The history of Tempur-Pedic International, Inc. started with space-aged technology in their Tempur-Pedic mattress!
In the 1960’s, NASA’s Ames Research Center developed a material they called ‘Temper Foam.’ To be specific, a viscoelastic foam material whose purpose was to give a firm yet adaptable and comfortable padding material for astronaut and pilot seats. Temper Foam could evenly distribute a person’s body weight and conform to their curves. Even increase survive-ability of a passenger or a pilot in a crash.
This was all thanks to the high-density viscoelastic cells in the foam, giving the foam its ‘memory.‘ These memory cells were great for absorbing impacts. Therefore, the material became popular to use in seating cushions, sports equipment, medical equipment and more. Though somewhat difficult to produce and depended on particular environmental factors to work properly.
By the 1980’s, NASA put the formula for Temper Foam in the public domain. That way, any company who wanted to could use, improve and experiment with the Temper Foam formula as they saw fit.
And that was where Tempur-Pedic came into play.
BECOMING A MATTRESS
Tempur-Pedic starts with by Robert Trussell, the founder. A Kentucky entrepreneur, and horse-racing enthusiast. Through his connections in the European horse-racing community, he heard of a Swedish company who successfully turned Temper Foam into a workable mattress material. The company was Fagerdala, and they were first to create the Tempur-Pedic Swedish Mattress.
The space-age memory foam mattress sold well in Sweden. But Robert Trussell wanted more and bought the licensing rights to sell it in America. He founded Tempur-Pedic Inc. in 1992. By 1995, the Tempur-Pedic mattress generated $6.5 million annually in sales, thanks to their line of mattress furniture, memory foam pillows, and bedding products, such as the memory foam mattress topper.
Afterward, in 1999, Tempur-Pedic merged with several distributors and Fagerdala’s Dan-Foam branch to create the sweeping Tempur World. By the 2000’s Tempur-Pedic was one of the biggest brand-name mattress stores, but their growth was not done. Forbes goes into great detail of how and why in 2012, Tempur-Pedic bought Sealy Corporation to become “the world’s largest bedding company,” or Tempur Sealy International.
Tempur-Pedic managed quite a few innovations, and it wasn’t only in their space-age memory foam mattress material.
Marketing strategies for the company were very successful. Early advertising promoted the Tempur-Pedic mattress NASA-inspired origins. In particular, advertising the ‘weightless’ feeling of sleeping on their beds, and the Swedish scientists who perfected the Tempur material. This gave Tempur-Pedic products an exotic, high-tech image. For example, commercials show off the mattresses’ ability to absorb movement, such as standing a wineglass on the mattress while a person jumped up and down on it without spilling the glass. In 2002, they gave away vouchers for free mattresses to celebrities at the Academy Awards.
One example of their biggest moments of success came in 1996 with their offshoot, Tempur-Medical Inc. Seeing an opportunity in the hospital and nursing home industry, Tempur-Medical offered their memory foam mattresses. They chose to promote their comfort and a recent study that found their mattresses lowered the instances of bedsores by as little as 1 percent. In fact, through savvy lobbying and deals with nursing homes and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP, Inc.), the mattresses gained 25% of the hospital and nursing home mattress market.
From NASA experiment to one of the largest mattress companies in the world. Tempur-Pedic has come a long way thanks to innovative materials and marketing.