Kirk Forsyth talks about new mattress products that Gardner Mattress has released recently, and what we’re working on for 2021.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, and I’m here today with Kirk Forsyth, General Manager at Gardner Mattress, which has been making high quality, custom-made mattresses since 1933. Today our topic is new Gardner Mattress products. Welcome, Kirk.
Kirk Forsyth: Hey, John.
John: So, Kirk, what new mattress products has Gardner Mattress been working on recently?
Kirk: We’ve been trying to come up with some different options in our organic lines, trying to change, add in some softer comfort profiles into those lines. We’ve created what we call our Ultra Luxe product, which is all of our highest end organic materials combined into one product. It creates a softer feel than some of the other mattresses we’ve come up with over the years in that category of products.
We utilize a pocket coil with organic densified wool, organic cotton batting, and we use a one inch natural latex. Then we do a layer of horsehair, and then another layer of densified wool on top of that, and then a knit organic cotton fabric to go over that.
So, there’s a lot of layers in there, none of which are terribly heat-retaining, so it sleeps cool, has a softer feel, but the key product to really enhance that mattress is, we are working on a new line of hand-tied box springs that are much softer than regular coil box springs.
Coil box springs are fairly rare in our industry these days, as it is. Most things out on the market today are non-flex foundations in a variety of different qualities. Some are ultra cheap, where they’re 1×2 wooden strapping with cardboard on top, and then just a fabric over the top of that.
So, very low quality, not terribly long lasting. To things that are just like box springs in that they’re wood bases with steel structures on top, but they have no flex. So, they’re fine, they support a mattress well, but ultimately they don’t enhance the feel. They don’t change the life of the product, whereas a coil box spring can soften the feel of a mattress. They can enhance the life of a mattress, depending on the flexibility of the coils.
So, these hand-tied box springs are an old-fashioned type of product, but they have a lot more flex than even our traditional real coil box springs. So, I think they’re going to go a long way to enhancing a lot of the comfort profiles that we have out there already. A lot of them are really firm with organic materials because you have to pre-compress them.
So, if I can create a mattress like that, that lasts a long time, but then enhance that product with a more flexible box spring underneath it, to give the user a softer feel that we find that a lot of side sleepers really prefer, that’s going to be a real game changer, I think, for us.
John: Yeah, that’s interesting. I’ve actually always wondered what the purpose of the box spring was underneath a mattress. Is it fine to just put a mattress on the floor or on a hard surface of some kind, and does that have the same feel as putting it on top of a box spring and what that purpose is? So, you’re saying that having the coils in the box spring underneath the mattress actually ends up making the mattress itself be more flexible.
Kirk: Yeah, that’s absolutely correct. In fact, on some of the mattresses we show in our showroom we’ll have, we display mostly queens in the showroom, but we’ll have a split queen sort of thing underneath. One being a foundation, which has no flex. So, say, well, you have a platform bed, or you have your own foundation that doesn’t have any flex, we’ll have you try that side of the bed.
Whereas here’s the alternative on a coil box spring on the other side of the bed with something that has a little bit more flex. It also has some opportunities if, say, there’s not a polar opposite comfort preference between, say, two people on the same bed.
If there’s a slight, “Well, I like it slightly firmer,” or, “I like it slightly softer,” with one another on the same bed, that’s another way to accomplish that goal without changing the mattress at all. So, you have the same mattress, you have two different products underneath that’ll essentially do change the feel of the bed.
John: So, you can have a queen size mattress, like you said, but then have the box spring underneath it be split into two separate box springs, with one being a little more firm than the other?
Kirk: Yeah. So, one would be the foundations have absolutely no flex. So, it’s just like, as I said, being on a platform bed or whatever. It just has no flex, the floor, for instance. And then a coil box spring, it does have flex on the other side. When that person gets on that side, the down force of the person laying on the mattress will engage the box spring, so that you’re actually flexing the box spring sometimes more so than the mattress.
So, that interaction creates an ultimately a little softer feel than, obviously, the non-flex side on the other side. So, kings and queens, that’s an opportunity. Anything smaller than that, it really can’t… Obviously, with a twin, we can’t do that; fulls, it’s a little more complicated, plus there’s not as much width there to play with. So, it’s really mainly for our queen and king customers. But it’s a great opportunity to give you a little more flexibility.
