How I Perfected the Hi-Tech Bed
As applications for the 2012 Inc. 500|5000 arrive, we thought it would be worthwhile to shine a spotlight on some of the companies that are vying to appear on our ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. (For more information and to apply, click here). One that caught our eye was Farmingdale, New York-based bedgear.
Eugene Alletto, the founder, CEO, and CFO of bedgear, is tired of you taking your sleep for granted, and calling your bedding “basic.” Founded in 2008, bedgear makes performance sheets, mattress protectors, and pillows made with moisture wicking fabric that helps regulate your body’s temperature, called Dri-Tec. Unlike athletic apparel, however, the fabric is smooth and silky, not slick, and it doesn't cling.
The inspiration for the technology, believe it or not, was quite innocent. Alletto's son was suffering from allergies and needed a mattress protecter that kept away dust but that also wouldn't make him overheat when he slept. With Alletto's two decades of experience in home furnishing, his many entrepreneurial ventures in the space, and his connections, he was able to develop the technology.
Prior to bedgear, Alletto was a manufacturer’s representative calling furniture and mattress retailers. He took that experience and launched his first start-up, a manufacturer’s representative group called Furniture Marketing Associates, in 1995. Then, in 1999, he added another start-up to his roster, Guard Master, to sell furniture care and protection products, primarily mattress protectors. He used capital from Guard Master to spin off the bedgear branch.
Now, three and a half years after its launch, bedgear has become the number one brand for Guard Master. Alletto attributes a lot of the success to bedgear’s sports-like environment. “We are a team, we believe in team, and every employee that has joined our company has brought us to a new level,” Alletto says. "Quarterback" is even printed on his business cards. The company, which now has 22 employees, grew 600% over the past three years. Bedgear brought in $18 million in revenue for 2011 and is projecting a little over $24 million for 2012.
Bedgear is mostly sold in specialty retail stores that sell mattresses. “We chose to go after a channel where it would be looked upon as added value to what they offer the customer,” Alletto says. Bedgear products are personalized by not only how you sleep--on your back, stomach, or side--but also by what you sleep on. “The pillow represents up to 30% of your overall spine alignment, which means the mattress only represents about 70% of your comfort,” Alletto says. “If you have the wrong pillow on your bed, you’re not going to get the full use out of your bed.” Bedgear makes 13 different styles of pillows to meet consumer’s sleep needs. The products are sold at 500 different retailers from coast to coast, Canada, and will be available in Latin America in July.
Today Alletto’s primary focus is on product innovation, marketing, and maintaining the selling system for bedgear. “Sleep is one of those important facts of life,” Alletto says. ”You’re going to handle things much better if I make you sleep better.”