In 1982, you could walk into BM Hanson Elementary School in Harvey, North Dakota and see lots of ten-year-old kids wearing jeans and t-shirts and carrying backpacks. But you could also see one little boy wearing dress slacks and a polo shirt carrying a briefcase made from an old emptied out backgammon case.
Thirty-five years later, Rod Marchand is still carrying a briefcase, but instead of dreaming about being a businessman, he has become one. The second generation entrepreneur and his wife, Angie, announced this week that they have continued to build their furniture, flooring and appliance store by adding their own proprietary line of mattresses.
Marchand Retail Group, Inc. will launch its new mattress line, CopperRest Sleep, in November. It will be carried exclusively by Tom’s Home Furnishings in Harvey.
Tom’s Electronics Center, established in 1980 by Tom and Myrna Marchand, changed its corporate name to Marchand Retail Group, Inc. a few years ago. Rod and Angie purchased the company in 1999.
“I started out by working in the repair shop with my dad,” Marchand recalled. “Back then, it was Tom’s Electronics. I helped fix TVs and radios. I have always liked to build things, whether mechanically or on paper. I have always been intrigued by business and how it works.”
His entrepreneurial spirit only increased as he continued to build Tom’s Home Furnishings, already a well-established business, by selling furniture, appliances, and floorcovering, and employing full-service installation, appliance repair, and design services. Tom’s also recently launched a carpet cleaning service in August of this year, and they formed an e-commerce division, which has been actively selling products online across the country.
But Marchand noted that even with a comprehensive offering of goods and services, the couple noticed a gap in what they carried in the store and offered to their customers who were shopping for mattresses.
“We wanted to have our own brand with control over the specifications,” said Marchand. “We noticed a significant growth in the ‘bed-in-a-box’ market, an emerging industry that we had the opportunity to be a part of. We wanted to offer something to our customers that we didn’t have access to from our current manufacturers.”
Marchand contacted John Stevens, Vice President of Upper Midwest Sleep. The Marchands already had an established relationship with the Grand Forks-based manufacturer that creates mattress brands such as Restonic and King Coil. The Marchands were happy they could work with a North Dakota manufacturer, so construction of their mattresses would also support the local and state economy. The materials for the mattresses are all produced domestically, making CopperRest mattresses a product made completely in the U.S.A.
“Rod chose to manufacture mattresses made of high resilient foam, a significant step up from traditional mattresses,” said Stevens. “In manufacturing, the mattresses are put under great pressure with rollers that twist and bend them to make them soft. Once they’re put through this process, the open cell foam mattresses retain that softness. However, the latex is very dense so it also retains its shape. Plus, the open-cell structure of the foam means that it’s breathable, allows airflow and keeps heat away from the body.
But it’s the copper that’s different from many of the mattresses currently offered by many traditional furniture stores, including Tom’s. Each mattress contains a copper-infused gel layer that acts similarly to athletic clothing and bracelets used to ease the pain of aching joints and increase circulation. Plus, copper is naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial, so they also fight of germs and bacteria that can make people with allergies sick while they sleep.
Both Rod and Angie Marchand spoke about the influence health benefits and good sleep played in choosing what kind of mattress to offer.
“Purchasing a bed is way more difficult than seeing something that looks pretty,” said Angie. “It’s a process of choosing something that makes you feel good. People are afraid they’re not going to like what they buy. And what is a good night’s sleep really worth? It’s amazing what a good mattress can do for your health.”
The Marchands had hoped to have mattresses in stock in October, but ran into a few snags. Roadblocks along the way might have deterred some business owners, but Marchand’s wife Angie emphasized her husband, and business partner’s, determination.
“Rod really has that drive and ambition,” Angie said. “Many people are afraid to try something because they’re afraid they’ll fail. But Rod and I believe if you don’t try something and stick your neck out, you won’t ever know. We just decided to do it, and it turned out to be a simple as making some phone calls and seeing who can help us.”
But Marchand wouldn’t take all the credit. “When we’ve made important decisions and achieved our greatest successes, it’s when Ang and I and our entire staff collaborate.”
Tom’s Home Furnishings will be the exclusive retailer for CopperRest mattresses, but because they can be manufactured in custom sizes, companies like Camping World are showing interest in carrying them. Rod and Angie saw an oportunity in the RV mattress niche, where the need for custom-sized mattresses can be fulfilled locally by Tom’s. Additionally, the mattresses will also be available on Amazon due to the Marchand Retail Group’s recent partnership with the online retail giant.
Stevens said the ability to sell mattresses online is a significant change in how business is done in the 21st Century. Consumers no longer need cars, or transporation at all, to purchase a mattress. The high cost of delivery is eliminated since the foam can be compressed to a fraction of its size. Anyone who lives in an apartment building in a city or in a rural area without access to retail stores can still shop online and get delivery right to their door.
The new CopperRest line of mattresses arrived at Tom’s the first week of November.