The First Generation
Nate Ellman owned and operated “Softex” in South Africa, and began manufacturing pillows and bedding in 1954. Leon Ellman was involved with the company in his youth, as he would assist his father in office tasks and began gaining an understanding of the “family” operation at a very early age.
The Second Generation
Leon Joined Softex
Leon joined “Softex” in 1967 with a university degree in accounting, and quickly built the company into one of the largest mattress manufacturers in South Africa. Leon streamlined processes and brought additional assembly process “in house” thus creating a vertical manufacturing structure.
Leon Moves to the U.S.A.
THE FIRST PLANT
In 1974, Leon made the move to the U.S.A. opening his first U.S. plant in Florida and then growing his manufacturing footprint as a “Nationwide” supplier with 10 total manufacturing plants. The company became a high-quality manufacturing machine with a low overhead structure capable of shipping large volumes throughout the United States.
The Third Generation
All In the Family
NEIL & LANCE ELLMAN
With all of this, Leon and Elaine had two children (Neil and Lance). The acorn didn’t fall far from the tree as they were equally active, cutting their teeth by listening and asking lots of questions as they witnessed Leon growing the business.
Neil graduated from American University in Washington D.C., and before he walked the stage, he had already decided that the family business was his future. Neil’s a natural in business as his mature and calm demeanor builds trust in his business relationships, which is the bedrock of Sherwood Beddings personality.
Lance graduated from Syracuse and felt much the same regarding his employment as his brother. He leaned towards the operational side of the business and jumped straight into opening the family’s Pennsylvania factory. He is responsible for plant layout, personnel management, operations, supply chain, labor, and processes.
EXPANDING ON HANDSHAKES
The company expanded and grew geographically, but it was the passion for the business and their methodology of how they conduct themselves that is the backbone of their success. They live and conduct themselves on a “handshake” thus attracting like-minded team members.
Leading the Industry
TOP 100 FURNITURE RETAILERS
The company led the bedding industry in growth in the mid-2000’s and was sold in 2005. During this period, the family recognized the tremendous opportunity developing in an industry that was being absorbed by massive consolidations and private equity firms. The company pioneered new distribution channels (wholesale clubs, electronic retailers) and built a solid array of accounts and management. The company also developed state of the art products and became important to many top 100 Furniture Retailers.
Introducing Sherwood Bedding
A New Brand is Born
On November 1st, 2010 the Ellman’s opened “Sherwood Bedding.” The time away from the industry wasn’t wasted, as they had developed a new approach. First, build world-class manufacturing facilities, featuring high-speed computerized equipment with automation in essential areas of manufacturing which increased quality and controls cost. The industry was calling for the family to return. Most of the competitors were run by banks, and the industry lacked true entrepreneurship. It was a perfect opportunity for the family to start again calling the new operation, Sherwood Bedding.
- Sherwood West (Phoenix, Arizona ) opened in 2010
- Sherwood Southeast (Orlando, Florida) opened in 2012
- Sherwood Texas (Dallas, Texas) opened in 2014
- Sherwood Midwest (Kentucky) opened in 2016
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