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Change is an element of growth, Stagner says

David Perry Executive editorDavid Perry Executive editor
There was a lot of talk about change at Therapedic's recent international meeting, held in sunny Las Vegas. And that's a positive development for a bedding brand that currently sits squarely in the middle of the list of the Top 15 U.S. Bedding Producers. (It's the No. 8 brand.)
     Mattress Firm CEO Steve Stagner, one of the meeting's keynote speakers, sounded like a business school professor as he outlined the stages of growth that face all companies. And he made several important points about change:
     ► Change is not an event but part of the growth process.
     ► "If you don't like change, you will hate death."
     ► "Change will happen whether we like it or not."
     ► It is the leader's role in a successful company to embrace change and bring it to reality.
     Stagner and his deep team of managers have
brought many changes to rapidly growing Mattress Firm, nurturing a culture that aims to improve performance by empowering employees, viewing mistakes as learning opportunities, promoting creativity, and being ready for change.
     That last point is an important one; Stagner commented on how much the mattress industry has changed in just the last few months. And that rapidly changing landscape confronts bedding producers and retailers with new opportunities - and challenges.

     Therapedic executives emphasized the opportunities in their presentations to the group. Chairman Norman Rosenblatt said Therapedic can gain ground in the market if its licensees embrace innovation and reinvest in the brand. Other bedding producers have made big market share gains and Therapedic can too, he said.
     Rosenblatt is right. My research into the bedding market, the highlights of which I shared with the Therapedic group, found that Tempur-Pedic had bedding revenues of just $100 million in 2002 and was well down the list of producers. Now, of course, Tempur-Pedic is the No. 4 brand and has an agreement to buy No. 2 producer Sealy.
     If Sealy had been more focused on market changes, it could have bought Tempur-Pedic years ago. In 2002, Sealy was more than 10 times the size of Tempur. But Sealy is only modestly bigger today than it was a decade ago, while Tempur-Pedic has grown more than eightfold since 2002. So change comes slowly in the mattress industry, and it also comes quickly.
     The trend toward consolidation is gaining momentum in the industry. The big are getting bigger and stronger. Competition is heating up. Innovation is more important than ever.
     But nimble, committed producers can thrive in this climate, Therapedic executives told their licensees. And that's the edge they say their brand brings to the market.

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