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From Sweeping Floors to the C-Suite: BedTech Founder Explains How to Add Value to Commodity Items

From sweeping floors to the C-Suite! 

Today on the Dos Marcos Show, we chat with Justin Trumbo, President of BedTech Midwest, about his journey from being an RSA to becoming the President of a premier adjustable base company.


We chat about the struggles of entrepreneurship, how Justin and his consulting company are helping others build strategies and visions for their business, and how BedTech works with their partners to help retailers achieve profits on commodity items. 


“The hardest thing to do in any business is add value to a commodity [item]…so how do you add value to an adjustable base? You sell it as a part of a sleep system.”

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Justin Trumbo 

Cool for having me do this. In general, you

Mark Kinsley 

know, here’s the tease. These guys are assholes for having me do this. Yep, that’s the president of bed tech Midwest is here on the show today, Justin

Mark Quinn 

Trumbo that’s trombone with that the

Mark Kinsley 

own. The dose Marco show begins in 30 seconds.

That’s how we’re starting. This is how we’re gonna do

Mark Kinsley 

this. Now that just started the rest of this. We are in it. Boy,

Mark Quinn 

you guys where we were with Justin Trumbo at the betting conference in Orlando, Florida. We’re so glad he’s. So we’re like, Hey, Justin, come sit down. We like your energy. You’re a very positive guy. So we thought we would like bring you on the show. You are the president of bed tech Midwest. Yes, sir, which is a premier adjustable base company and you do a lot of business all over the place. Tell us a little bit about that. And then we’ll jump into some other stuff.

Justin Trombo 

That Tech was actually founded in Portland, Oregon, 15 years ago. We have seven distribution facilities all over the United States. We more specialise in LTL quick shipments to let people not have to stock as much and they can pull from our warehouses. But we also have a lot of large customers, we handle their private labels and direct distribution. And so we definitely specialise in the adjustable beds, but have other products, pillows, mattresses covers things and

Mark Quinn 

you carry a tonne of inventory and which is a big deal so that you can get forward distribution to retail. Yeah,

Justin Trombo 

with the seven facilities, the average location is about 100,000 square feet. Yeah, the one that I own is about 150,000 square feet. The average location keeps about two to $3 million of product on hand salon and we’ve done very well through the supply chain disruptions. Our factory in Taiwan is able to put out about 50 containers and mattresses a day and 45 containers of bases a day. And so the biggest supply hurdle with us hasn’t really been production capacity. It’s been shipping shipping, right? Like actually moving the product has been the biggest hurdle.

Mark Quinn 

So you’re also a consultant, you have a consulting business. And so what do you do with your consulting there’s and you’re in the retail space with that as well.

Justin Trombo 

Yeah, my my background, I was actually originally in RSA, and so my whole background is retail. So every everything that I do, I try to take back to retail. My consulting companies core helps people with business planning, developing visions, tracking those visions over a one year, three year five year 10 year plan. lease negotiations more on the on the business first in the business stuff.

Mark Kinsley 

Got it. Okay, Justin, so you started talking about your background a little bit. So let’s go there. So you started as an RSA, and you were really on the front lines and the person that matters most whenever it comes to the mattress purchase? How did your career progress from being an RSA to now owning and being president of bed tech Midwest and having your consultancy business?

Justin Trombo 

I was an interesting just time spent right like I’ve been in the industry now. 17 years. So I started as a retail sales associate, moved up to an assistant manager 2009 Simmons actually ran a national sales contest which I won. I was 2000 nines national champion for comfort piatek and Simmons natural care. From there became a store managers Miss Scott Smalley. I know I got over there. I fell in butcher’s golf course. I was playing golf with Butch Gooch where I fell in I fell in the creek. So he actually I went to go get my ball in the hole Creek collapsed and he fell and I fell in with Bush. Somebody plan that no every time I see Butch now he asked me if I have floaties on or whatever. So did

Mark Quinn 

anyone stand over you and laugh at you and you fellas

Justin Trombo 

thing was the did they take a picture? I’m guessing there’s a good story. I’m guessing there’s a story

Mark Quinn 

that and he stood over me laughed at me because Bigfoot attacked me. It’s a long story. And he sat there laughing me taking photos of me and a good friend would writhing in pain Yeah, that’s a different one. Right exactly. Anyway, back to you.

