FANWOOD, NJ — Ron Shovlin owns Shovlin Mattress Factory with his wife, Kara. The shop relocated from Garwood to Fanwood several years ago. Located at 35 South Ave., the building doubles as a 2,000 sq. ft. showroom and a manufacturing center in the back. The company employs seven people and ships products across the globe.
“Shovlin Mattress is a fine example, in our own backyard, of a family business that produces a good, quality American-made product,” said Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr.
Shovlin, a 6-foot, 7-inch former star athlete for Westfield High School, lists many of his former Scotch Plains-Fanwood rivals as friends and customers. This week, he gave an exclusive tour through his factory to TAP into and showed the process of making a mattress and different mattress shapes and talked about how important it is to choose quality over price.
Q: How did you get into the mattress business?
A: This is a family business. My mother started working for the Mattress Factory in Garwood during the late 70s. I was helping out since the age of 13, and started working full-time after graduating from Elon College. In 1989, after my father—a Westfield policeman—retired, we bought the business. Eventually, we relocated to our 2,000-foot showroom in Fanwood, where we also produce our products.
Q: What is special about your business?
A: We have our very own factory and make the mattresses right here in Fanwood. We sell only our mattresses, not other brands. Apart from one-sided mattress, we make two-sided ones that can be flipped over and have more support and longevity. This sets us apart from national brands that don't produce flippable mattresses because of the costs … and because they want the customer to buy a mattress more often. Also, all of our production materials are bought in America. We are proud of this.
Q: What is important to you when it comes to customer service?
A: We like to use the term “beducation.” We want our customers to take their time and have a personal conversation to give them the mattress that suits their needs the best. Chiropractors send people to us sometimes because their patients’ mattresses are not right for them. A soft mattress has enough support to bring the body in its natural position at night and people think they have to buy very firm mattresses, which is not true. The right mattress is whatever is comfortable for your body.
Honesty is very important to us. There is no pressure—we don't want our customers to make mistakes. We invite them to bring a pillow in and lie down and to comparison shop. Once you shop here at Shovlin, you will always want to come back. You will have a mattress for so many years—and you spend so much time in bed—that you should be looking for long-term quality, not for the lowest price.
Q: What are some tips for buying a mattress?
- Prepare to shop lying down – Wear comfortable clothes and shoes you can remove easily. You will need to do some lying down. If you will share the mattress, bring your partner with you to get a realistic feel for size and comfort.
- Redefine Firm – A mattress need not be as hard as the floor in order to be good. Too firm may be painful. Today’s mattress combines comfort and support. Don’t rely on product labels, feel the firmness and be the judge.
- Check inside – Inside an inner spring mattress there should be more than 300 coils for a full size model (375 in a queen and 450 in a king). Keep in mind, the high coil count doesn’t automatically make it better.
- Upsize – If you sleep with a partner don’t get anything smaller than a queen.
- Don’t mix and match – Avoid putting a new mattress on an old box spring. A set is made to work together, using them together will prolong the life of the bed.
- Invest in top quality – You will be spending three of the next 10 years in bed, so buy the best your budget will allow. When you consider the cost over a 10+ year life span, you’ll find that even the very best beds cost less each night than a cup of coffee.
Q: What else but mattresses do you offer?
A: We have pillows, slippers etc. and we call it the Nod Shoppe. My wife is more responsible for that.
Q: Where will you ship?
A: Not only do we ship nationally, but we have shipped to Europe and also to Africa, where a prince wanted a round mattress. For a furniture store in Russia, we shipped more than 100 mattresses in a container. People who move or who have beach houses out of the country call us or contact us online if they have heard from us. We normally recommend feeling the mattresses before ordering them. What might feel firm or soft to us might not feel firm or soft to you. It is very individual.
Q: Do you make customized shapes?
A: Yes, basically you name it we made it. We have made heart-shaped mattresses, boat-shaped mattresses and round mattresses. The largest was a 10-foot by 10-foot mattress for a couple who had three dogs who liked to sleep with them. We make them for private use or for furniture stores and hotels.
Q: What kinds of struggles are there in the mattress business?
A: Regulations add production costs. After the government introduced higher standards for fire-resistant mattresses, production costs increased by 15 to 20 percent. Some other local businesses couldn't afford that and had to close down. During the financial crisis we felt the effects, as well, but we fared better than most.
Q: How are you involved in the community?
A: We have participated in the Pajama Program in which people donated pajamas for children in need. The cause made sense because of what we do. We also helped people who were affected by Hurricane Sandy by offering discounts on our products and using our trucks to help with deliveries. We try to help people who have lost their homes in fires and other tragedies. The cost of a mattress is small compared to seeing the look on a child’s face when they learn that they will have a bed to sleep in.
- Open Monday – Friday (10 – 6)
- Thursday (10 – 8)
- Saturday (10 – 5)
- Sunday (12 – 5)