THOMASVILLE, N.C. (AP) - The owners of Carolina Mattress Guild
don't need a bunch of laboratory tests to prove to them there's a
ready market for fire-resistant bedding products.
On Jan. 13, 2001, the small, privately owned firm had just
ramped up production in a new factory along Business 85 in
Thomasville when some bedding materials caught fire on the plant
All 85 employees got out safely, but the fast-moving blaze
consumed the inventory and equipment, causing nearly $3 million in
damages. The enormity of the destruction stayed with owners Kathy
and Neal Grigg, both veterans of the home furnishings industry.
"We saw what happens when foam burns," Neal Grigg said.
Production resumed a couple of weeks later in a rented space a
few miles away. Work also began immediately on developing a new
line of bedding that could meet tough new open-flame mattress
standards being proposed by the state of California.
Carolina Mattress Guild introduced its "Safe Dreams" line in
April of this year at the International Home Furnishings Market in
High Point. Kathy Grigg believes the line will distinguish the
small North Carolina company from much larger rivals such as Sealy
Corp. and Serta Inc.
"This something we knew we could do and we spent a lot of time
on it," she said.
Several weeks after the fire, Carolina Mattress Guild's owners
and their workers were back in a new plant with a newfound mission.
The company began testing different kinds of technology, looking
for one that could meet the safety requirements without sacrificing
Eventually, Carolina Mattress Guild teamed up with Elk
Technologies, which is better known for making fire-resistant
building materials, particularly for the roofing industry.
Elk Technologies developed a VeraShield fire barrier, which met
the bedding maker's goals for flame resistance and comfort. The
barrier is quilted to the ticking, which is the strong material
used for casings of mattresses.
The barrier also is used in the box spring on the bedding sets,
which will retail from $599 to about $1,200. The company began
shipping last month to retailers in the mid-Atlantic area but also
can ship to all 50 states - including California.
Last week, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Jim Long
commended Carolina Mattress Guild for becoming the first bedding
maker in the nation to pledge that it will meet the stringent fire
safety standards proposed by California, which is pioneering the
California's fire safety standard for bedding is likely to
become a national requirement, said Long, who believes it could
save hundreds of lives a year.
"Fires that begin in the bedroom are often the most deadly,"
said Long, who also serves as North Carolina's state fire marshal.
"Household occupants who are sleeping many be unable to awaken in
time to save their lives or those of their loved ones."
Miles Bristow, a spokesman for the California Department of
Consumer Affairs, said his state's new fire-resistant standard is
scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2004.
"All mattresses that are made for sale on or after that date
must meet our open-flame standards, which means more protections
for consumers," he said.
While the agency doesn't endorse particular products or
companies, Bristow said, Carolina Mattress Guild is demonstrating
how safety can be used as a marketing tool.
"We think the cost to consumers will be moderate," he said.
"People are willing to pay a reasonable cost for more safety."
Initially, the added features will not cost the consumer
anything. The company is absorbing the cost of adding the
fire-resistant technology to its bedding line, said Neal Grigg.
The Griggs acknowledge it could take some education for
consumers to understand all the benefits of fire-resistant bedding,
which will give people more time to escape deadly flames and smoke
in the event of a house fire.
"Our next big push is to include this on our lower price point
bedding lines," said Kathy Grigg. "We want to reach families with
On the Net:
North Carolina Department of Insurance: http://www.ncdoi.com/
California Department of Consumer Affairs:
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Thread: Fire Resistant Bedding
06-18-2003, 12:12 AM #1
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06-19-2003, 01:52 PM #2
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