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David Perry

Bob Sherman goes out on top to cap his remarkable career

David PerryDavid Perry - Executive Editor
The bedding world has been buzzing with talk about the recent departure of Bob Sherman, one of the most high-profile figures in the industry.
     Serta Simmons Holdings, the parent of Serta and Simmons, said that Sherman "has decided to leave the company to pursue other interests." His wife, Barbara Bradford, has also decided to do the same thing, the company announced.
     We don't yet know why Bob and Barbara decided to leave, although some theories are being offered. Over time, the circumstances of their departure will become clearer.
     What we do know is that Bob and Barbara cast long shadows in their decades of industry service, and that almost everyone in the industry has some thoughts on their bedding careers. I've reached out to dozens of industry leaders for their reactions. Here are some of the more candid comments I received, from execs who didn't want their names used.
     Praise for Bob Sherman was common.
    "I think the industry has lost one of its titans," one executive said. "This will be a great loss to our industry."
     "Bob was the heart and soul of Serta," another executive commented. "He made the company what it is today."
     A third said that Barbara's accomplishments were considerable and weren't appropriately recognized in the statement announcing her departure.
     There was also some criticism of Bob. One executive noted that mattress warranties lengthened under Sherman's leadership at Serta. "Bob was not focused on what was best for our industry," this executive said. "He pushed warranties up to 25 years."
     Said another exec: "Bob was one of the most focused
people I've ever known. He was very focused on what was
best for Serta."
     "Bob had accomplished all he could at Serta," another executive commented. "He didn't want to bend to the will of the investors. I know the pressure had to be ramping up for cost savings. I can't imagine he would have wanted to deal with that."
     Is another bedding job in Bob Sherman's future? Most executives don't think so. They said that Sherman, 61, benefited handsomely from past acquisitions of the company, recorded once-in-a-lifetime achievements like unseating Sealy as the sales leader and launching a record-setting brand like iComfort, and could exit the industry at the height of his success, an accomplishment few leaders in any industry can enjoy.
     That would be a fitting finale for the remarkable career of Bob Sherman.

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