Justin Trombo 

No no so with the worst part with the thing on butches course yes, a woman’s League was actually right behind us. And so we literally had women playing behind us the whole day as I had made up my ass I go way back with those guys but I can’t believe it’s the first story that made it out here is probably gonna be famous sick. Yeah, exactly. But she’s gonna Bush is gonna see this and give a fist bump. Right so

Mark Kinsley 

let’s didn’t vote on his ass Trumbo. Yeah,

Mark Quinn 

I don’t wish this trombone with that. Oh,

Justin Trombo 

oh, without the dome somehow that’s gonna stick by the way I’m going to be at the next

Mark Quinn 

drum bow which is trombone with that? Yeah, I

Justin Trombo 

don’t if Jeff G or anybody starts calling me that man. I’m gonna have problems it’s gonna put me down so I’ll remember that you started he’s gonna become my favourite mark like I was originally question lobbying for the lobbying for that told me Yeah,

Mark Quinn 

I saw Kinsley in the hallway and he asked me which would which my favourite Mark was

Justin Trombo 

and obviously he was the answer that’s very political do

Mark Kinsley 

that very often at all guys.

Mark Quinn 

On the show you do it as a matter of

Justin Trombo 

fact, feel free to tweet in who your favourite Mark go right here cuz everybody yeah

Mark Kinsley 

go to fam dot news. You can tell starts right there for fans. We’re happy to have. Okay, Justin. So you like see a lot of the industry, obviously, whenever you’re on the adjustable base side, but obviously all the other products that you mentioned and medtech. And in your consultancy, you have helped both retailers and manufacturers, as you’re out and about, you know, consulting with them. And the challenges or the opportunities in these businesses come to the surface. What are the themes that you notice these days? Here we are, you know, a major heading into June 2022. What do you notice?

Justin Trombo 

Well, I mean, I think we talked about it a lot at this conference, the best retailers have realised that the commoditization of the lower price points have happened and are going to continue to be taken away from us. And then I think it was actually the last tip repeated conference, where they referenced that above $2,000, was growing at 7x, anywhere else in our industry. So obviously, the best retailers as foot traffic has dropped, has focused on driving average unit selling price. And doing that, I think by daring to be different, different niche products, different niche sizes that maybe their competition doesn’t have, or unique marketing strategies to that market is going to be very important to keep driving, I think the biggest thing that I talk to my clients about it’s important, it’s a little different. Most people run a top down accounting, I really run a bottom up, I take a very pie charted approach to profitability to make sure that all my retailers I work with maintain the 10 to 12% EBIT, because if you’re not profitable, you’re not making money, you can’t reinvest back into advertising, you can’t raise your benefits and wages to your employees. And so we really take a focus on bottom line profitability and transferring that backup through the business with very disciplined practices.

Mark Kinsley 

So okay, let’s go there for a minute. Because we don’t talk a lot about accounting practices on the show, because numbers don’t always translate. They’re not the sexiest thing whenever it comes to like, they’re definitely not, you know, punching that 10 key. But that’s a very important point I think you’re making is so people are doing it wrong, is what you find. So you come in, and you’re trying to get more profit into the business. So you can take that profit, you can redeploy it in a strategic ways, because the traditional way is what what do people do it? Well,

Justin Trombo 

I mean, the traditional way is basically saying, okay, look, I’m going to have a certain amount of volume. And if I want more volume, I’m going to spend more on advertising. And necessarily maybe that advertising sometimes has a diminishing rate of return, were maybe necessarily the greatest way to grow, that business isn’t by more advertising, maybe it’s new streams of revenue, whether it’s starting to do fundraisers or other things that you’re seeing other good, getting some commercial deals, whatever it may be to grow your business, versus just thinking, a shotgun approach to the spending more on television or radio is really going to drive more tickets or more consumers, right. So focusing on really just running it as a pie chart, leaving enough at the bottom of the chart, and then making everything else fit. And then being very disciplined in that practice. I feel like a lot of retailers, what they do is you go, let’s say, into a bad month, and they panic, right? And then they’ll overspend. They’ll get out of their budgets, or cut or cut, yeah, well make any decision, right, that really gets you out of your long term die. And so if you have a vision, as an owner, that vision needs to be defined, that vision needs to go onto a vision, traction organiser that says your one year, three year five year 10 year plans that defines your rocks and your core competencies for your business. And every owner is going to have a different vision some people may want to sell some people don’t want to grow their chain, some people may want to retire. And so making sure that the company’s structures matching the vision of that owner is so important, or the business doesn’t have stay power, especially on the independent side, right? Like when you get to the big big box, guys, the Republic that have all that money, some of those rules may not apply. When you get to these 123 door operators that are trying to balance time with their family and time in their store. That vision for that owner becomes so much more important, because it’s really what’s important to them and their family. And that really starts at you know, defining that will then define the rest of the business.

