is a whole lot shorter than you might imagine.
As for construction techniques, the manufacturing process is the same in every factory. They all buy the same assembly machines from the same suppliers. All they really do is customize the outer quilted fabric from brand to brand and model to model. Some have a little more of this foam and a little less of that foam so they are different and special, or so they can be marketed as such.
All this should cause you to ask yourself a question. Why should I pay more for the same materials and construction techniques just because the higher priced mattress has a label with a name I’ve seen advertised on TV? You shouldn’t, unless you feel an overwhelming obligation to help them with those advertising costs!
A warning about Foam Encased Mattresses: This is promoted as a feature that expands the sleep surface and firms the edge of a mattress. If you sit on the edge of your mattress when you wake in the morning to put on your shoes, this firm sitting edge will soften and turn into a soft sitting edge also changing the sleep surface at the edge! The real reason for foam encasement is that it saves the manufacturer lots of money. Plastic foam is much less expensive than spring steel. Foam encasing a mattress reduces the amount of spring steel used by eighteen percent. Then it gives the manufacturer a marketing ploy to promote their mattresses and to convince the customer to pay more money for the extra feature.
The NO-FLIP mattress fad has proven to be a success for manufacturers, and an outright failure in the eyes of the consumer. Simmons first introduced the one sided No-Flip Design in 2000. Simmons claimed that their new mattress was not only an improvement, but was also a more maintenance free mattress compared to its two-sided predecessors. Not to be out done Spring Air introduced The NeverTurn™ Mattress. Many other mattress manufacturers followed their lead with single sided beds and maintenance free ad campaigns such as Sealy and Serta. Life expectancy of a mattress has dropped from between 12-15 years, down to 5-7 years. The era of disposable mattresses has to end. In a world that needs to focus more on renewability, and recycling, it is imperative that we eliminate the wasteful practice of manufacturing “can’t flip” mattresses.
The con was on from the very beginning; it was pitched as a benefit to the consumer, “never flip your bed again.” The reality of it is, the cost of manufacturing a one sided bed is up to 30% less, and the prices didn’t drop at all. The manufacturer’s margins went through the roof, and an ad campaign carried them to record breaking profits. Great for them, bad for you. Consumers felt like they were getting a great deal, but body impression problems started almost immediately. Sometimes people weren’t even told that the bed couldn’t be flipped though, and when they went to turn the mattress, they thought they had been cheated.
Now you’re thinking, “why not just buy a mattress by another manufacturer?” If it had been just one company, the next bed you’d get after this disappointing purchase would be a two sided bed by someone else. But eventually they all did it: Sealy, Simmons, Stearns & Foster, Serta, Spring Aire, Tempur-Pedic, Select Comfort, etc. Not one of those companies makes a bed that can flip.
This is a tough pill to swallow, consumers are more limited than they used to be, and most don’t even know it. In July of 2007 a new federal fire safety standard went into effect on all mattresses sold in the United States, and it was a costly test to pass. Each bed tested has to pass the fire regulations and it costs thousands of dollars per mattress. This drove many small mattress manufacturing companies out of business (much like small gas stations were driven out of business when tanks needed to be replaced; an unintended consequence). It consolidated the industry into primarily the big players listed above. Now if you are looking for alternatives, you have to know where to look. Furthermore, while you’re out there shopping they might even tell you no one makes two sided mattresses anymore, an untruth that our customers report having been told at competitors’ stores frequently.
Through the years manufacturers and mattresses have changed; waterbeds have faded into a novelty, pillow-tops and ultra plush mattresses have arrived, memory foam, and adjustable air mattresses have advertised their way into the forefront, and “no flip mattresses” have taken over. When one sided beds entered the market place consumers looked on the concept with skepticism. When the manufacturers claimed that the beds would last just as long, the consumer asked “How can it?” The materials were the same; though manufacturers claimed they were better. The polyurethane foam in most mattresses breaks down, compressing roughly 20 % every 5 years. If one were to believe what they said, then some miracle had to be at work. Unfortunately for consumers, there are no mattress miracles, and saggy mattresses have ensued.
Here is what differentiates a one sided bed from a two sided bed: when you sleep in a spot on the mattress you compress the foam only in that area; after a few weeks, or months you will be able to see a defined difference between where you sleep and the rest of the bed. If there are two people then you will develop a crest in the middle of the mattress over time. If you rotate your mattress head to foot, you will still be sleeping in mostly the same place, but you will vary it slightly. However, the crest in the middle will remain. After a couple of years it will get more and more defined, to the point that your mattress will look like two hammocks side by side (over 2” sags on each side have been reported on mattresses under 2 years old). It will often be uncomfortable, but not saggy enough to meet the warranty requirements. This could be avoided by flipping the mattress over. When you flip the bed, the weight of both you and your mattress will be distributed across the entire surface on which you had been sleeping. The majority of the pressure will be on the areas which you had not compressed, resulting in flattening of the mattress as you wear the other side. The durability of a two sided bed then becomes significantly greater; potentially 2-3 times as long.
So why do most stores still carry only one sided mattresses? Brand name recognition and profit margins! Someone who has owned a Simmons or Sterns & Foster for 15-20 years may want to get another one. Unfortunately for them Simmons or Sterns & Foster today is not the same company of 20 years ago. They are making a completely different product, and are owned by completely different people.
Maybe you didn’t know. Maybe you haven’t had to buy a mattress in the last 15 years. If you have, you probably have had to buy more than one. If you’ve bought a single sided mattress that has held up to years of use it was most likely very expensive, very firm, or both.