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David Perry

Record crowd at bedding event

Serta PresidentSerta President Bob Sherman shows an ice sculpture at the Bedding Conference touting Serta’s new U.S. market share ranking: No. 1.
AVENTURA, Fla. - More than 320 members of the mattress industry gathered here earlier this month for Furniture/Today's seventh annual Bedding Conference.
     The event, held at the Turnberry Isle Miami Resort, drew a record crowd for its three-day run.
     The attendees, a who's who list of top retailers, producers and suppliers, got updates on the latest industry trends from a group of bedding leaders.
     "Sleep Stories: Lessons in Bedding Leadership" was the conference theme.
     Keynote speaker Kevin Freiberg, a top business analyst, set the tone with a provocative talk challenging industry executives to step up their performance and provide transformational leadership.
     He was followed by Dr. Neil Stanley, a British sleep expert who combined humorous anecdotes and insights to illustrate the importance of a good night's sleep.
     The conference marked the first occasion on which retail bedding sales associates had a role on the agenda. Mark Quinn, segment vice president of marketing for Leggett & Platt, introduced the RSAs. L&P is educating the RSA community with its Sleep Geek website.
     Continuing the retail theme was Craig McAndrews, executive vice president of retail concept development with Houston-based Mattress Firm. He reviewed the state of the retail industry these days and challenged attendees to look for business-building tips throughout the conference.
     Retailers representing four bedding distribution channels shared best practices during a panel discussion. They were Dan Dietz of, an online retailer; Terry Flach, general merchandise manager at Sears; Kristi Morris, bedding buyer at Milwaukee-based furniture retailer Steinhafels; and Barrie Brown, president of a new Hastens sleep shop in San Jose, Calif.
     Another panel, featuring top executives at Serta, Sealy, Simmons and Comfort Solutions, addressed several "hot issues" facing the industry.
     The conference also got an overview of top bedding ads from Kristi Griggs of G-Force Marketing Solutions, learned about consumer complaints about the industry from Michael Magnuson, CEO of mattress review site, and heard about key activities of the International Sleep Products Assn. from Ryan Trainer, ISPA president.
     The conference was sponsored by almost three dozen bedding producers and suppliers. Hickory Springs was the headline sponsor. Other major sponsors included Comfort Solutions, Leggett & Platt, Simmons and Serta.
     Conference coverage includes video highlights on Furniture/Today's website, www. The videos are sponsored by Simmons.

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