OMI makes case for organic bedding category
Staff Staff -- Furniture Today, October 16, 2013
YUBA CITY, Calif. - In a showroom here filled with certified organic mattresses, each painstakingly produced by a veteran work force, true believer Walt Bader made the case for the organic bedding category.
First he cited the retail success stories at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, sprouting up across the country like so many mushrooms, which both feature a range of organic products. The same demographics boosting sales of organic goodies at those stores are working in favor of organic mattresses, he observed.
Now it was time for some numbers from the former marketing teacher:
"Seventy eight percent of families in the United States are buying certified organic products, and the organic category is growing at a 20% rate each year and now accounts for $33 billion in sales per year," he said.
Then there was "anecdotal evidence" - the success the category is enjoying with retailers from coast to coast, from Get- A-Mattress in Arroyo Grande, Calif., to Long's Bedding in New York City, both of which carry OMI beds.
Then, finally, there was the success of Bader's company, Organic Mattresses Inc., which is "growing rapidly" as it celebrates its 10th anniversary. Bader, founder and president, declined to disclose the company's sales.
But there was one final element in his case for organic bedding. Given all of the things the category has going for it, Bader said, shouldn't retailers give consumers the choice of organic bedding products?
"The organic mattress category has a tremendous amount of untapped demand," he said. "Once the consumer is given the choice, they are willing to spend money. But today, many consumers are totally unaware that organic beds exist. If I had the money for a Super Bowl commercial, things would be different."
Bader has been doing his part to bring awareness to the category.
Bader inspects organic cotton that he uses in his sleep sets.
All OMI sleep products carry the Global Organic Latex Standard certification for organic latex. OMI was the first producer to earn GOLS certification, an indication, Bader said, of his company's leadership in the organic bedding category.
While Bader is a big believer in the value of certification programs, which he says add credibility to his company's products, he notes that OMI's integrity also assures consumers they are getting high-quality organic sleep products.
He's partial to a quote from British historian Thomas Macaulay: "The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out."
"That's how we operate this company," Bader said. "We operate with integrity and purity. You can open up our products and see the raw materials we are using. We don't hide anything we do. Our quality shows itself when people look at our products or when they come to our factory."
OMI uses ozone to sanitize its raw materials, which it places in specially constructed chambers in the evenings. Most of the equipment at its factory, formerly a tomato canning facility, was modified or created specifically to meet OMI's demanding construction standards, Bader said.
The company is so proud of the various certifications it has earned that it displays them on its Purity Guarantee, which states simply: "If you can find a purer mattress, we'll give you ours for free."
That would be a significant investment on the company's part, but it's one OMI has never had to make. OMI's 20 sleep sets retail from $1,995 to $9,995 for a bed that offers 81 different feels through the use of latex cores of varying firmnesses.
The bestselling bed in the line, the Terra, retails at a lofty $5,995.
Organic mattresses are not inexpensive, Bader acknowledges, but says the premium raw materials are worth the cost. He also says OMI's products compare favorably to much higher priced beds.
"Relative to comparative products, we are the best buy out there," he said. "We are the common man's organic mattress line. When we are up against those beds that can cost 10 or 20 times as much as ours, we kill them."
Walt Bader sits on his highest-priced organic sleep set, which features latex pads that can be used to vary the firmness of each side of the sleep set.
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