THOMASVILLE | Neal and Kathy Grigg started Carolina Mattress Guild with five employees in a 5,000-square-foot space 20 years ago in High Point.
Today the mattress maker employs about 85 people at its 68,000-square-foot headquarters on Interstate 85 Business Loop in Thomasville, with 65 of those individuals in production and the remainder in sales, administration or driving trucks. A second facility in Orlando, Fla., which opened in 2009, employs another 15 people. The local plant produces 85 models of mattresses while the Orlando facility makes 65.
With Neal's executive experience at Leggett & Platt, which makes bed springs, and Kathy's eye for design, the business quickly grew. The Griggs moved the operation to Thomasville in 1993 for more space and opened the current headquarters in December 2000. But within five weeks of opening their new facility, a spark from welding work in the production area set off a blaze that quickly engulfed the factory filled with fabric and foam.
“We saw firsthand what happens when foam burns — all the black, acrid smoke,” Kathy said, noting the facility was gutted due to the high amount of smoke and water damage. No one was injured.
For several months they leased some temporary production space in High Point, ran administrative operations out of some trailers parked in front of the headquarters and were back on their feet by the High Point Market in April 2001.
Kathy said the fire was hard on everyone, but she proudly noted it led the company to become the first manufacturer in the U.S. to make a flame-retardant mattress in 2003, which is now standard and required by law.