“Once we could have sold you a mattress for $2.00,” Jim Pullan, Jr. told an audience of local business leaders recently. “It came stuffed with sea grass or horsehair with a cover woven from the same material. For $2.50 you could get it covered in softer cotton or wool. That, of course, was in 1886.”
“Today,” Pullan said with a smile,” Jamestown Mattress can do better.” Those $2.00 mattresses were made by Jamestown Mattress’s original predecessor, W. I. Blystone, doing business in the same year Jamestown, New York, was incorporated as a city on April 19, 1886, 76 years after its founding in 1810.
Just as Jamestown’s population has grown from a handful of country families in 1810 to 30,000 today, Jamestown Mattress has grown from three workers, when James Pullan, Sr. and his family took it over in 1981, to about three dozen employees today making as many as 22,000 to 26,000 mattresses each year. Unlike many manufacturers that expand, however, the family has maintained the practice of handcrafting mattresses to order by local workers and artisans rather than turning the product over to a mass production, robotic assembly line.
One “old-fashioned” idea has been retained—though the sea grass mattresses are gone—in the interest of a longer lasting product and customer economy. Many mass production companies have begun making only single sided mattresses. Jamestown Mattress, however, still makes a more resilient, plush two sided mattress. That allows a homeowner to flip the mattress over and possibly get twice as many years of comfort from a high quality mattress.
“After all, we’re selling our mattresses to our friends and neighbors in our community,” Pullan said. “We want them to be as proud of our product as we are.”
“I was a local boy with a local education,” Pullan said. “I went on to earn an Associate Degree from Jamestown Community College and a Bachelor in Computer Science from Rochester Institute of Technology” Jim came back home to work for SKF for 20 years as the Manager of Systems Support, then as VP of Operations at Jamestown Mattress.
With the U.S. Census reporting fewer than 14,000 households in Jamestown, clearly Jamestown Mattress products must reach markets far beyond Jamestown. “We private-label mattresses for sale, for instance, by Our House Furniture of Cleveland, Ohio,” Pullan explained, “for sale in 50 Our House Furniture Stores across the country.” In addition to those and many other large scale retailers, Jamestown Mattress is also a major supplier for local organizations including Lutheran Social Services, The Heritage Group of care facilities, local colleges and hotels.
“Forty five percent of our mattresses are sold for the nationwide wholesale market, but that means more than half of our output is sold in our own Jamestown Mattress showroom stores,” Pullan said. Currently, in addition to the main factory in Jamestown, there are nine stores in New York and Pennsylvania, with the 9th and most recent outlet just opened in Lockport, New York.
“We think the Buffalo area is the best, next place for the Jamestown name to become known for quality and service,” Pullan said.
Pullan offered a consumer’s money saving tip applicable to many other products as well as to Jamestown Mattresses. “Did you know,” Pullan asks, “that when you buy a mattress, or anything else, from a retail store, that product is actually being sold for the second time?” Consumers can almost always save a retailer’s markup by purchasing a product directly from its manufacturer, as in the Jamestown Mattress Showroom stores; it’s called Factory Direct Pricing.
“We’ve made mattresses of any kind a customer can dream up,” Pullan said. “We’ve made round mattresses and square mattresses, special sized mattresses for RVs and boats, mattresses with rounded tops and bottoms, and even very special dog bed mattresses for the family’s best friend. The 80 to 100 mattresses we turn out every day are all hand crafted, so we can make just about anything to order for any individual need.”
“One thing that is very important to us is to purchase as many of our raw materials as possible from local manufacturers and suppliers or from U.S. manufacturers if we can’t get it closer to home. We are a part of this community and we believe in keeping it strong. At the present time, just about the only exception is natural latex which we buy in Sri Lanka.
“Jamestown is also a great place to raise a family,” Pullan said. “Three generations of us have lived here and we love the city. We also share a passion for the business we’ve grown here for 31 years. The third generation of Pullans, Aaron, the 22-year-old son of James Pullan and his wife, Pam, is currently working his way up through most of the labor positions in the main plant, learning the whole business “from the bottom up.”
The Pullans and their two grown children are active members of the community. Jim engages his special interest in youth education, for instance, as a member of the Board of Directors of Chautauqua Striders where he serves as a member of the Track Committee and the Finance Committee.
To learn more about this one of the many local, successful family owned businesses and to find the nearest showroom, log on to http://www.jamestownmattress.com/, call 716-665-2247 or accept Jim Pullan’s invitation to visit the factory to see every step in the manufacturing process (a great home school outing?) at 150 Blackstone Avenue, Jamestown, New York 14701.