4 CEOs make ‘People to Watch’ list based on high-profile moves | Sheila Long O’Mara

Welcome to this year’s People to Watch issue, in which our editorial team takes a look at 20 industry leaders the team selected as folks that warranted watching. I realize that sounds a bit stalkerish, but we chose them based on moves they and their companies are making and the news cycle in which they move.

From the bedding arena, we tapped four executives. That’s not to say there aren’t more than four key executives in the category that could easily find themselves on the list, but the selected ones take the cake this year because of the high-profile moves they are making and will continue to make into 2024.

If the editors of the New York Times game portfolio were paying attention, they could easily pull these four leaders into its latest game Connections and create a foursome under the topic of Bedding Executives involved in Acquisitions. (Sidenote: If you’re lost on the Connections reference, do a quick Google search for NYTimes and Connections and you’ll understand. Try it and let me know how you fare.)

Back to the four bedding execs to watch.

All of them are currently engaged in either a major acquisition in the industry or have already taken part in one or more acquisitions and are working to integrate those purchases into existing operations.

John Merwin, CEO of 3Z Brands, has had an interesting year gobbling up companies and adding them to the growing family of mattress brands. The first new brand the company bought was Bear Mattress in July 2022. That was followed by the acquisition of Nolah in February and Leesa in March. Merwin has said he’s open to more acquisitions to fill up the 648,165-square-foot vertically integrated facility that started pouring its own foam this summer.

Sleep Country Canada, under Stewart Schaefer’s leadership as president and CEO, acquired the Canadian operations of one of the industry’s most well-known consumer bedding brands, Casper Sleep, earlier this year. In addition, the retailer has acquired Silk & Snow and Hush, adding to its product mix and its consumer-facing digital footprint, a key focus for Schaefer as he guides the retailer to meet consumers wherever they are on their journey to purchase.

The industry’s deal of the century landed the two other key executives on our list of those to watch. John Eck, president and CEO of Houston-based Mattress Firm, and Scott Thompson, chairman, CEO and president of Tempur Sealy International, are forging ahead with TSI’s announced acquisition of Mattress Firm set to close during the second half of next year.

The TSI and Mattress Firm teams, under the leadership of Eck and Thompson, are navigating through requests from the Federal Trade Commission, as well as crafting a strategy under which the largest manufacturer in the category owns and operates the largest retailer in the category.

Our team has said it a number of times before that during turbulent times, mergers and acquisitions become more and more likely. As we move forward with our list to watch, I can’t help but wonder where the next big deal lies.

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