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Simmons second century

A story of sleep


Before Beautyrest, people slept (?) on
lumpy pods of cotton or hair.
hotels in the United States bought it.
But when the patent expired in 1917,
the innerspring mattress was still
handmade, very high priced, and
generally unknown.
The Simmons Company entered
the mattress field almost
inadvertently. In 1919, it purchased
the Newark Spring Mattress
Company, with an established
business in the East. That same year,
it acquired another mattress maker,
Hirsch & Spitz, of Atlanta.
Once in the business, Simmons
discovered that mattress-making was
almost a cottage industry, with
hundreds of tiny local manufacturers
turning out cheap products at low
prices. The use of second-hand
tailor's cuttings was universal.
Competition was entirely in terms of
price. As each manufacturer sought
his profit in the use of ever cheaper
and more unsanitary filling materials,
the consumer was the inevitable
loser.
The second Mr. Simmons,
Zalmon, Jr., was known as "The
Chief." He did not believe in doing
business that way. The company
began looking for a mattress of
clear superiority, one that could be
sold nationally. It found the answer
in the Marshall type of mattress, with
springs in individual cloth pockets.
The only trouble was, the product
was handmade. As in the case of
the woven wire spring, what we
needed was a machine.
Luckily, there was a man named
John Gail in our Kenosha factory
and he was reputed to be a
mechanical genius. The Chief turned
him loose on the "pocket problem,"
setting him up in a sequestered
drafting room in an Evanston, Illinois
office building. Three years later,
Gail had succeeded beyond
"The Chief," Zalmon Simmons, Jr.
Kenosha in the early days.
anybody's expectations. Although
our several Beautyrest pocket
machine patents have long since
expired, no competitor has ever
equalled our efficiency in the
manufacture of this vital component.
The Beautyrest Pocket Machine has
continued to be a key to our success
and we have never stopped
improving it.
Looking back, it is clear that what
our company accomplished was not
merely to find cheaper ways to
make and sell already available
products. Simmons created totally
new product standards and
manufacturing techniques which
together revolutionized the bedding
industry. In fact, it is no exaggeration
to say that Simmons gave birth to a
whole new industry.
With the new innerspring
mattress ready for market, The Chief
made another historic decision. He
set the retail price of the Beautyrest
at $39.50. Everybody thought he
was crazy, although no one in the
company quite used that word to
his face. After all, was notthis twice
what the average consumer was
used to paying for the very best hair
mattress? And besides, they said,
there was widespread objection to
the idea of a manufacturer setting
any retail price at all.
But The Chief had absolute faith
in the new mattress, and in the
ability of advertising and sales
promotion to educate the public to
its values and comfort. "This time,"
he said, closing off the debate, "I'm
going to have my way." While
retailers and competitors alike
laughed, the company announced
the new, firm price: $39.50. The
name "Beautyrest"-destined to
become our best-known brand
name-was chosen without any


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