Innocor: Founded on Innovation

A new basic-bedding firm launches from the merger of Sleep Innovations and Flexible Foam

By David Gill

Innocor

From top: Carol Eicher, Innocor: “We think there’s a lot more to do with memory-foam technology.” Stanley Utility Mats are part of Innocor’s line. The Sleep Innovations Sleep Plush Mattress Topper. Innocor will retain the key brand names from its established product lines. sleepinnovations.com

A new player in the basic-bedding industry has been born of the merger between Sleep Innovations and Flexible Foam Products.

The company is called Innocor Inc., and—according to a statement from the newly minted manufacturer—is the second largest producer of flexible polyurethane foam in North America. It is also carrying forward with Sleep Innovations’ line of bed pillows, mattress toppers, mattresses, bath mats, kitchen mats and pet products. Sleep Innovations’ brands—including Sleep Innovations, Novaform, Comfort Co. and Stanley Utility Mats—will also remain in the merged company’s portfolio.

The history of this merger begins in November 2012, when investment firm Sun Capital Partners closed on its acquisition of Sleep Innovations. In March of this year, Sleep Innovations swung a deal to acquire the assets of Flexible Foam Products.

Now the two companies have become one, and as of early last month, the new company has a new leader. Chemical industry veteran Carol Eicher was hired as president and CEO of Innocor. Richard Brown, managing partner of Sun Capital and Innocor’s chairman, said, “The board and I are confident Carol is the best choice to guide the business as we leverage our increased manufacturing footprint as both a retail partner and OEM [original equipment manufacturer] supplier.”

In Eicher’s view, the merger comes with a lot of positive synergies. The combination creates a company with “both branded retail product and a broad channel strategy in which we sell foam to bedding and furniture manufacturers,” she said. “Our customer base is a national customer base, and a lot of these customers want to be serviced as national accounts, with network and distribution points that align well with their footprints. This merger helps fill out that footprint.”

The other synergy comes from the sheer size of the newly created Innocor. “We are now one of the biggest players in this market,” Eicher said. “We have gone from two medium-size companies to one company with nearly $1 billion in sales.”

Innocor’s first mission in its early days will be to figure out the opportunities created by these synergies, Eicher said. “Our focus will be to look at our new network and make sure we are taking full advantage of our manufacturing capabilities,” she said. “We will be looking at ways for the two companies to share technologies and configuring our network to make sure we service customers more quickly and efficiently.”

This strategy—which Eicher termed “optimizing the integration”—will eventually lead to what Innocor can add to its product portfolio, and how to leverage its broader customer base to bring in new product innovations. This is actually a continuation of the culture of Sleep Innovations; aside from its name, the company has always been known for bringing new products and technologies to the utility bedding market, Eicher said.

And, in her view, the opportunities still exist for Innocor as well. “We think there’s a lot more to do with memory-foam technology,” Eicher said. “Seventy percent of the (mattress) market is still innerspring and coil technology, so there are a lot more opportunities for memory foam-type products.”

Eicher also said that, with Sleep Innovations, the platform is already there for bringing the latest and greatest to the bedding market. “To me, innovation is not about people working in a lab,” she said. “It’s also about working out solutions to problems from our customers. It’s important that now, with the merger, we have this larger outreach to customers.”