Low margins and high quality make for a winning combination
■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
Having never interviewed anyone connected with mattress sales, I had no idea what to expect when I pulled my car into a parking slot in front of Mattress Brothers at 3027 W. Florida Ave. in Hemet. A lovely lady who might have been best described as America’s Mother came from behind a counter to greet me. Kindly and soft spoken, one would never picture her as any kind of salesperson, but beneath her quietly-soft veneer there came forth a woman with determination and ability beyond the facade.
Barbara McCutchen’s persona belies a woman who is a world traveler with the knowledge of a Roman sage. I wanted to know as much about her as I did the product she represents. How did she become manager and chief representative of a product so universally essential to the comfort and welfare of folks on an every-night visit into dreamland?
“Well,” she said, “my grandson is a seventh generation Californian. We are from Northern California. My late husband’s ancestors came with the Donner Party in covered wagons to California.”
Sounds like solid stock to me.
Mattress Brothers Mattress is a family-owned business founded by brothers Glenn and James Manley who worked for other mattress stores. James says, “We decided we could do what our employer was doing and do it better. So, we went into business for ourselves.
Everyone needs the best possible mattress at an affordable price. We work on low margins and high quality for our customers.”
Their policy is to treat all customers as friends and neighbors, “doing our best to fill their individual needs.”
“We have come a long way from the days of coiled wire springs and cotton stuffed mattresses that existed in days of yore. Not one size nor degree of soft or firm mattress fills every personal need these days.”
James adds, “We specialize in Maxim Custom Mattresses, which were once sold only to high-end Las Vegas and other quality hotels. When the Maxim company decided to start selling to the retail market, they sought us out. After some consideration, we accepted and became the only retail outlet in this area for Maxim mattresses. The Maxim Mattress is a high-grade product produced at their factory here in Commerce.”
They pride themselves on the knowledge that Maxim Mattresses are 95 percent American made with only 5 percent of the foam coming from China that is processed in California.
Barbara’s background would seem to qualify her for anything but manager of a retail mattress store. Don’t be fooled. This motherly lady is as sharp as a tack. She and her late husband spent many years in Honduras in both construction and missionary work.
They had construction branches in the Philippines and Antigua as well. They later did disaster work in Florida following Hurricane Andrew. She said she would like to visit Africa someday and I wouldn’t be surprised if she found some daring venture on the dark continent to further some humanitarian effort.
After their last six years in Honduras, with her husband’s health failing, they returned to the United States where her husband passed away, leaving her widowed. Her daughter, who managed a Banner Mattress Store, encouraged Barbara to seek employment.
“Mom, you’re alone. You have to go to work.” Having lived out of the country for such a long time, Barbara wasn’t certain what to do. “Things had changed so much in the states,” she says, “I had to get adjusted to the change.”
Her daughter had worked at one time with James Manley who operated a Mattress Brothers Mattress store in Moreno Valley. As a consequence, her daughter introduced her to Mr. Manley about a job. He said, “I’ll get back to you after I talk it over with my brother Glenn, who operates our Redlands store.”
Barbara McCutchen is not one who dilly dallies about things. She said, “Mr. Manley, I’m not coming back. It is either yes or no right now.” He agreed to “now,” – not later. “I first went to work two or three days a week and then, as the business grew, it became seven days a week.” She now presides as manager of the Hemet Mattress Brothers store six days a week.
I left Barbara’s store with a sense of renewed energy, thinking that those Maxim mattresses sure did invite an afternoon nap! All that sleep-inducing ambiance was quite soothing. I’m wondering if you might not get the same feeling from a similar experience.
Lots to gain, nothing to lose.