Mark Quinn 

What I like about what you said, Justin, is the fact that you work with them and you go what do you want this to be? Right? Because that will determine the path forward. Right. So do you want to sell it? Do you want to keep it as a generational business? Like what are you gonna do? Okay, so question for you before we go. Why is it in this catalogue of all the products that we have in the mattress industry? The adjustable base, there’s so much to talk about, right? So it’s so good for pregnant women. It’s great for people that are athletes a great for people with back pain, it’s great for people that want to explore different things and intimacy is great for people that might be sick. It’s great. He went there we went there. It only took him

Justin Trombo 

four drinks and five minutes on your show. One drink this refilled four times right so it counts for real.

Mark Quinn 

Right. And so my question to you is, what can you do? Or what? How do you get the industry to have a more robust conversation in building value in that piece as a lifestyle enhancement? Right now?

Justin Trombo 

I think that’s a good question. I think the adjustable bed itself to instil value in may be difficult, like I always at the keynote speaker talked about everything being a commodity. I actually talk to my clients about that all the time. The hardest thing to do in any business is to add value to a commodity. Could you imagine someone to fix and trying to add value to a toothpick? I mean, it’s next to impossible. Ready, stop, go.

Mark Kinsley 

Make them cinnamon flavoured

Mark Quinn 

toothpicks are great for keeping someone’s eye open when you torture them.

Mark Kinsley 

If you have a collection of to pickle ideas. Do you have a collection of two? No, we just started Yes, like I do, then you have to have toothpicks to put inside of them. So don’t you want cool looking toothpicks? I swear to you, I have a toothpick holder collection.

Mark Quinn 

So a great way to build houses with your kids and craft projects.

Mark Kinsley 

In Lincoln Logs,

Mark Quinn 

if you have a screw and it’s too big in the hole you can take to

Justin Trombo 

stay out of this. You’re having a fight? Yes, question? Did anybody pay $1? More for anything that you just mentioned?

Mark Kinsley 

Yes. Here’s what’s gonna happen, baby. Well, that’s the

Justin Trombo 

value, not list features and benefits of the commodity, right? We’re trying to add value to somebody pay more for anything you listed. So back to your question. The way you get more value out of your base is you sell sleep systems, you don’t rely on the adjustable base to be the part you rely on the mattress to add the value. And then it goes out as a sleep system with the base with the mattress with the pillows with the covers with the entire system. And it’s easier to add value in asleep system consumer than an individual piece

Mark Quinn 

of that system. So here’s, here’s what’s interesting to answer your question, there was a company that sold bolts, they were trying to figure out how to market their bowls. Okay, right. They didn’t know how to do that. But one of the marketing people found out that the bolts they made actually were used to construct the lat Statue of Liberty. Okay, so my point is, even with a toothpick is something as random as that it may not build value in the little piece of wood. However, if you have some fun with that, we’re gonna take the torture thing out. I don’t know who said that. Probably not that my least favourite. But it might it might create some affection for the company talking about it because it’s fun. And no to that company has ever come out with things like

Mark Kinsley 

if you look at like our toothpicks, they were made with reclaimed redwood forests. Yeah, certified wood. Yes. Now you have something of value and look absent of value. People make decisions on price, right? So if you’re not building value in something that people are going to be like, Well, I just want the cheapest thing possible. And one thing that you said at the conference, I think really ties into this conversation Well, is this idea that if you create a way to buy a way to buy that’s differentiated, that people are going to reward you with their dollars? You know, it’s like, it’s why Wegmans as a grocery store said, we’re going to create a grocery buying experience, they have the highest margins in a commoditized industry that’s great requires a big basket of goods to even be profitable.

