San Francisco, CA
Industry: Consumer & Lifestyle
Products: Mattresses and Box Springs
Selling direct to consumer has been a successful formula for CEO Robin McRoskey Azevedo, who carries on the family’s century-old traditions.
For nearly 120 years, the McRoskey Mattress Company has been a part of San Francisco’s manufacturing community. Now guided by the granddaughter of the company’s founder, Leonard McRoskey, it continues to manufacture and sell its premium quality mattresses and box springs to a loyal and ever-expanding customer base in the Bay Area.
McRoskey Mattress Company is part of SF Made, a group which helps its members cope with the particular needs of Bay Area industrial companies. It’s roots in the Bay area, however, started long ago, when the McRoskey brothers, Edward and Leonard, arrived in San Francisco in the late 1800’s. They had the intent of selling mattress-making equipment as they previously done in Chicago. With no manufacturers in the area to purchase their wares, they decided to go into the mattress making business themselves in 1899.
Business boomed after the San Francisco earthquake and fire in 1906, as many people needed to replace their beds. Despite their success, the brothers parted ways in the 1920’s and became competitors. By 1929, Edward had passed away and his business shuttered. Leonard carried on with his McRoskey Mattress Company and later developed and patented new equipment to improve upon the manufacturing process.
Azevedo tells us the that company’s focus remains the same as in the early days. "We really have remained focused on making a comfortable and well-made mattress and box spring," she says. "The company has always paid attention to the materials it uses, and to construction features. In moving forward, we continue to hold onto those things that have value, and we’re proud of that."
McRoskey Mattress sells its products direct to consumers through its own stores and online retail. There are no distributors or other retail outlets. "The other thing that we’ve really adhered to over the years is that what we make, we sell," says Azevedo. "There are fewer relationships today where the consumer can deal directly with the manufacturer. It’s very pleasing on my part when I’m dealing with a customer, that they know they can count on us because we’re the manufacturer."
The process of making the mattresses and box springs at McRoskey is largely a skilled, non-automated task. "There’s a lot of knowledge in the hands that are operating the work tables," says Azevedo. The company finds little need for frequent hiring as it has a stable, long-term workforce. When they do bring in new workers, there’s a need for a certain amount of on the job training as few people are experienced in mattress making, let alone the particular methods used by McRoskey. The materials used in making the products, such as cotton, fabric and wire are all sourced domestically, with much of it coming from California.
With the wide variety of mattresses available in the market, Azevedo feels their formula of finding the best sleep product for a customer’s individual needs is still a recipe for success. "What we focus on is a quality product that’s well made and a good customer experience," says Azevedo. "Even if a customer orders online, we follow up with a phone call and go through our due diligence to find out what they really need, and that they have a good understanding of what they are getting."
Mattress purchases are not particularly seasonal, so the company’s cash flow is relatively steady, but the process and made-to-order philosophy work well to build efficiencies. "When we sell a mattress, we build to the order, so we’re not building and then putting product in a warehouse. That has some efficiencies to it as far as our cash flow."
Challenges: Azevedo points out that with an ever-changing internet, adapting to online sales and blending that with their traditional in-store selling techniques, is often the most challenging for the company right now.
Opportunities: At the same time, the increase of online purchasing presents the company with additional ways to reach more customers. "The opportunity there is coming to an understanding of what’s convenient for the consumer, and how we play into that," says Azevedo. "People may come to us, get information, and consider us for a purchase. They may make their decision at 10 pm at night, or maybe 2 am in the morning because they can’t sleep!"
The company is also in the process of opening a "pop-up" store in San Rafael, California for few months on a trial basis. The no-frills shop will allow the company to assess interest in the area for its products with a minimum of overhead. If it succeeds, they will expand it into a permanent store.
Needs: "Our talent pool of managers and factory production space is all good, and so we’re really just looking to expand by attracting more shoppers," says Azevedo.
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