John: You’re generally not having two people sleeping on a twin mattress or even a full mattress these days anyway.
Kirk: Not so much.
John: So that’s not really generally an issue, right?
Kirk: Yeah. Well, there are fulls still, but-
Ultra Luxe Mattress
John: Yeah. Yeah, maybe occasionally. You mentioned the Ultra Luxe product. What need does that fulfill in the marketplace? Is it all of those materials that you said going all into one mattress that might typically not all be in one mattress, or is it the organic materials there that’s the draw for people? What is it that mattress is fulfilling in terms of what people are looking for?
Kirk: Sure. The goal for that product, again, when we set out to create the organic line of bedding that we make, we also wanted to be able to provide different comfort profiles so that we weren’t creating just different material build lists for no reason. We want to have them… Well, this one is firmer than this one is firmer than this one is… You know what I mean?
So, when people come in, it’s not just about necessarily the materials that are in there, but also how they feel and how, when somebody lays on them, they’ve got some options in the firmness category. So, we were going after a market that… There are some really, really expensive mattresses out there, similar mattresses to this Ultra Luxe probably start at $10,000 and go up from there.
Kirk: I mean, there are mattresses out there that are over $100,000.
John: Wow. Unbelievable.
Kirk: Now, again, what they’re doing and what we’re doing with this product are not the same. I don’t claim to be anywhere near there, but the general concept in the two designs aren’t drastically different from any of these mattresses.
We’re an old-fashioned manufacturer. Hastens, who’s probably one of the oldest manufacturers in our the business, I think they’re over 300 years old. It’s a Swedish company. They are the highest end product there is in our industry. I mean, they have six figure mattresses, definitely a status symbol, royal families.
They make stuff that are heirloom types of products because I believe they still, and I don’t know, it might just be in Europe, that they refurbish and restore products too. So, if you had something that, maybe you had an 80-year-old mattress that you wanted restored so that it would, basically, be brand new. I’m sure there’s probably some fee for it.
But most of the time, the way that the hand craftsmanship that goes into even those products, is not drastically different than hand craftsmanship on ours, but those tufted, natural fiber-filled products tend to last a lot longer than, say, most of what we’re used to seeing in the marketplace, which are your S brands or national brands.
Let’s just use that as an example, where they’re just using springs and multiple layers of foams that some are very low densities, and that’s why the mattresses break down because there’s no substance to those materials. They feel very comfortable early on, and then tend to collapse. So, when we’re hand tufting these natural fibers, we’re compressing them, and that’s why they last a long time. And the mattresses are flippable too.
New Mattress Materials
John: Right. Are there any other types of new materials or even old materials that you’re considering using again, or types of coils or things that you’re exploring in terms of possibly creating new products?
Kirk: I think that the real difference for us is in that hand-tied box spring, because we’re actually taking… Our regular coil box springs are a terrific product, but the coils that they use are relatively untraditional. I mean, they’re still pretty stiff.
So, we’ve gone into more of an upholstery grade spring, which is a bigger, wider coil, still a very high quality, very thick gauge of wire, but because of the width of the coil, it tends to have more flex. It also doesn’t have as many rotations on it too. But I think it also has to do with how they temper the steel.
Maybe it’s not as hardened, so that it has a little bit more flex. That coupled with taking, essentially, what would normally be on a coil box spring, which should be a steel grid across the top, which really ties in those springs, that limits their individual mobility. It completely takes that away. So, it stiffens the surface of the box spring.
But what we’re doing with… It’s like an Italian twine. It’s an upholstery twine. We basically use an eight way hand tie across the top of the grip. So, these coils can move independently and they have a lot of flex. They’re free to flex as much or as little as they need to.
I think it’s an old-fashioned thing, but ultimately it’s going to be a unique product around here, for sure. There’s just not many manufacturers that do this work anymore, and I think it could really enhance some of the products that we’re doing already. It is an expensive box spring, though, I have to say too, because there’s a lot of work involved.
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information and very interesting, Kirk. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Kirk: Of course, anytime. Thank you.
John: And for more information, you can visit the Gardner Mattress website at gardnermattress.com or call 800-564-2736.