Brian Croft is not afraid to be different. A large part of his success comes from the fact that he bucks trends and follows his gut. His optimism doesn’t hurt either. Croft founded Joplimo Mattress in 2009, during the Great Recession at a time when businesses were vanishing. Nationwide, between early 2008 and 2010, more than 223,000 small businesses shuttered, taking with them 3.1 million jobs, according to figures from the U.S. Census.
But in Joplin, Croft was opening his first store on Range Line Road and carving out a niche in the mattress industry selling custom-built mattresses. “Customization became vital because everyone is different,” he says. “We have our own shape, weight, age, problems, preferences, there is no one size fits all mattress.” In fact, the recession was beneficial for Croft as a new entrepreneur because he landed a great deal on the store, sign companies worked with him, businesses were eager to help.
The Carthage resident started with a $4,500 loan from his 401K, and today his company is an $8.5 million operation. From a one-man show his first year, Croft now has 40 employees and 10 store locations in three states. Eight of those locations are Joplimo Mattress, and two are Springfield Mattress storefronts. The stores stock 35 to 40 customizable mattresses and the FOREVERBED, a luxury line which comes with a lifetime warranty.
In 2018, he opened Croft Bedding, a 26,000-square-foot factory in Joplin to produce product for his company. Previously the mattresses were built by McKinney Bedding of Springfield, but Croft says owning a factory integrates his business and helps meet growth demands. The company is poised for growth: The goal is to open four stores a year for the next five years.
The idea for the venture began to percolate in 2007 at a national mattress conference in Florida. At the time, Croft served as director of sales and marketing for the adjustable bed division at Leggett & Platt, a Fortune 500 company and leading bedding components manufacturer. Leggett & Platt researchers spent years developing better coils, but a national mattress company was not interested in the new technology. Instead, the CEO said the average American buys a mattress every 10 to 20 years, and he wanted to shorten that buying cycle to 5 to 7 years. It wasn’t the way Croft wanted to do business.
Although Croft worked in sales and marketing, he earned a mechanical engineering degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, in New York. Soon he’d use both backgrounds to chisel out his vision.