Co-founders Ryan Baty and Mark Barrientos opened the first Mattress Hub store in 2008 in a Hutchinson, Kan., shopping mall. Back then, Mattress Hub focused on low-priced, value mattresses.

“We had a relationship with Glideaway Manufacturing to help liquidate their overstock and clearance items on consignment,” Baty recalls. “At that point in time, Glideaway was our only vendor and our goal was to only do $1,000 a day in sales so that we could make enough to pay the company’s bills and our personal expenses.”

Keeping overhead to a minimum was the No. 1 priority for Baty and Barrientos. The first Mattress Hub store had no employees – the two founders worked the store from open to close seven days a week, and did deliveries out of the back of their own trucks. “We were inexperienced and, at the time, our only plan was survival,” Baty adds. “We knew one thing though: Everyone needs a mattress. So, we kept battling and we were able to keep the doors open month after month.”

By the third quarter of 2009, Mattress Hub was a four-store retailer with an expanded vendor lineup that included Serta Mattress. But, as Baty explains, neither he nor Barrientos was pleased with the state of their business.

“Our brand had no validity, our mattress lineup was the worst in the market, we had terrible real estate inside malls, and in all honesty, we had no idea what we were doing,” he recalls. “Yet the fact that we knew there was marketshare out there continued to drive us.”

A Different Direction

With only a handful of stores, Baty and Barrientos wanted Mattress Hub to stand out among the competition. To do that, they took a passionate approach to educating customers. “We decided not to focus solely on price and comfort, but to strive to identify sleep problems and then provide solutions,” Baty explains. “Our drive was to educate the world for the best night’s sleep. And, 23 stores later, this concept continues to be the factor that sets us apart.”

As they opened new locations, Baty and Barrientos hired store managers who understood their message of quality customer service. “We sent – and still send – new employees to a three-day training seminar called the School of Sleep,” Baty says. “It’s here that I can set the tone for all new staff and teach them how we approach the business.”

In 2010, Mattress Hub had a handful of stores and increased brand awareness, but the founders still saw room for improvement – primarily in the area of marketing.

According to Baty, Mattress Hub changed from print advertising to heavy TV buys, made the tempo fast-paced and full of energy, and offered deals with flashy incentives such as TVs and iPads. “The goal was to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and offer a bold, fresh look for a customer,” he adds.

With all the change that took place at Mattress Hub in a relatively short span of time, none was as influential as the creation of the store’s mascot: Cheap Sheep. “We introduced the character into our commercials to help people identify with our brand,” Baty explains. “It was a silly, and rather cheesy guy in a sheep costume who danced around in the spots. The goal was to give customers something to identify our company with and to make a mark, which is exactly what it did.”

Getting Technical

According to Baty, the average mattress store in the United States is around 4,000 square feet. The average size of a Mattress Hub location is 6,500 square feet. “Our size allows us to showcase a variety of different bedding collections,” he adds. “We also introduced a few Mattress Hub Superstores, which are more than 15,000 square feet and showcase more than 100 mattresses.”

To keep it all coordinated – 23 stores and 71 employees – Mattress Hub recently implemented the STORIS software system. This allows inventory, point of sale and deliveries to be viewed in real time.

The company’s embrace of technology, larger stores and aggressive marketing were all part of an effort to build validity for the Mattress Hub brand. And, it is safe to say that the efforts made by Baty and Barrientos have been successful.

“We expanded to more than 20 stores across three states in just four years,” Baty adds. “We’re one of the largest Serta dealers in the region, as well as one of the largest Tempur Pedic dealers in the area. Our company has had year-over-year double-digit revenue growth since its formation and is on the path to 30 stores by the end of 2013. Ours is a great position to be in.”