The Story of Douglas Endy & Simmons Casper! Though Omni Mattress™ are experts in the in the memory foam mattress scene, we can trace our origins back to the values of the old world, and the people who arrived into Canada in the early 1900’s to turn their dreams into reality. An aspiring pair of immigrant entrepreneurs, well-versed in the furniture and mattress industry, took their mattress making skill-set and created a Canada made mattress.
You could say reinvention of an orthopedic mattress was in their blood, just as it is with us today.
That is why Omni Mattress™ is proud to introduce our spiritual founders and gurus of the bedding and mattress industry. Two men, meeting by chance at a Canadian mattress store, and risking it all in foreign lands, would inspire us to take on the need for an affordable made in Canada mattress.
We bring to you Mr. Douglas Endy, and his cousin and partner, Mr. Simmons Casper.
Douglas Endy: The Matress Maker from Kingsdown
Before we get into the mattress partnership we have to know about the men behind the innovation, and we’ll start with the dapper English gentleman with a gift for the mattress business. Who is Douglas Endy? Where is Kingsdown? And what turned Douglas Endy into the man we refer to the Matress Maven? It all starts with his childhood.
Douglas Endy was born on June 12th, 1905, in the Kingsdown neighbourhood of Bristol, in the UK. He was born to a mixed family. His father, Ethan Allen Endy, had English roots dating back to Anglo-Saxon times. His mother was Leesa Endy, a Jewish/Portuguese immigrant from the village of Serta. While his mother worked hard cleaning houses for more affluent families, Douglas’s father worked in a local mattress warehouse. He learned the values of hard work from his parents, helping his mother clean houses and learning tuft and needle sewing techniques from his father. When his father went to war and his mother worked in a local munitions factory, Douglas Endy helped take care of his younger siblings, shined shoes, and collected scrap metal for the war effort. He dropped out of school to work at the same mattress warehouse as his father, learning the ins and outs of the affordable mattress business from his father and the factory manager, who saw potential in the young man. Douglas Endy moved up from sewing custom mattresses to being the assistant manager, until the Great Depression closed the mattress factory for good.
With nowhere else to go and no prospects left in the economically depressed port city, Douglas Endy took his remaining savings to start a fresh life in Canada.
The Surprise Cousin: Simmons Casper from Serta
While Douglas Endy spent his formative years in Kingsdown, his cousin would lead a similar life in the village of Serta, Portugal. Simmons Casper, born Simao Cassis in 1907, grew up in a household of furniture makers. His father built custom bedframes, and his father before him. He was one of generations of bedroom furniture craftsmen. But Simmons Casper didn’t want to be another bedroom furniture builder. He wanted to be the one selling the bedroom furniture. He set up a bedroom furniture store in his hometown of Serta, with dreams of selling hand-crafted furniture and cheap mattresses from his town to America and Canada.
The roaring ‘20s made selling bedroom furniture and cheap mattresses overseas a lucrative one. Believing style and function would win over customers, saw potential in art deco furniture. The new style was extremely popular in his mattress store, attributing to his early success.
But sadly, his fortunes would fall as The Great Depression left people in Serta out of work and unable to buy his furniture and mattresses. Not even a cheap mattress or affordable one. He closed his furniture store and sold the building before he went broke.
His dream of making a name for himself overseas took a different turn. He bought a ticket on a tramp steamer and headed to Canada.
Cousins Turned Partners
Upon their arrival into Canada, Douglas Endy and Simmons Casper sought a fresh start in the new mattress world. 1932 Toronto, during the height of the Great Depression, was not an easy place to make a living with a mattress store. Douglas Endy and Simmons Casper took odd manual labour jobs making mattresses until they both ended up in the same mattress factory. It was on the mattress assembly line where the two meet and became fast friends.
Simmons notes later in life, “We wouldn’t have given each other a second glance had we not talked about our families. Douglas would talk about his folks in Kingsdown, about how his father married a Portuguese woman and when he said her name I said, ‘Wait, that sounds like Aunt Leesa!’. Turns out we had a family connection we didn’t know existed! Without that connection we wouldn’t have become friends, and without our friendship everything else wouldn’t have fallen in place.”
Their friendship grew, and their lives intertwined. They worked at the same mattress factory. They both meet their future wives on the same double date (both named Ashley!). The Great Depression left everyone’s lives shaky. Having experienced job loss before, and knowing their mattress factory could go under, the two cousins followed their own path. They planned to go into the mattress business for themselves. With what they learned over the years and the connections they made in the matress industry, Douglas Endy and Simmons Casper resolved to open their own mattress stores for themselves. They would partner up and start their own discount mattress outlet, the Endy & Casper Mattress Company which would specialize in affordable mattresses made in Canada.
Bringing Old World Traditions to the New World
A mattress outlet store sounds risky during the Depression, but Endy and Casper learned from their past, and didn’t go into the new joint venture without a plan. Or in this case, a payment plan for mattresses allowed mattress customers to buy now and pay later.
‘I remember Sims talking about the entrepreneurial side of the mattress business.’ Douglas Endy recalled, ‘And though he was one of the most forward-thinking men I knew, he drew inspiration from the old world. We both did, in our own way. While I looked towards old-world matress craftsmanship to ensure the quality of the mattresses we sold, Sims saw potential in the payment arrangements and handshake deals done for generations in his home village of Serta. Give the customer a chance, show them trust by trusting them, and they stay loyal to you for life. That’s how our first lease to own, rent to own mattress deals came to be.’
