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David Perry

Eric Hinshaw retires as Kingsdown CEO; Frank Hood succeeds him

MEBANE, N.C. — Eric Hinshaw, CEO of Top 10 bedding producer Kingsdown for 31 years, announced his retirement this week.

 Eric Hinshaw, Kingsdown, mattressEric Hinshaw
 Frank Hood, Kingsdown, mattressFrank Hood

His duties are being assumed by Frank Hood, the company's current president, who adds the CEO title effective immediately.

"I think we found the right type of transition," said Hinshaw, who will be an advisor to the company and remains Kingsdown's largest minority shareholder. An Employee Stock Ownership Plan is the company's largest shareholder.

Hinshaw, 62, said he's looking forward to spending more time with his family and on various charitable causes.

He said the management team of Kevin Damewood, executive vice president of sales and marketing; Joe Schmoeller, executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Lee Hinshaw, president of the company's international operations, fits well with the consumer products background that Hood has brought to Kingsdown.

"The company is in a good, stable position and is in good stable hands," Eric Hinshaw said.

Reflecting on his career, Hinshaw said Kingsdown's emphasis on using science to develop better sleep systems and better ways to sell beds changed the bedding industry for the better. Over the years, more than seven million consumers have been tested by the company's bedMatch diagnostic system, designed to help them find the right mattress and pillow for their body type.

The leadership change comes as Kingsdown seeks to rebound from a sales slump last year. Sales fell 22.8% from the 2010 level, to $88 million, according to Furniture/Today estimates. That was the largest decline of any bedding major.

Hinshaw said the company experienced "one of our tougher years" in 2011 because it made numerous changes to the business that year, some of which have already led to better results this year. Sales are up almost 18% so far this year, Hood said.

He praised Hinshaw for his long record of service.

"We are grateful to Eric for his visionary leadership of our company for more than three decades," said Hood, 46. "We understand his desire to open a new chapter in his life and spending time with family and working on causes that are near and dear to his heart."

Hood also said he appreciated the opportunity the board has given him and "the confidence that they have in our leadership team. We have an amazing roster of bedding industry talent with Kevin Damewood heading sales, Joe Schmoeller leading operations, and Lee Hinshaw heading our international group. Each has many other industry veterans on their respective teams."

He added: "This is an exciting new chapter for our people and our customers. We will continue to invest in innovation, design and diagnostic technology to deliver the most cutting edge products for all of our retailers. Also, with five manufacturing facilities around the country, we will continue to expand our strong delivery system to service our client base."

Hinshaw joined Kingsdown in February 1976 after a brief career in public accounting. Five years later be became CEO. During his tenure, he and the Kingsdown management team grew Kingsdown from a regional manufacturer to a worldwide player with sales in more than 20 countries. The company says it is "one of the world's largest sleep products companies."

Hood, who formerly worked at Quiznos and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, joined Kingsdown in 2008. He has been chief information officer and president of the Sleep to Live Institute at Kingsdown. In February of this year he was named president of Kingsdown and assumed responsibility for day-to-day operations.

"Since the start of the year, we have taken many steps to improve our business, resulting in a strong first half," Hood said. "In particular, I am proud of our people who have been so focused on improving quality and adding depth to our product innovation. There are many exciting things on the horizon for this 108-year-old company. We are very enthusiastic about its continued growth and future."

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