Mattress maker going strong after 100 years in Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - Sleepmaster Mattress and its parent company, WJ Southard think they’ve come as close as anybody to figuring out how to give you a good night’s sleep.

Their top quality mattresses are sold around the country are made right here in Central New York.

Back in 1915, the quilting machine used when WJ Southard bought the Alexander Smith rug cleaning business was a far cry from what the business is doing nowadays.

"There was a mattress maker out of work, and he needed work, so he came into the rug business knowing how to make mattresses and suggested ‘you guys should be doing mattresses at the same time,’" said Sleepmaster and WJ Southard President Charlie Van Patten.

Charlie Van Patten's uncle liked the idea and ran with it, though making mattresses has certainly changed a lot in 100 years.

"They were made with horse hair, hob hair, silk floss, cotton, wool  they would mat down so what you would do is bring them in and open them up, re-pick them, put them back together and send them out again,” Van Patten said.

Now it's about quilting and cutting, attaching the various foams, then more precise sewing so the sides seamlessly hold it all together, building a mattress from beginning to end takes about three days—with some models taking almost two weeks.

In the mattress business, this company is about the only one left in New York State that still manufactures and sells direct to the public.

The company does make private label mattresses for other companies with their specifications to use in places like motels and hotels.


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