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15. Going to the Mattresses

Okay, it’s icky. But you don’t have to own your own Hazmat suit to fret about the stuff that settles into your mattress. When Kurt Ling heard that his customers were doing everything from vacuuming to using baking soda to remove grime, mites, and other nasties–while others kept calling and emailing to ask how they could wash their mattresses–he listened. Many emails asked: What about a detachable top that could be washed? Why not? thought Ling, although it wasn’t easy for the 135-year-old mattress outfit. “It affected almost every single area of our company,” he admits. They’d never had to think about things like zippers. Ling’s team designed a mattress cover that traps moisture, can be bleached in a washing machine or dry cleaned, and is shrinkproof. Simmons rolled out the HealthSmart Bed in January, so Ling can rest easy.

2005 FAST 50 WINNER

Kurt Ling, 41

Vice president of innovation
Simmons Bedding Co.
Atlanta, Georgia

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