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Mattress Firm CEO Stagner shares insights on business

Gerry BorreggineGerry Borreggine, left, Therapedic, with Kelly and Steve Stagner, Mattress Firm, Houston.
LAS VEGAS - Mattress Firm CEO Steve Stagner delivered a primer on the rise and fall of businesses at the Therapedic international meeting here.
     Success in business can lead to complacency, he warned. The most successful companies challenge themselves to get better and create winning cultures that enable them to adapt to changing circumstances.
     Stagner laced his talk with personal observations on the growth of Mattress Firm from a regional player to a national mattress powerhouse. The Houston-based retailer currently ranks as the No. 2 bedding retailer, with estimated bedding sales last year of $758.5 million.
     Stagner challenges his team with this question: If we are so good, why aren't we better? That is a question that challenges complacency and provides the basis for sustainable growth. It also imposes checks and balances on egos and exposes weaknesses in the organization, he said.
     Mattress Firm's leaders look at their business with an eye toward making it stronger. They ask themselves: How would we compete with Mattress Firm? How would we put ourselves out of business?
     "Someone in Hicksville (N.Y., where No. 1 bedding retailer Sleepy's is based) wants to put us out of business," Stagner said. "And others are thinking that way, too."
     Mattress Firm stands out with its color-coded merchandising format, he said. But even more important, the company strives to build a culture that empowers its employees, taking away the "interferences" that can inhibit performance, he said.
     Stagner was one of several speakers to address the Therapedic meeting.
     Some of the other highlights:
     ► Furniture/Today Editor-in-Chief Ray Allegrezza presented an overview of how Millennials view their current and future bedding. He noted that many Millennials say they are planning to buy specialty sleep beds and said that is a good category for the industry to promote as it reaches out to those consumers.
     ► Ross Bernstein, a bestselling sports author, advised his listeners to bring lessons from the world of sports to their business practices. "Today is day one of your new season," he said. "Individuals win games but teams win championships."
     ► Thom Winninger, a business author and analyst, said businesses should spend more time listening to their best customers and striving to meet their needs. "We listen to the bad customers, not the good ones," he said.
     ► Ryan Trainer, president of the International Sleep Products Assn., predicted that individual states will continue to seek funding from mattress producers to support mattress recycling programs. ISPA continues to favor a national approach to the mattress recycling issue, he said.

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