Doing Good: The Bedding Business Makes a Social Impact

Turns out that looking beyond the bottom line actually improves the bottom line.

By Andrea Pisani Babich

On a late summer night this year, Sam Malouf, CEO and founder of his eponymous bedding company, will accept a textile industry honor for his efforts to end child sex trafficking and enriching the lives of his employees. To mark its 40th anniversary, Home Textiles Today, which calls itself “The Wall Street Journal of the home textiles industry,” will host its inaugural Trailblazers & Titans gala awards program. The gala recognizes the work of home goods industry luminaries who redefine how business is done and exemplify a new way forward.

So, what do these new business models look like? Well, in Sam Malouf’s case, it means working towards his goal to “treat our people so well they treat our customers well.” That simple business philosophy translates to

  • Free gourmet lunches for employees
  • Paid maternity leave
  • Company-paid insurance premiums
  • A professional development program
Socially Responsible Malouf Foundation founders Sam and Kacie

Social Responsibility of the Malouf Foundation

Malouf’s generosity extends beyond the Malouf family of workers. The Malouf Foundation sprang from a decades-long commitment by Sam and his wife Kacie to improve the lives of people in need by donating premium bedding products to women’s shelters, safe houses, foster care families, and community events.

One year after its creation, the Malouf Foundation identified its primary mission to fight child sex trafficking and exploitation. They contribute by funding rescue missions, providing bedding supplies to aftercare centers for child survivors, and offering educational and employment opportunities to help survivors start new lives.

Malouf’s motivation for prioritizing his employees and rescuing exploited children is probably not concern for his bottom line. However, he, like many other CEOs, is discovering that it’s good business to be a good business for your employees and for society at large.

In just 16 years, his Utah-based company has emerged as one of the fastest growing suppliers of bed sheets, pillows, mattress pads, bed frames, and mattress toppers. All are available online as well as in traditional retail stores in over 22 countries; they have plans to expand into more than 60 more countries this year.

By adopting a business model of “doing good business by doing good,” Malouf has risen to #8 on Glassdoor’s 2019 Best Places to Work as well as a boatload of other accolades including

  • Top CEO of Small & Medium Businesses, #23, Glassdoor, 2018
  • EY Entrepreneur of the Year Utah Region 2017 Award, EY Entrepreneur of the Year®, 2017
  • Entrepreneur360 List #26, Entrepreneur Magazine, 2017
  • Inc. Best Place to Work 2018, Inc. Magazine, 2018

Good Businesses Doing Good Is Trending

Sam Malouf is not the first CEO to found a socially responsible mattress company. When the first direct-to-consumer (DTC) memory foam mattress company was launched in 2016, Bed in a Box founder, Bill Bradley, knew he needed to rehabilitate the ethos of the bedding industry. Consumers were fed up with shady sales people, high prices, and deceptive business practices that they found in many bricks and mortar stores.

DTC companies set out to disrupt the bedding industry, and that included burnishing their image—adopting a social consciousness was just part of the effort. Improved customer service, competitive and transparent pricing, convenience and giving back to communities has helped online mattress companies win back consumer’s hearts, minds, and ultimately their money. That’s good business.

Radio host and author Jesse Torres describes today’s business climate this way: “Today, in order to maximize profits, businesses must consider a social responsibility strategy. Consumers expect more of the business community. Through social media, consumers have the tools and the power to reward the good and punish the bad.”

The DTC mattress companies that followed in the footsteps of Bed in a Box made social responsibility part of their mission statements. Many do their part to make the world a better place and give back by improving the lives of people in need as well as safeguarding the planet. By recycling returned mattresses or donating them to local non-profit organizations, mattress companies keep their pre-owned beds out of landfills and in places where people in need can really use them.

Many companies go much further than that with their social mission. Here are a few examples:

  • Tuft & Needle: Through their School Fundraising Program, schools can earn 25% of the proceeds from T&N mattresses sold to parents, teachers, families, and friends of students.
  • Leesa: As a certified B Corporation, Leesa meets the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. The company also offers paid time off to staff who volunteer at local food banks, shelters, and charities.
  • Casper: Employees are supported in their efforts to improve their world by volunteering at non-profit organizations like Start Small Think Big and Women in Need.
  • Amerisleep: This company understands environmental responsibility, and uses sustainable production methods that produce zero emissions.
  • Zenhaven: The Talalay latex used to make their mattresses is safely harvested from rubber trees without harming them. That’s good news for trees that can produce latex for up to 25 years and absorb millions of tons of carbon dioxide as they grow. No greenhouse gases are produced in the process of transforming natural liquid latex into Talalay.

We Salute Good Businesses

Social responsibility is so important to consumers, and therefore businesses, that every Mattress Advisor Review includes a Social Impact Score. This score measures a company’s social mission, community involvement, and charitable giving and partnerships.

We recognize the tremendous potential of businesses to make positive changes in our world. The fact that this mission turns out to be good for their bottom lines is a happy and self-sustaining bonus. Congratulations to Sam Malouf and all CEOs who have made it their mission to pay it forward and to protect the most vulnerable people in their communities.


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