David Perry — Furniture Today – 08/03/11
The logo tells an impressive story of longevity: “Boyd Specialty Sleep. Since 1977.”
That logo is embroidered on Denny Boyd’s dress shirt this day as he sits down here to tell the story of his company, one that started as a waterbed retailer in 1977 back in the salad days of that category, and then morphed into a full-line specialty sleep retailer and producer in the decades that followed.
Now Boyd Specialty Sleep covers the gamut of specialty sleep products. Yes, waterbeds are still part of the mix, but the company long ago adapted to a changing bedding marketplace, introducing the latex and memory foam beds that are the big stars in the lineup these days.
Boyd Specialty Sleep has thrived under its founder’s focused, analytical approach to the business. The producer, which manufactures here and in Los Angeles and imports some products from China, remains a shining star in the specialty sleep pantheon. The company doesn’t attract the attention of some of its flashier competitors, but Boyd Specialty Sleep has a rock-solid business, selling an impressive roster of dealers that includes Wal-Mart, Target, Sam’s Club, Sears, QVC, Shop NBC, HSN, Overstock.com, American Furniture Warehouse of Englewood, Colo., and Jordan’s Furniture of Avon, Mass. The company is growing at a 25% clip and its sales are close to $60 million, officials say.
The architect of this success story is based in the Show Me state. Denny Boyd, once a teammate of legendary swimmer Mark Spitz, came to Missouri to swim for the University of Missouri. He did well in the pool but even better in the classroom, where he studied marketing in the business school. Now he’s showing the industry how to remain vibrant in a dynamic market.
Boyd still retains the better sleep passion that the old waterbed pioneers originally brought to their category. But, like a handful of survivors from those days, he separated himself from the waterbed pack by bringing strong marketing and organizational skills to his company and broadening his sales base to reach more traditional bedding consumers.
Today, Denny Boyd oversees a diverse business empire that includes four business units. He’s an innovator, holding more than 30 patents for mattress designs. “We are looking for new ideas all the time,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.” One of his key new ideas these days is the realization that the Internet is going to change business models in the years to come. Boyd has upgraded its line so that all of its products can be shipped via UPS. Products are in-stock and ready for same-day shipping, with delivery within three days. “We don’t have to build plants all across the country to get our products to our dealers,” Boyd said. He says that gives Boyd’s 850 dealers a big advantage: “Any retailer can be a national player,” offering its customers a wide variety of specialty sleep products.
Recognizing that consumer behavior is changing in the Internet age, he’s developing e-commerce sites for all of his product lines. He cites research showing that 61% of consumers shopping for mattresses will use the Internet for research or to buy. No bedding company can ignore those facts, he reasons. “It is critical for manufacturers and retailers to have an online presence and to drive traffic to their site through search engine optimization and search engine marketing,” he said.
But some things don’t change at Boyd Specialty Sleep. Perhaps it was too much to think that Boyd would produce innerspring beds – “dead beds,” in the parlance of the old waterbed gang – but his company does make all types of specialty sleep products. “We are very tied to specialty sleep,” Boyd said. “I believe there is plenty of growth in that category.” Boyd is one of the few producers to offer the full spectrum of specialty sleep products, including air beds, foam beds (both memory foam and latex) and waterbeds and waterbed accessories in the Blue Magic line. The company also offers adjustable and platform bases, as well as “express beds” (guest air mattresses).
Boyd also has a strong sleep accessories program, and offers its retailers its unique Sleep Metrics program, a diagnostic selling system tied to a number of its specialty sleep lines. That system brings a scientific approach to the shopping experience, streamlines the process for consumers and retail sales associates, and boosts consumers’ confidence that they are making good bedding choices. It also helps close more mattress sales, Boyd said. The system is proving its worth on the sales floors of Boyd’s bedroom stores, all in the St. Louis market. He said that operating the stores gives Boyd Specialty Sleep an advantage – “We are a manufacturer that understands retail,” he said. The Sleep Metrics program is available to all of Boyd’s dealers, and the company also provides a full range of in-store marketing materials.
After all, Boyd Specialty Sleep has been honing its retail skills since 1977. That’s a very long time in the fast-changing world of retail, one the company has navigated flawlessly with the sure hands of Denny Boyd at the helm.