In a world where businesses come and go, Dilworth Mattress Factory stands as a testament to resilience and tradition. What began as a humble mattress repair shop in 1931 has weathered the storms of depressions, world wars, recessions, and even a global pandemic. Today, Scott and Dori Hirsch, the fourth generation of the family, proudly run this iconic Charlotte institution.
Located in the heart of South End since its inception, Dilworth Mattress Factory has been manufacturing mattresses right here in Charlotte for decades. Across generations, families have relied on Dilworth Mattress for a good night’s sleep. Scott and Dori Hirsch recently stepped up to continue this legacy, taking over from Scott’s uncle and aunt, Alan and Debbie Hirsch, who led the factory and showroom for the past 50 years.
Scott first worked at Dilworth Mattress Factory during the summer of 1986. Despite owning other businesses in Charlotte, he always harbored a dream of owning a small manufacturing facility. When Alan expressed a desire to retire, Scott seized the opportunity to build upon the family business.
The company has a 90-year reputation for building long-lasting mattresses with the best materials available at a fair price. One customer recently visited who had purchased from Dilworth Mattress in 1997. “There was nothing wrong with his current mattress, even though it was neary 27 years old” Scott says. “He simply needed to downsize.”
Repairing mattresses during the Great Depression
The history of Dilworth Mattress Factory is deeply rooted in Charlotte’s fabric. It began with Thomas Philbeck, a furniture salesman, who founded Dilworth Mattress in what’s now called the South End neighborhood in 1931. He wanted to give customers an alternative to buying new mattresses during the Great Depression.
Philbeck’s innovative approach involved refurbishing old mattresses. He would pick up a customer’s mattress in the morning, sterilize it, rework the cotton, add new springs, and cover it, effectively breathing new life into the old mattress. By the afternoon, the revitalized mattress would be delivered back to the customer, practically good as new.
After World War II, Philbeck’s son-in-law, Edward Hirsch, recognized the demand for renovated mattresses in hospitals and hotels across Charlotte. He established a division to cater to this niche. In 1950, the family constructed a new facility at 242 West Tremont, just a stone’s throw from the original building.
Building custom beds today for individual tastes
Scott’s uncle, Alan, remembers working at Dilworth Mattress as a teenager in 1963 and visiting the business’s commercial customers with his dad Edward. At one client’s location, the old Charlotte Hotel on Trade Street, wrestlers would gather for a drink and to play cards after threatening to kill each other during a match, Alan says. “Wrestling was big in those days.”
Alan and his mom, Elizabeth, assumed leadership of the business in 1972. The business expanded to include the production of high-quality new mattresses for residences. Then as now, the company builds each mattress custom by hand.
Over the years it has received some usual requests. It once created a 90-inch round bed that filled an entire room. It’s built beds for well-known Charlotteans for their yachts. A 95-year-old customer recently needed a mattress for her 60-year-old bed frame, and Dilworth Mattress built one to fit. Some couples want a mattress that’s soft on one side and firm on the other.
Today, Scott and Dori Hirsch strive to uphold the tradition of excellence that has defined Dilworth Mattress Factory for nearly a century. Despite the proliferation of new mattress stores on every other corner, competitors can’t match the reliability and craftsmanship that Dilworth Mattress has offered to the Charlotte community since 1931.
As Charlotte’s oldest mattress company, Dilworth Mattress Factory continues to defy trends, proving that sometimes the best path forward is to hold on to what has made you great since the beginning.