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Spears Family Launches Heritage Sleep Concepts Featuring Eclipse and Eastman House Mattress Brands

Furniture World News Desk on 3/15/2015

Above Eclipse / Eastman House Team: From bottom right, counter-clockwise... Stuart Carlitz CEO, Matthew Connolly President, Katie Jansen, Ken MacDonald, Mike Orlen, Steve Vitello, and Joel Sauls, Sales.

Below Spears Family / Team: Back Row (Left to Right) – Barry Simpson, Bob Ashburn, Jamie Beck, Frankie Beck
Front Row (Left to Right) – Robin Simpson, Bryant Simpson, Terry Spears, Glenda Spears, Jordan Beck, Kristi Beck

Mattress manufacturing veteran Terry Spears and Stuart Carlitz, CEO of Bedding Industries of America (BIA), manufacturers of the Eclipse® and Eastman House® mattress brands, formally announced the launch of Rome, Georgia-based Heritage Sleep Concepts™, in what Spears characterized as the “Return of the Sleeping Giant of The South.”

More than the convergence of a family mattress business steeped in decades of tradition, successfully serving key independent dealers throughout the South with two centuries-old mattress brands, the launch of Heritage Sleep Concepts, LLC is rightly described by Spears and Carlitz as a joining between two bedding legacies serving the critical interests of independent mattress/bedding retailers in the South. “This is more than the usual licensing arrangement to engage in business,” says Spears, “This is a new “partnership” of experienced professionals, bringing two bedding teams together, to address the needs of retailers my family has served for decades.” ( See attached Photographs of Spears Family & Team and Eclipse / Eastman House Team.)

As might be expected from the family that founded and ran Spears Mattress Company since 1973, Heritage Sleep Concepts , LLC is owned and operated by the Spears family including Terry’s wife Glenda Spears, Terry’s two daughters Robin Simpson and Kristi Beck, as well as their husbands, Barry Simpson and Frankie Beck. Spears also reached back into his reserve of highly experienced mattress veterans to bring on Bob Ashburn, who has 30-plus years of marketing and sales experience with such brands as Englander, Simmons and Spring Air. Spears also recruited Bob McDaniel with 30-plus years of sales and key account management with Restonic, Simmons, Englander and Spring Air. It is a new company with a strong bench with roots that run deep through the bedding industry. In the past, this team had developed many of the successful mattress products that were sold by key independent dealers throughout the South helping these dealers to strengthen their entire sleep gallery programs over a 20-year period.

The Spears team made many friends in the industry, helping build brands that consumers loved for their quality and their value. Over a forty year period, key relationships were developed with component suppliers and other mattress manufacturers. “You can’t successfully do business over 40 years with bedding suppliers and other brands and not develop long term friendships,” says Spears. One of those key relationships dates back to the late 1980’s when Terry Spears first met Stuart Carlitz, when Stuart and his brother were Englander licensees. Today Stuart is President and CEO of Bedding Industries of America (BIA) , manufacturers of Eastman House and Eclipse. The Eastman House and Eclipse branded legacies go back over a century in the case of each brand.

Eastman House was founded in Burlington, Iowa in 1866 and has evolved with partnerships and co-marketing over the decades with such recognized, high quality industry brands as Chittenden, Airloom and Dormir Sleep Products in the South. Over many decades, the Eastman House brand expanded into a nationally recognized brand. In 2007, the company was acquired by Carlitz’s Mattress Development Corporation, the licensing and marketing arm of Eclipse, Eastman House, Ernest Hemingway and BIA worldwide brands of mattresses.

Eclipse International, formerly known as Eclipse Sleep Products, was founded in 1905. Today Eclipse, which has 21 factories serving six continents, is known for combining the brand’s clinically-tested, proprietary and patented mattress component technologies to create excellent quality and high value mattresses which improve sleep quality, reduce back and neck pain and virtually eliminate stiffness.

