NEWH - Winter 2011 - (Page 20)

cover story a sleeper story American Leather makes its hospitality mark By Kelly Hushin development into the product. It’s not something that’s easily replicated.” The company has also developed a version with two individual beds, each of which can be separately pulled out of one unit. “What was brought to our attention was that children don’t have to sleep in the same bed at home, so why should they on vacation?” explains Boardman. Now children can benefit from a fourinch “cootie-free zone,” as Boardman calls it. Boardman also sees international potential for this Sleeper in Islamic countries where culture and religion dictates that people can’t sleep in the same bed and that genders must always be separated. Birnbach and Boardman see this and other versions of the Sleeper in the healthcare arena and specifically in hospice centers. But the Sleeper is not the only offering from American Leather. All the company’s products—sofas, sectionals, reclines, chairs—are available in leather, fabric, or COM (customer’s own material), and according to Boardman and Birnbach, about 85 to 90 percent of hospitality customers spec their own fabric. American Leather offers six types of leathers in more than 80 colors in four weeks or less, most of which is sourced from Italy, Scandinavia, and Brazil. Aside from leather, the company makes an effort to support American manufacturers by sourcing most raw materials from within a 60-mile radius of the factory. Boardman explains that American Leather practices “cellular manufacturing.” Rather than separate processes into different facilities, all functions are completed in one place as if each line were its “own little factory.” While fabric is being cut, a frame is also being cut, and the two meet on the line to be upholstered. Advantages of this, says Boardman, are that employees can take ownership of their work, each piece has a distinguishable feel and each can be attributed back to an individual or team. While overall the company has experienced uncharacteristic growth through troubled times and has forecasted a very big year for 2012, no one is balking at the chance of hard times to come. “Every day is a different day in the hospitality market,” explains Boardman. “Some weeks it’s so busy and some weeks it’s not. We’re thankful that properties are renovating and hopefully we don’t go through a double dip. It’s scary but we have to just keep our heads.” About 11 years ago, an American company recognized the need for a sofa bed one can actually sleep on comfortably—sans heavy painkillers the morning after. That company, American Leather, has staked its claim in the hospitality industry with its proprietary, patented Comfort Sleeper, which has crushed the sofa-bed stigma and proven itself again and again as a truly comfortable (and stylish) guestroom staple. American Leather is gathering steam as it builds upon the sleeper and expands its hospitality offerings, as well as its footprint, with a move into healthcare and international markets. “We make the best sofa bed in the world,” boasts Bruce Birnbach, president. “That is our business in hospitality. We’ve scratched the surface and gotten some of the big guys to understand how important that sofa bed is for the guest experience.” Even at a premium price point, the Sleeper has helped boost overall company profits significantly over the past few years despite the recession. American Leather’s product price points are set by a high standard of manufacturing, innovation, and support (the Sleeper’s mechanism and frame carry a five-year warranty), all of which customers are willing to pay for, says Birnbach. At least 15 percent of the company’s workforce, which comprises about 350 employees, are degreed engineers. Reliability, consistency, execution, and integrity are American Leather’s core values, as Birnbach notes, and the company also prides itself on being an American manufacturer. The 250,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is based in Dallas and the company holds very little warehouse space as it does not keep stock but rather manufactures upon order at a rate of about 300 pieces per day. “We make everything from scratch,” explains Frank Boardman, director of specialty and hospitality sales. So what’s the secret to the comfortable bed? Because the product’s design is proprietary, outsiders may never fully know. What we do know is that the Sleeper offers an 80-inch long mattress (about eight inches longer than standard pullouts), has no bars or springs, and is the only pullout bed to offer Crypton mattress ticking. “It doesn’t seem all that complicated because, as all good design, it’s very streamlined and clean,” says Boardman. “But it’s a quite complicated mechanism. There’s been quite a lot of 20 winter 2011 tel 800.593.NEWH

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NEWH - Winter 2011

NEWH - Winter 2011
NEWH and chapter updates
Who’s Who
Sustainability: Point of View
Interview: Lisa Homan
Interview: Helen Reed
Cover Story
Have You Seen?
Product Know How
On the Scene
Project: Padre Hotel
Project: Hyatt Regency Rochester
Partner Profiles
Save the Date
New Members
Ad Index

NEWH - Winter 2011