Michael Fux: The Next Revolution
March 7, 2011,
By Warren Shoulberg
New York- Michael Fux says he isn't crazy.
And that's exactly what Fux - the founder and former owner of longtime pad and pillow powerhouse Sleep Innovations - is doing this month with the launch of his new company, Comfort Revolution.
Fux has sat out on the sidelines for the past five years, pursing his charitable and personal interests, but at New York market next week Fux will be back big-time with his new company.
"A lot of people think I'm crazy getting back into the business," Fux was saying recently as work was progressing rapidly on the company's new showroom space at 230 Fifth Avenue. "They told me the competition was going to eat me alive.
"Well, I left five years ago (when he sold Sleep to a private equity investment firm) and I haven't seen anything new since then. I know I have a lot more competition now, but I have my creativity, my knowledge of the business and my knowledge of the consumer.
"And I've got something else I didn't have before: I've got money."
When Fux, who had spent most of his career on the retail side of the home furnishings business after emigrating from Cuba as a youth, founded Sleep Innovations in the mid-1990s, the idea of bedding products like pads, pillows and mattresses using viscose memory foam was brand new, an unproven product without any mass acceptance.
Sleep changed that and it did so, most people acknowledge, through an ongoing barrage of new products and new packaging, the foundations of the company's strategy. It proved hugely successful and Sleep Innovations became the dominant player in the field, doing over $300 million a year in annual sales.
Fux is determined to do it again. "I'm not going into this blind. I understand the economy has changed, and the players have changed. But the consumer hasn't changed. The category has been stagnant, and I'm going to give the retailers something different."
Prior to market week, there weren't a lot of details being released about the company's offerings, but it will be focused on the foam pad, pillow and mattress market that Fux knows all too well. He said he expects to introduce products that are not strictly price-plays, although they will be competitive. "The name of the company says it all; we're going to revolutionize the sleep business."
Fux became wealthy as he built and then sold Sleep Innovations and is well known for his love of both automobiles and charities, both of which he indulges on a large scale.
Which of course raises the question of why is he doing this again? "My motivation? It's my need to contribute and to rebuilding something that I once built. I don't like losing, I like winning."
Fux has reassembled many of the members of his original Sleep Innovations team, and the new showroom in room 1500 will carry several of Fux' signature design cues, including wide open spaces, a clean white motif and selections from his personal art collection. The first line of new products will be ready for fall delivery and will be followed up with several licensed brands. And innovative packaging will once again be a cornerstone of the Comfort Revolution line-up.
"Maybe I'm five years older, but when I go into something, I go whole heartedly. And I understand this business. Hell, if anyone understands this business, it's me.
"And ever since I got back into it, I feel like a kid again."
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