Originally Published in Evolve Magazine April 2017
Want to know what makes a company successful -- What they believe in and what they strive for? Look at what is posted on the walls. That is the feeling you get when you walk into Fox Mattress where Benjamin Franklin's quote is prominently displayed in the showroom: "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten." This could easily be the motto of Fox Mattress, one of Volusia County's small business manufacturers. Simply put, Rick and Chelsea Carter want to build a better mattress than they can buy elsewhere. That has been the business standard since 1968. They must be getting it right as they've won Best Mattress and Best Factory Direct Store 27 years running.
So how does a Mom and Pop (or really a Father and Daughter) business like Fox Mattress achieve longevity in a fast paced world of innovation? According to Chelsea Carter, who runs the company alongside her dad, the answer is simply going back to the basics and offering something unique. Even as other manufacturers have looked to adapting computers, robotics, and cyber technology to production, Fox Mattress still handcrafts each and every mattress it makes. "We give customers something they can't find anywhere else," says Chelsea.
The sign hanging over Chelsea's desk is "Think Big." Chelsea is the third generation Carter to run the business. She has many titles, Co-Owner, Vice President, and Director of Sales, but she doesn't even list a title on her business card. Why? She simply wears too many hats. Chelsea's dedication has earned her the nickname "the bulldog" and a tireless reputation: Chelsea will not let go until the customer's needs are met.
Chelsea is too young to remember her family's original store in the sixties, then named Carter bedding. After the untimely death of her grandfather, Chelsea's father, Rick Carter, inherited the business. At nineteen, Rick realized he could use some back up. A partnership with Rex Fox helped the Carters combine the furniture retail know-how of Rex Fox with the production savvy of the Carters. Rex was already in the retail side of the business, selling mattresses made by other companies. The Carters offered Rex an opportunity to contribute the knowledge and skill he developed as an upholsterer to making his own mattresses. They set up a combined factory and showroom. Fox Mattress was born.
There have been many changes in the last forty years in mattress manufacturing- machines replaced hand sewn, wood foundations replaced boxsprings, feathers disappeared, and mattresses became one sided. Fox Mattress is one of very few mattress manufacturers that still make a two sided mattress. They also set themselves apart by producing mattresses that are tailor-made for the Florida climate. Stuffing materials like raw cotton or coconut fiber are not suited for highly humid climates and can lump together causing unevenness. It is not just the uniqueness of their product that makes Fox brand so popular. Fox Mattress customers get top quality for their dollars, no matter their budget. As Chelsea points out, it's the insides that count; not just a nicely stitched top.