WRIGHT TWP. – A latex foam plant in the Crestwood Industrial Park has changed its business model and its name and has started hiring new employees with an eye toward doubling its staff in the next three years.
The news wasn't so upbeat last year when the then-Sealy Components Group plant laid off nearly a fifth of its workforce as sales tumbled in a down economy.
But a company strategy emerged to turn things around at the plant -- the only manufacturer of continuous process latex cores in North America – and that started with a new name and a decision to sell its products to other bedding companies.
Mountain Top Foam was born in January and the company's new direction has worked, said Dan Hige, the plant's vice president for latex sales and manufacturing.
Hige said the company has utilized only one of its two production lines over the past year but is hiring to be able to run both lines 24 hours a day. The plant employed 57 last year and expects to be at 80 employees within the next month to meet the growing demand created since the company began selling its materials to mattress industry players both domestic and international.
Some of the key manufacturers serviced through Mountain Top Foam are Sealy Mattress, Restonic, Englander, Southerland, Kingsdown, White Cross, Corsicana, Sleep Inc., several Therapedic licensees and others including Kolatech in South Korea. The Korean branded product is named USpedic and is quickly growing in popularity in overseas markets, Hige said. So much so that the Korean company recently sent a video crew to the United States to feature Mountain Top Foam's products. The videos are being produced to be aired on Korean television.
The decision to sell the products to some of Sealy's competitors, not the name change, has been the key factor in spurring sales, Hige said, but changing the name was an important step to making that happen.
They didn't want to purchase from Sealy, a competitor. They wanted to purchase (the material) from another company, Hige said.
With 73 employees on the payroll now, Hige said I can easily see us doubling our employment number over the next two to three years. The demand is certainly out there.
He said Sealy relied heavily on the plant but its capabilities go far beyond what Sealy ever needed in latex.
The plant, which has been open for nearly six years, has the ability to make other bedding products, including pillows, but it hasn't yet done so.
The company has begun offering four new types of latex products that have helped increase sales: super soft latex; slow release latex; gel latex and a temperature sensitive latex.