As a century-old, fourth-generation company, White Dove Mattress is a rarity. Very few companies overall — some estimates suggest less than 1% — make it to their 100th birthday, and only 3% of family-owned businesses are operating at the fourth-generation level.
What makes the Newburgh Heights manufacturer’s story more compelling, however, is that it is not only surviving but thriving in a highly concentrated and increasingly competitive market.
White Dove CEO Bruce Goodman said a handful of familiar brands, including Serta, Sealy, Simmons and Tempur-Pedic, dominate just over 80% of the U.S. mattress industry, which market watchers peg at around $17.3 billion.
That leaves less than 20% for the “couple of hundred” smaller players, he added, including fast-growing bed-in-box online retailers.
“Still, we’ve grown pretty significantly in the last three or four years,” Goodman said. “Probably a good 50%-60% (revenue growth), and we’ve done it with rising raw material and labor costs.”
Goodman’s great-grandfather, H. Goodman, and grandfather founded the mattress maker in 1922. Both men were working at a regional Sealy plant when they left to form their own business.
Located early on at East 131st Street in Cleveland, White Dove came into prominence in the 1940s and ’50s by putting a layer of body-forming foam cushion on one side of its innerspring mattresses.
“We were one of the first, if not quite possibly the first, manufacturers in the country that made a one-sided mattress at a time when everybody was making two-sided,” Goodman said.
The company moved into its current 200,000-squaree-foot Harvard Avenue factory — formerly a warehouse for the Higbee department store — in the 1980s, and Goodman took over the business from his father, Henry, in 1996. He immediately ushered in “a growth spurt,” the CEO said, by purchasing “a couple” of regional operators and consolidating production at the Newburgh site.
The more recent business boom can be attributed in part to a 2017 rebrand that refocused the company on quality, according to Goodman.
“As opposed to trying to be everything to everybody and all different types of mattress products and all different types of price points, we’ve sort of focused in on that upper- to middle-price-range, premium-quality product,” he explained.
Goodman said White Dove uses top-of-the line materials in its collections, which include the Duality, Cambridge and Atlas mattress brands, even springing for expensive high-density foams that “just don’t fit the economics” of lower-cost, national labels.
Those premium foams nearly eliminate the most pervasive issue in mattress durability — body impressions created by users sleeping in the same spot night after night.
“We have a 15-year warranty, and it kicks in with a 0.5-inch body impression,” he said. “The industry standard is 10 years, and no warranty by the major brands kicks in until a 1.5-inch impression. So, we warranty it for 50% longer with one-third of the body-impression size required to trigger the warranty, because we are that confident with the product.”
The company is also one of the few manufacturers still hand tufting, which it does with 70%-75% of its products, Goodman said, as it helps preserve mattress stability over time.