Armed with a business plan and their life savings, the mattress partners set up their discount mattress warehouse in 1935. Knowing plenty of immigrants off the boat, and rural families flooding into the cities from the dust bowl, the partners reasoned there was not a lot of money to go around. People who lost everything couldn’t get loan with bad credit! Still, every family needed mattresses and bedroom furniture to make a home, and most important of all, they needed the best bed to sleep on! What were families to do to get essential mattresses when they came to Toronto with literally the clothes on their back?
Ever the showman, and knowing six distinct languages, Simmons Casper would travel through immigrant districts in Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, introducing himself personally, and offering his best mattresses directly to the people who needed them. Couldn’t read English? Simmons carried mini-catalogue of the latest mattress sale in Italian, Yiddish, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. No money? No problem! Mr. Casper introduced a buy now pay later mattress payment plan where he would break up the price into bi-weekly instalments. By breaking it up into affordable mattress payments, his impoverished customers could afford a quality mattress with their own affordable mattress financing program.
It also helped Simmons loved showing a little panache in his advertising. Simmons Casper’s charm, and a little modelling help from Ashley Casper and Ashley Endy, grabbed a lot of attention, while Douglas Endy, using his experience from the mattress factory in Kingsdown, made sure operations ran smoothly.
Still, the first years were tough. Though married and too old for conscription, Endy and Casper made ends meet through the tough war years, despite material rationing. Endy & Casper’s Mattress Company gave mattress discounts and promo’s to servicemen, with furniture credit, mattress credit, and deferred payments for soldiers serving overseas, as well as helped with scrap drives and war bonds sales.
When the war was over, and the soldiers came home, Douglas and Simmons were ready for the new world of making mattresses in Canada. Soldiers flush with cash were buying homes, starting families, and bringing a new economic boom.
And they would all want a brand new mattress instead of a used mattress or an old mattress. And the mattress financing to go with it. Casper & Endy would introduce credit card mattress financing in the 1950s, and in the 1960s they rebranded their mattress financing as their financing program allowing customers to rebuild their credit using repayment history to improve their credit rating.
After years of struggling, the Endy & Casper’s mattress company would become Douglas Endy and Simmons Casper’s ultimate success story. When Casper and Endy retired in the late 1960s, they would leave behind a legacy of mattress expertise. Former Endy & Casper mattress experts would start their own mattress businesses, passing along their knowledge who would pass on their knowledge. This chain of mattress experts leads to the modern day, to Omni Mattress™.
Not to mention a lot of grateful customers who got a good night’s sleep thanks to an outstanding mattress.
Life, Success and Retirement for the Spiritual Founders
Both Douglas Endy and Simmons Casper experienced the highest highs and lowest lows in life. They attribute their matress success to adaptability, being first on a matress trend, making the most out of all they learned, and fostering a charitable community spirit no matter where they went. At all points they honestly believed that Canada was sleep country!
Endy and Casper adopted the patriotism of their newfound homeland of Canada. ‘Loyalty to a country isn’t through reciting an oath and saluting a flag,’ Douglas would quote. ‘But a sense of what opportunities a country gives to one with intelligence and a strong work ethic. Any country can claim freedom as its core value, but a real democracy proves it by staying out of the way when you make something of yourself. That builds genuine loyalty, compelling others to give back.’
Douglas became a big Toronto Maple Leafs fan. After seeing his first game at the Maple Leafs Gardens, Mr. Endy bought his first hockey stick and skates. When he saw some kids play street hockey with crude sticks and a ball, he bought hockey sticks for the kids! This started his lifelong love of hockey and charity, as he sponsored equipment and jerseys for kids in need.
A lifelong reader and enthusiast for the fantastic, Simmons was a fan of Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Buck Rogers and cheesy sci-fi cinema. He’d credit his interest in innovative bedroom furniture with an interest in futuristic looks. This would carry on with his interest in mattresses, as he was always looking for the best material for his bed. His one regret was retiring before the Apollo moon landing. He followed the NASA space program, where he learned about a brand-new material called temper foam, a predecessor to the gel-infused memory foam we use in our Omni Mattress™ today.
To Casper foam mattress technology was the future. ‘I heard of the best memory foam stuff NASA used in their pilot seats, and how companies in American and Sweden were turning it into many things, including mattresses. It’s a bigger deal than Robert Heinlein’s waterbed! If I were still in the mattress business, I would have been on it just like that! I tell the boys at the store memory foam mattresses are the future, and they better be on top of it!’
The Spiritual Founder’s Vision of Canada being Sleep Country
Before online mattress stores, before Amazon mattresses, Walmart mattresses or Costco selling mattresses online, two very different men, one an enthusiastic forward-thinker from the village of Serta, the other a calm and unruffled Englishman from Kingsdown, took their hard work and expertise to create something big. We’re not talking about their mattress store, we’re talking about their vision of things to come. Endy and Casper applied time-honored ideas and techniques to their busy while keeping their eye on the future. They brought comfortable mattresses and affordable mattress financing to the common people, evolving rent Omni to own techniques we at Omni Mattress use for our own online financing for mattresses. You could say they had the first O Powerline™ which always had guaranteed approval with bad credit!
Their respect for the past and openness to novel ideas inspire Omni Mattress™ to do what we do. Our gel-infused memory foam mattresses are exactly how Simmons Casper predicted, the ultimate in sleep comfort. Pair it with a buy now pay later Omni Mattress financing plan, anyone can buy mattress online and enjoy a good night’s sleep, even with bad credit or no credit.
We honour our spiritual founders by realizing their last vision and holding up their example of the best mattress in Canada.