By Alicia Cunningham | Mar 14, 2017
Employees: 500 +
Industry: Lifestyle & Consumer
Brothers Tony and Terry Pearce recognize that the road of innovation is a winding one. One minute you can be fly fishing together, discussing how to change the world, and the next you’re collaborating on how to make a really comfortable wheelchair to decrease compression sores. And even next, you are taking that manufacturing know-how to create other products, like a mattress, and a brand new company, like Purple.
Before forming Purple, the Pearce brothers decided to take the same principles they developed in manufacturing wheelchair cushions and moved to shoe insoles and backpack straps. In 2016, they were ready to expand to mattresses. Now with over 500 employees, it’s fair to say they have found a niche in their market.
"We added 500 jobs in the last year, and I hope we add hundreds more in the coming years. Delighting our customers is important, but I love creating jobs too," Tony says.
"Tony and Terry recognized that the mattress industry was going through a renaissance. They saw a great opportunity because traditionally mattresses were marked up an insane amount. They knew they could offer a high quality mattress to a public that did not want to pay thousands and thousands of dollars. They could offer the best pressure absorbing mattress at a great price. And that’s what they did," says Savannah Turk, Communications Director for Purple.
Before starting Purple, the Pearce brothers only had to manufacture items on a small scale: small seat cushions, small cushions for straps. Before opening Purple, they had to find a way to manufacture on a king-sized scale – in fact, a California King-sized scale. They built their own machine, known at Purple as Mattress Max.
"Mattress Max is our secret sauce," Turk says. "We have been granted 38 patents in the advanced cushioning arena, and the prototype of the Mattress Max is with us at our Alpine facility. This prototype was only built to produce 20 mattresses a day and now we push it to do hundreds. But it won’t be the only Mattress Max we have for much longer and then we can increase production of the mattress to meet the demand we’re receiving. That’s when Purple can really explode."
From an outside perspective, Purple has already exploded, having to hire over 500 employees in one year just to meet demand. Turk gives some credit to Utah for Purple’s ability to ramp up manufacturing so quickly.
"Utah has been great," she says. "The talent pool we have here has allowed us to hire so many employees. The economy is good and allows us to keep our costs down. Utah is really blowing up as the start-up state. It’s a great place to be an entrepreneur. We interact with other start-ups. We trade tips. We share tools that help us grow. It’s a great community."
Purple also looks beyond its community in Utah for help. Its foam is sourced from around the country from partners Purple says they feel comfortable and connected to. "We want to help people feel better," Turk says. "We want to alleviate pain, and that starts with using the highest quality of materials and the right partners."
Challenge: Growth. Purple is online only and directly responsible for getting its mattresses to its customers as soon as possible. "We ship directly to the consumer from one of our two facilities. We have partnered with FedEx and UPS to ship our products. We have dedicated trucks that help us ship our mattress and other products right from our facilities. There really is no middle man when it comes to getting Purple products delivered right to your door. And we ship all of our products to almost every state for free. A mattress is an intimate product and people cannot wait around for it when they decide they need it. Unfortunately, sometimes receiving a hand-crafted element requires patience."
Opportunity: New products. Purple launched four new products in addition to the mattress in 2016 and is continuing to innovate to produce products that complement the mattress space as well as comfortable products outside of the bedroom space. "Keep watching us innovate," Turk says. "Our team has great things slated for the next year."
Need: Keeping up with demand. "Hopefully it will remain a problem as demand and the excitement around our product stays high," Turk says.