Former King Koil president Ernie Friedman dies at 81
David Perry -- Furniture Today, June 10, 2013
EDINA, Minn. — Former King Koil executive Ernie Friedman, who worked in the mattress industry for half a century, has died. He was 81.
Friedman, who served as president of the industry trade group International Sleep Products Assn. in the 1980s, built an international network of licensees for King Koil that was an early model for the industry to follow.
Comfort Solutions President Dave Roberts described Friedman as a visionary leader who saw the potential for international growth of mattress brands.
"His greatest achievement was the vision and foresight he had for the international development of the King Koil brand," said Roberts. He said King Koil, which is under the Comfort Solutions brand umbrella, generated about $350 million in international sales last year with 37 licensees in 80 countries.
Friedman started his career as a sales trainee at Englander. From there his career advanced to district sales manager for Englander in New York, sales manager for Englander in Boston, and then sales manager for Serta's Detroit factory.
He joined King Koil in 1977 as general sales manager. Five years later, he was named president of King Koil, a post he held for almost 20 years.
"My proudest moment was the BedQuarters program I set up at King Koil in the 1980s," Friedman said in an interview with Furniture/Today after he left his day-to-day duties at King Koil. "That program (an early retail bedding gallery program) was probably ahead of its time. It was my greatest achievement and my greatest disappointment. I just couldn't get the support of the group."
Over the years, Friedman devoted considerable time to his work for ISPA. He was a founding member of the association's Better Sleep Council.
His funeral will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at Lakewood Cemetery Chapel in Minneapolis.