The Executive Profile: Rion Morgenstern — The Business Journal Page 9
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Now that the Chattam & Wells mattress you’ve designed is on market with Mattress Firm, how has its reception been and how has it been doing in the market?

It’s been amazing. The market was ready for the reintroduction of the brand in 2015. At that time, consumers were comfortable spending money on better goods and making aspirational purchases again. Chattam & Wells continues to sell well.

Along with Mattress Firm, are you looking at any other potential buyers of Chattam & Wells in the near future?

The brand is a broadly marketed product, and we continue to expand it throughout the western United States.

You’ve been making Spring Air mattresses for decades. How has this relationship opened this opportunity for you?

We have a very synergistic relationship with Spring Air. In 2015, our team embarked on the mission of redesigning the Chattam & Wells brand. We licensed the intellectual property from Spring Air to create the product.
The opportunity to bring the product to Mattress Firm came through Spring Air’s access to the retailer as a national licensing organization.

How have customers been reacting to the McRoskey mattress?

We’ve gotten positive feedback from the key retail customers with whom we’ve previewed the line. They like the handcraftsmanship and the legacy the brand offers to the marketplace.

How has your focus on presentation and quality on traditional mattresses over industry trends aided your company?

We have shifted our manufacturing focus to serve the premium and super-premium mattress segment to remain successful and competitive in our business. The cost of manufacturing in California, coupled with the fact that the low-cost mattress segment is hyper-competitive, pushed us to make the transition a couple of years ago. By doing so, we’ve been able to provide strong salaries for our employees and offer solid competitive pay to attract quality employees in a tight job market.

Where do you see Pleasant Mattress heading in terms of growth over the next 10 years?

We are shifting away from measuring success in terms of growth. Instead, we’re measuring success in the quality of product that we’re manufacturing, and the impact we’re having on our 150 employees. We’re very focused on sustainability and taking care of our team. While we’re focused on those aspects of our business, the growth happens more organically.

What mattress do you sleep on?

A NextNature mattress, which is a brand we developed that isn’t yet in the marketplace. It’s a super-premium, all-natural mattress designed with cotton, wool and latex and no polyester or polyurethane.

What are your roots in the Central Valley?

I was born and raised here and attended Fresno and Clovis Unified Schools. I graduated from Clovis West High School. I’ve lived in Monterey, Orange County and San Diego and traveled the world. I returned to Fresno in 2011 after living in other places for 18 years.

What was your very first job and what did you learn from it?

My first job that someone paid me money for was working in the mattress factory when I was 9 years old. I mostly swept the factory floors, and occasionally would button tuft mattresses. It taught me mostly that I didn’t want to work in a mattress factory because I thought they were dirty, hot and sweaty and offered no opportunity to be creative. In coming back to the company and looking at it

with the eyes of an adult, I see the creativity and the ability we have to impact lives. It’s amazing how values shift.

My first paycheck came when I worked as a media runner for an advertisement agency, The Madison Avenue Group. I worked as a courier picking up copy and other materials from clients and delivered it to the press. As a counterpoint to the factory, I learned that you can make a good living by expressing your creativity while working around some very creative people.