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Founders Wake Up Comfort Sleeper

Re-formed company to debut during New York Home Textiles Market

A lot has changed in the home textiles industry since the trio behind Comfort Sleeper split up. That's exactly why they decided to reconstitute the company.

Comfort Sleeper will officially debut during the New York Home Textiles Market in a new showroom at 295 Fifth Ave. The principals are Michael Rothbard, ceo; Randy Spence, president; and Chris Ann Ernst, vp. The original Comfort Sleeper was acquired by and merged into Sunrise Medical in 1992. The owners recently decided to exit the business.

Comfort Sleeper was once the industry's largest supplier of convoluted foam pads. That was back in the day when there wasn't much more than that to the foam business — and unit prices topped out at $8. Now, “inexpensive” memory foam pads retail in the $40 range, and prices can run up to several hundred dollars.

But it's not the fatter price point that got the Sleep Comfort gang back together.

“When we were in business 15 years ago, we were always talking about the aging Baby Boomers in the future and the need for a better night's sleep,” said Rothbard. “The future is now.”

Spence said Comfort Sleeper will create products for the upcoming market based on new technologies in visco-elastic and latex, some created within only the past few months. “Our intent is to be about more than pillows and pads — to be about innovations. If it provides you a better night's sleep, we're going to be involved in that,” he added.

The early projects in the pipeline include ventilated foam for cooler sleep, and foam pads that spring back into shape in a matter of hours rather than days, according to Ernst. “This category has a whole lot more of a story to tell.”

Ernst spent the last several years in apparel, most recently handling Calvin Klein's better sportswear line and C.K. jeans. She will be based in the New York office.

Rothbard, who has divided his time between investing and honing his polo skills, will anchor the West Coast from his office in California.

Spence, the only one of the three who stayed in the home textiles business, most recently at Springs, will remain based in Charlotte, N.C.

The trio considers the upcoming market as a soft opening. Said Spence: “We're really going to ramp up in August.”

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