Dilworth Mattress Factory was recently featured in Axios Charlotte!
November 5, 2023
by Katie Peralta Soloff
Family-owned mattress business endures decades of change in South End
Dilworth Mattress Factory is a Charlotte institution that has evolved over its more than nine decades in business.
Driving the news: This year, Scott Hirsch, whose great-grandfather Thomas Philbeck started Dilworth Mattress in 1931, took over the business with his wife, Dori, marking the fourth generation of family ownership. They’re succeeding Hirsch’s uncle, Alan, who recently retired.
Why it matters: In a city full of national chains, Dilworth Mattress has endured despite new neighborhood development and increased competition.
Zoom out: Numerous family-run businesses have closed or moved out of South End, one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods that’s full of new development and rising rents. Mr. K’s closed in 2021 after more than five decades in business. Price’s Chicken Coop, another family-owned spot, also closed in South End after nearly six decades in 2021.
- Roughly 400 small businesses call South End home, according to Center City Partners. Roughly 56% of them are locally owned, WBTV reported.
Flashback: Dilworth Mattress Factory first opened at the corner of Tremont and Hawkins as a factory primarily focused on mattress repairs for hospitals, hotels and other commercial businesses. They’d put in new spring units here, add fresh buttons there.
- Mattress construction began changing in the 1960s and 1970s, the Hirches say. Eventually, Dilworth Mattress converted part of its factory into a showroom, where customers can select their mattresses to be custom-made.
- That process takes more time than picking a mattress from the showroom and having it delivered the same day, Alan tells Axios. Plenty of people don’t want to wait the week or so it takes to manufacture a mattress. But customers appreciate the company’s personal touch, the Hirsches say.
Between the lines: Mattresses from national brands tend to last four to six years. Dilworth Mattress says it guarantees its mattresses for 15 years. “Overall the mattress industry does not want to sell you a mattress and not see you again for 15 years. They want to see you sooner,” Alan Hirsch tells Axios.
Zoom in: Dilworth Mattress has been approached by buyers interested in acquiring the business. “My grandmother, who probably had final say, as it was her father who had started the business, wanted it to stay in the family,” Scott tells Axios.
The bottom line: There’s no exact recipe to be a successful longstanding family-run business in a fast-growing, young city like Charlotte. Dilworth Mattress is a bit old-school (you can’t order a mattress online), and their customer base isn’t huge — many are referrals; many have been coming to the Hirches for decades.
- The Hirsches cite the business’s use of quality products, plus their ability to customize mattresses. They’ve made extra large (10-foot) mattresses, for instance, for NBA players who need the extra room.
- “If someone says ‘hey I bought this mattress but it’s too firm or too soft’ … We can pick it up and customize it,” Scott says.
What he’s saying: “Dilworth Mattress Factory has survived wars, recessions and now a pandemic. While some things are different than they were in 1931, some things are the same and we still make all of our mattresses right in the heart of South End,” Scott adds.
Read the entire article here: https://charlotte.axios.com/342360/family-owned-dilworth-mattress-factory-business-south-end/