The Norfolk, Virginia-based bedding producer has charted an independent course with its own brands and with private-label business
Paramount Sleep Co. has forged a path of independence to establish its own niche in the bedding marketplace, one that offers sleep sanctuaries centered on high-end mattress lines.
Leaning into the market for luxury bedding, with retails that reach as high as $25,000 for a king sleep set, the company established an alliance of US bedding producers, a network of six bedding factories from coast to coast that it brought together to supply the needs of its major dealers.
It also has ventured into the global bedding arena, partnering with prominent bedding producers in Australia, Britain and New Zealand to bring key brands in those markets to US consumers. Those lines are built in Paramount’s 75,000-square-foot factory in Norfolk, Virginia.
While the company is proud of the stable of brands in its portfolio, it also has developed deep expertise in the private-label marketplace, where it serves prestigious retailers like Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. Private-label bedding lines generate a large portion of Paramount’s volume.
Private-label brands, the fastest-growing category in many industries, are designed to give consumers better value, facilitate the retail process and give them an opportunity for better margins, company officials note. Private-label brands also can become powerhouse brands in their own right, they add.
Paramount set out to build its own brave new bedding world in 2008, leaving a licensing relationship that it had been part of for more than four decades. “We felt we could do it better,” recalls Richard Diamonstein, Paramount’s managing director and co-owner. “We made the decision to go out on our own and develop new brands.”
The company hasn’t looked back since.
When it went out on its own, Paramount developed a collection of brands “at the intersection of passion and sleep,” the company says. It developed those brands by going beyond demographics to plumb psychographics and understand key consumer behaviors in the buying process.
Its first new bedding brands were HD (Heavy Duty) and Nature’s Spa, which remain in the portfolio today. They have been joined by the Back Performance brand and by international luxury brands Hypnos and AH Beard, which reach consumers in the US market through partnerships with Paramount.
And the company, which only recently obtained the rights to the Paramount brand (it was owned by another bedding producer), now features its own flagship brand.
The Hypnos, AH Beard and Paramount brands are all high-end offerings, with king retails topping out at $7,999 for the Paramount line, $14,999 for the Hypnos line and $24,999 for the AH Beard Signature line.
“Our mission is to handcraft innovative, state-of-the-art, stylish sleep products that provide our customers with the highest quality sleep experience, every night,” says Richard Fleck, a bedding veteran who joined Paramount in 2008 and has been president for almost a decade.
Earlier in his career Fleck worked at Federated Department Stores and then at bedding producer Spring Air, where he was senior vice president of merchandising and marketing.
The US alliance lets Paramount meet the needs of major bedding retailers like Bloomingdale’s, whose private-label Asteria mattress line is produced by three factories in the alliance, including the Paramount factory in Norfolk.
“The partners we have feel good about making products for us,” Diamonstein says. “We work closely with them, often teaching them about our hand crafted manufacturing techniques, resulting in the delivery of consistent sleep products nationwide. These partnerships are critical to our success. Making high-quality products consistently is a lost art. Many manufacturers make mass-production products, which is a very different business model than the one we are in.”
The US alliance partners are, like Paramount, family-operated businesses. “We like working with family businesses,” Diamonstein says. “They have skin in the game, and they care about the products they make. Good people know how to make good products.”
The alliance partners are located in the Northwest, on the West Coast, in the Midwest, in the Southwest and in the Southeast.
He credits industry icon Earl Kluft for opening the industry’s eyes to the power of high-end mattresses. “Earl paved the way for us to sell better products,” he says. “He paved the path for entrée to the high-end world. He took the industry to a higher level. And at the end of the day, it feels good to sell high-end bedding.”
Kluft, who died in 2018 at 70, sold mattresses in his Palais Royale line for $33,000 in 2010. At the time, it was described as the most expensive American-made mattress in the US market. He pioneered high-end bedding sales in his Aireloom and ES Kluft brands, which remain in the marketplace.
Diamonstein, a former chair of the International Sleep Products Association, says ISPA statistics confirms the growing importance of high-end beds. Queen-size sleep sets retailing at $2,000 and above gained share in units and in dollars in 2020 and again in 2021, he notes. And, he adds, insights like those are invaluable for helping producers make smarter decisions about where to invest for future growth.
“Elevating Sleep” is the company’s tagline, and that applies not only to touting high-end sleep sets, but also to promoting the benefits of a good night’s sleep. About a third of all consumers say they are dissatisfied with their sleep and many of those would benefit from a better mattress, company officials say.
Paramount’s bedding offerings start at $799, high above the promotional price points where many producers do battle.
Unlike other producers, Paramount does not make any boxed beds. “We don’t want to drive our average unit selling price down,” Diamonstein says.
Paramount also doesn’t sell its mattresses online. “We don’t want to compete with our retailers,” he says.
As the economic environment has changed in recent years, Paramount has continued to adapt its business and supply model. The Covid-19 pandemic challenged the Paramount team to provide on-time and consistent delivery to its retail customers, a challenge that the team embraced, officials say.
The company has a long history in the bedding industry.
Paramount was established in 1935 in Norfolk, Virginia, by the Comess family. Richard Diamonstein’s grandfather, Albert Diamonstein, began working at the company the next year, gradually accumulating stock in the business.
“Over time, Albert received bonuses, but in those hard times the company couldn’t afford to pay bonuses, so they gave him stock,” Diamonstein says.
Eventually those stock awards enabled Albert to take control of Paramount, and the company has been in the Diamonstein family ever since.
Albert’s son, Arthur, later ran the business, followed by his sons, Richard and Jamie. Jamie left Paramount in 2015 and founded an online bedding company, Leesa.
Richard Diamonstein says he and his brother had different philosophies on running the business, an issue that has played out at many family-run companies.
Richard Fleck was named president of Paramount in October 2013. He and Richard Diamonstein have established a smooth and strong working relationship.
“Neither of us is ego driven,” Diamonstein says. “We respect each other and each other’s abilities. We just want results.”
Adds Fleck: “We are not empire building. Our goal is to take care of our customers and make sure we are delivering the best products.”
Paramount Sleep is now in its fourth generation. Richard’s son, Eric, who lives in Dallas, serves on the board of directors.