Shifman Mattress Co. Celebrates 130 Years, Opens New Showroom

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Shifman Mattress Co. recently toasted its 130th anniversary and cut the ribbon on a new showroom inside its Newark, New Jersey, factory and headquarters.

From left, Josh Suresky, business development manager, Shifman Mattress Co.; Newark City Councilman Michael Silva; Shifman CEO Mike Hammer; Bill Hammer, president; and Alison Minella, marketing director, cut the ribbon on the new showroom.
From left, Josh Suresky, business development manager, Shifman Mattress Co.; Newark City Councilman Michael Silva; Shifman CEO Mike Hammer; Bill Hammer, president; and Alison Minella, marketing director, cut the ribbon on the new showroom.

About 75 employees, retailers and members of the International Furnishings and Design Association, along with media, well-wishers and local dignitaries gathered for cocktails and live music by local trio, Celestial Fusion.

Guests also enjoyed a dinner catered by The Spanish Tavern — notable because it’s where Shifman CEO Mike Hammer negotiated to buy the business 35 years ago from the Shifman family. The company was first founded in 1893 when two brothers, Abraham and Samuel Shifman, established the company committed to crafting superior bedding.

“I’m proud to consider myself the fifth generation of family leadership, following three generations of Shifman family and my father’s successful leadership for over 35 years,” said Bill Hammer, president. “I’m proud to carry on this tradition of excellence and the unique position we have in the industry.”

He credited the company’s success to a strong leadership team and thanked Phil Zucker, general manager; John Quizhpi, plant manager; Alison Minella, marketing director; James Berry, sales director; and Ana Taveras, office manager.

Hammer attributed the company’s longevity to strong relationships with retailers, some of whom in attendance have been partners with Shifman for more than 35 years, such as Ed Christiansen, owner of Brielle Furniture Interiors of Sea Girt, New Jersey.

“Brielle Furniture has had a 40-year relationship with Shifman Mattress and their fine quality products,” Christiansen said. “Their commitment to quality is bar none; their customer service is top-notch. They’re a great family-run business, and they’re a huge part of our business now. Bedding is probably about 50% of our business, and they’re our largest vendor that we carry.”

He said he sends RSAs to the factory to see how they products are made, which helps them sell the mattresses on the floor — a sentiment echoed by Mike Leibowitz, CEO of Country Willow, a luxe furniture store in Bedford Hills, New York.

Guests at the 130th anniversary event received gift bags filled with commemorative glasses and Shifman-branded M&Ms.
Guests at the 130th anniversary event received gift bags filled with commemorative glasses and Shifman-branded M&Ms.

“It’s always nice to see the customers’ expression when they lie down on a Shifman mattress because it is genuinely not like anything you’ve experienced before,” Leibowitz said. “And then when you have the behind-the-scenes opportunities like we have here, and you see the people who make it and the care that they put into it, it’s easy as a salesperson and as a business owner to pass those feelings on to consumers and to explain it.

“We send all our designers here, so they go through all the training, they see how the product is made, they get to experience the showroom here. So that gives them a chance to share their feelings the same way that I do.”

In his anniversary speech, Shifman CEO Mike Hammer stressed the quality and value of a Shifman mattress. “When you see a product like the one that we make, and you see 66 pounds of cotton being put on top and bottom of a mattress, and then hand-tufted, and then put on top of an eight-way hand-tied box spring, it’s amazing to me,” he said. “I am so proud of that product, and I’ve never seen anyone or any company make a product equal to that product.”

Earlier in the day, BedTimes saw firsthand how that product is made via a tour of the circa-1800s factory and its adjoining warehouse space. Every mattress is two-sided and meticulously made by hand, each one taking from eight to 12 hours to produce.

Perhaps the most notable area in the factory houses an antique cotton machine that makes the natural raw cotton into laps, which are then folded and stacked almost to the ceiling. Shifman prides itself in using all natural materials, such as cotton, New Zealand wool and natural latex.

Crowning the factory on the third level, mattresses line the expansive new showroom overlooking the Passaic River. Original wooden floors, raw brick and natural light create a warm, inviting ambience that complements the natural artisanry of the handcrafted beds.

Bill Hammer noted that the new showroom has been 15 years in the making since a factory expansion in 2008. And while it’s not in High Point or Las Vegas, it’s even more meaningful because it’s connected to the factory, he said.

“It’s more important than ever to be able to distinguish your product, your brand, from others, because there’s a lot of players now in the so-called luxury space,” Hammer said. “We can show people that we’re not just another brand with a story. We’re an authentic brand, with a true story. And so this showroom is a place where we can invite guests to come and to not only see product, but to see the actual workings of our factory. Going through and seeing it with your own eyes is believing.”

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BedTimes will publish a feature in the February 2024 issue highlighting suppliers and manufacturers who have been in business for 100 years, including Shifman Mattress Co.