The Eastman House and Eclipse brands are perfect for Heritage Sleep Concepts according to Spears. “Their history, the premium quality of these brands, the handcrafted and proprietary patented features offered by Eclipse and Eastman house are exactly what we need,” says Spears. Bob Ashburn, Heritage’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing states that, “These two brands offer Heritage Sleep the opportunity to build key products at important price points for today’s consumer. Dealers are looking for quality and value, and they are need to improve their AUSP and GP. Selling them the same major label branded bed as the store down the street without clear product differentiation is not a healthy merchandising strategy for our retailers,” states Ashburn.

Commenting on Heritage Sleep and the Spears family joining the Eclipse and Eastman House national brand presence, Carlitz states, “ We are very upbeat about bringing these two legacy organizations together. We have been very selective bringing in mattress factories, and The Spears family fits our model perfectly. They offer our brands strong ties with key retailers throughout the South.” Carlitz notes that with the addition of Heritage Sleep Concepts, Eclipse and Eastman House will have a total of 11 factories under license or sub-license handling BIA’s contract business. In the past several years Eclipse and Eastman House are being produced in factories in California, Tennessee, Texas, the northeast and now Rome, Georgia. Sub-leasing factories producing contract products include factories in Fresno, CA, Twin Falls, Idaho, Denver , Colorado, Minneapolis, MN. and in Iowa.( I’m not sure I’ve got all these)

Why Now? There is a Reason: The Unique Retail Opportunity in the south for this legacy partnership.

Spears and Ashburn explain that the launching of Heritage Sleep Concepts and its brand new state-of-the art 60,000 square foot mattress factory in Rome, GA has actually been two years in the making. Southerland’s acquisition of the Englander licensee (ACS assets) in Rome, GA and the closing of the old 300,000 square foot Spears Mattress factory moving the Englander licensee jobs to Nashville, TN, was only one factor in the decision to create this new company. Spears ticks off a list of events that had an impact on their decision. The closure of Spring Air Florida and Spring Air Atlanta, the closure of American Bedding in Georgia, the closure of Carolina Mattress Guild, the discontinuation of Sleep Comfort International, the sale and consolidation of Fraenkel / Englander with Symbol, the sale of Jamison to Solstice; and finally the closure of Advanced Sleep Concepts (ACS). The old Rome, Georgia plant, and sale of the assets to Southerland in Nashville, TN. Add to this the mergers and consolidations of the four top major mattress brands, along with the continued buyouts and mergers of the larger bedding retail specialty stores, the Spears and Eclipse/ Eastman House alliance sees an opportunity to offer independent furniture and mattress retailers better product merchandising with products that offer quality and real value. “All of these events and circumstances have come together over the last two years, creating this opportunity for Heritage Sleep Concepts and Eclipse/Eastman House to meet the needs of our customers in the Southeast,” says Spears.

Discussing the specifics of the Eastman House and Eclipse lines, Ashburn states, “Stuart Carlitz’s team has worked very closely with us to develop these two lines for our key retail customers. Our Eastman House line will focus on natural handcrafted features with premium latex and advanced hybrids programs. There will be a strong ‘power premium’ selection at key price points. The Eclipse product line will focus on the patented Spinal Zone® features at mid-price range and premium price points with the Chiro® Collection of chiropractic( details)endorsed mattresses. Both of these programs offer compelling features that consumers need, and retailers are looking for.” The lines will range from value products at $299 in Queen to the premium price point topping out at $1999. Queen,” according to Ashburn.

In summarizing the legacy alliance, Terry Spears states, “Given our opportunities and goals, the Eclipse/Eastman House brands are ideal for our marketing and manufacturing strategy. Stuart Carlitz and his management team have done a wonderful job of supporting our efforts during this product launch. Stuart’s commitment to quality was evident as soon as we walked into their plant. They have made it much easier for our team to move forward with a well researched product line that will make sense to our customers at every price point.”

For more information on Heritage Sleep Concepts, Eastman House or Eclipse International visit:
http://www.heritagesleepconcepts.comwww.eclipsemattress.com/    www.eastmanhousemattress.com/