A few weeks ago I visited the factory where the mattresses are made for both Lifekind and our sister company, OMI (Organic Mattresses Incorporated). I felt like Charlie going to the Chocolate Factory. I have to admit that the enthusiasm Walt has for the company he has built from the ground up is reminiscent of Willie Wonka. However, I would like to continue to be employed at Lifekind, and will therefore stop comparing my boss to a slightly deranged, socially awkward candy fanatic.
As a recent college graduate with a degree in marketing, I came into the workforce with a jaded view of the way business is done in the world. I’ve studied companies and business practices that would make the average consumer ill. I’ll never forget being told by a reputable professor of finance that financial calculations are “more of an art than a science,” then watching the financial collapse of companies “too big to fail” caused by their “artistic” financial practices; learning that perceived value is more important than actual value; that it pays to outsource labor to make a cheaper product. Please don’t get me wrong; I feel proud to hold a business degree because of the broadened horizons and knowledge it has given me. I also feel fortunate to work for a company that has gone against such misguided principles and been extremely successful because of it.
I thought about all I had learned about how to run a business and as I watched Walt explain each aspect of his immaculately clean factory and machinery, encouraging us to notice the purity of the raw materials and the quality of the stitching in the fabric. Walt was also a marketing professor for 13 years, and has run successful businesses for 40 years, so he’s no stranger to the principles of marketing; he’s just trying to run a business in accordance with his personal principles as well.
The resulting companies, Lifekind and OMI, are run in a way that limits our impact on the environment. In the entire factory there is only one traditionally sized trash can. Almost all waste from production is recycled. This was incredibly impressive to me. We also make a product that makes absolutely no compromise on quality or purity. Any cotton or wool that falls on the floor is not used, even though the floor is so clean it would put my kitchen counters to shame. Employees don’t smoke or wear fragrance and, even more importantly, they’re happy and respected.
Long story short, I came back from the factory wanting to purchase everything Lifekind has ever offered, because I have absolute faith that it’s the best available, and that makes me feel good about recommending those products to my customers.