To the Chinese a mattress made in America is heaven

Consumer Reports News: September 23, 2011 04:06 PM

Here’s a switch: Made in America, sold in China. When Noah’s Manufacturing, a Houston-based company, recently announced it was busy setting up distribution channels for its mattresses in China, the company joined a small number of U.S. mattress makers that ship and sell the promise of a good night’s sleep to China’s burgeoning middle class.

“Like our middle class, they like a quality product, and they’re willing to pay for a well-made American product,” says Youval Meicler, Noah’s owner. Comfort is another factor. “Basically it had been a choice of mattresses that are hard as a floor, hard as a rock, or hard as a table,” he said. As for size, mostly one size fits all—a mattress that’s wider than a queen but shorter than a king, adds Meicler. He expects to have his innerspring and foam beds in stores next year, selling for $800 to $5,000. But first he plans on training sellers in mattress firmness, soft to hard, exporting the idea that a purchase is based on how the mattress feels to the consumer.

Kingsdown, Restonic and Wickline also export their bedding to China, according to Karin Mahoney, a spokesperson for the International Sleep Products Association, a trade group. Kingsdown has done so for a decade, and as the U.S. economy slumbers, the manufacturer is excited about the Chinese market. “They like the cachet of a higher quality brand, and we’re thankful,” says Frank Hood, the company’s senior vice president. Its innerspring mattresses for export are made in North Carolina and California, and tailored to the Chinese market. As to how they differ from Chinese-made beds, Hood says, “We use very high quality components. I can’t say every country employs that same rigor.”

Restonic’s California-made mattresses have been sold in China for a year. Ron Passaglia, company president and CEO, echoes the other manufacturers, saying American-made luxury bedding has real value in China. And while the U.S. economy has folks tossing and turning at night, for some American mattress manufacturers, their small but growing business in China may bring sweet dreams.

When we asked our online subscribers how they get a good night’s sleep, 78 percent said that a new bed, any new bed, improved their ability to rest at night; 42 percent said a new mattress greatly improved their sleep. They also let us know their favorite brands and retailers.

Kimberly Janeway

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