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Sleeping-products event a real eye-opener

March 14, 2012
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Visitors attending conventions, meetings and other business events were responsible for about one-third of the tourism impact. (IBJ file photo)

The latest convention of the International Sleep Products Association is shaping up to be anything but a yawner.

About 3,200 visitors are in Indianapolis through Saturday as part of the Alexandria, Va.-based organization’s biennial event to showcase the latest technology in mattress manufacturing and sleep-related products.

Drowsy yet? Well, consider this: Nearly 200 exhibitors are occupying about 110,000-square-feet of space in the Indiana Convention Center—both record numbers for the association.

By comparison, 169 exhibitors traveled to Charlotte for ISPA’s last convention in 2010, said Catherine Lyons, its senior vice president.

“For us, it indicates faith in the future and a turnaround in the economy,” she said. “Otherwise, [exhibitors] wouldn’t invest.”

sleep convention 15colExhibitor attendance jumped nearly 15 percent this year as the International Sleep Products Association convention switched locales to Indianapolis. (IBJ Photo/Perry Reichanadter)

Manufacturers of bed components use the event to show off new products to big-name mattress makers such as Tempur-Pedic, Therapedic, Sealy, King Koil and Simmons.

And here’s a real eye-opener: About 600 factories in the United States alone make mattresses, contributing to an industry that boasts annual sales of about $12 billion.

In Indiana, family-owned Holder Mattress is based in Kokomo and makes mattresses in the Howard County community north of Indianapolis.

Exhibitors at the convention center range from thread and tape makers to upholstery and fabric suppliers to companies that produce the machinery to manufacture a mattress.

The two big machinery makers, Carthage, Mo.-based Leggett & Platt Inc. and Atlanta Attachment Co., both are displaying their equipment, some of which can sell for as much as $300,000.

Comfort, of course, is still the most important factor in bedding. That's what manufacturers concentrate on when they make improvements, said Gerry Borreggine, president and CEO of Therapedic.

All-foam models are beginning to replace traditional inter-spring mattresses and now comprise about 30 percent of the industry.

But one component of a mattress that has remained steady throughout the years is the color—white.

“We’ve conscientiously tried to push the color envelope [in the past], and the consumer has pushed back,” Borreggine said. “White just looks more clean.”

Health concerns are one reason why the industry recommends that consumers change their mattresses at least every eight years. Bedbugs are a growing concern with many consumers.

Frequent mattress changing isn't a sales pitch, says Borreggine, who plays bass in the band The Insomniacs, which will help provide entertainment at the convention.
 
“What’s inside that mattress [after eight years] is actually disgusting,” he said. “It’s just not a healthy situation.”
 

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