Mark Quinn 

And how many people Kinsley complain, we live in the land of Walmart, complain, Oh, my gosh, Walmart, we can’t compete in here. These guys have carved out a great business because they saw it differently. They’re not playing the grocery game. They’re playing the experience.

Justin Trombo 

Well, I think what you said about the toothpick, though, and being part of something, yeah, back to the sleep system. Yeah. Yeah, brought it all the way back. If you remove from your process, the commodity aspect of the process, and focus on creating intrinsic value with the consumer where they can see themselves actually using the product, then price doesn’t matter anymore. And then you’ve D commoditize. The commodity and that’s best done in a sleep system, not on an individual piece.

Mark Kinsley 

And I think you have to start we just put an article up on fam dot news. And I read this book and Quinn’s read, it’s called the culture code. This guy gets into the nuts and bolts of what companies services or products actually mean to people like there’s a third hour of his sessions where people are lying down to the ground, the lights are low, there’s nice music pillows, the whole thing to try and get to this emotional moment of like, as a kid, what did health mean to you? What did wellness mean? What a doctor’s What did hospitals so he did it with coffee, like in Japan, like what did coffee in Japan mean to people? Well, he found out nothing, nothing. And then it became a billion dollar industry. But the point is, he went through this this exercise to figure out what does health mean at a granular level to people in the United States of America. So we went through hospitals because that ties into the health system doctors nurses found out positive signals for doctors. Hiro was the culture code. Nurses mother was the culture code in hospitals, processing plants. Because when you’re there, you’re getting poked on product. There are lights there beeps, you don’t get a good night’s sleep, right? And you treat it like a product. So then he got to the health piece of it. And here’s where, here’s what we’re gonna do your study.

Justin Trombo 

I swear, you guys aren’t as tall. Yeah, like they stand up taller on TV guys.

Mark Kinsley 

Yes. What’s all the chat? Right? Yes. What the culture code for health in America is at our deepest, most meaningful moment, what is health? Like? What’s the word that captures health,

mobility movement, okay, it makes sense.

Mark Kinsley 

It’s movement. Because if your people talked about their health, and they said, if you’re not healthy, you’re tied to a place you can’t move, you can’t complete your mission, you can’t be physical. So we have a product within our stores that you sell. That literally is on code for what health means in America. It’s all about movement. So if you can position that product as move on to better days, you know, your best movements start with a better night, we have something that I think we can really tap into. And that’s the type of conversation I want to have with people at retail, so they can build value in it in a system

Justin Trombo 

went back. I think what they talked about at this conference, a lot of you just sold the story. Right? You You You talked about the benefit of functional movement, functional mobility, strength, when you get into your latter years of your life, yes, the value of that to you and then you’ve tied it back to a product which again, is then be commoditizing it because in America, people don’t buy products, they buy stories. I think that’s been the whole point of this conference that we’ve been at. And I think the best retailers have already started that adoption process and if they haven’t, then they probably should, right? Yeah.

Mark Kinsley 

conversation with you. Like we literally snag Justin, because he did not want to come out I wasn’t gonna be clear and screaming we’re like you’re gonna get over here.

Justin Trombo 

He bought me a cocktail. That’s how they got me on I’m gonna cheat. I’m a cheap date. We had a great

Mark Kinsley 

time. So hey, we appreciate you being here. So nice to get in touch with you if people want to know more about you or learn more about your businesses how can they get in touch

Justin Trombo 

Email me easy rest.midwest@gmail.com Or go to the bed tech website to set the Contact Us I’ll see everything that comes over for you guys. It’s good to get to put faces man for the first ciders and everything Yeah,

Mark Quinn 

we need to have him back and talk about his consulting business because there’s a lot to that a lot more to that. Yeah

Mark Kinsley 

More to unpack and hey, as you unpack your week, we hope that you have a great one be sure to go to fam dot news. subscribe to the newsletter because of Justin Trumbo pops back up on the fam he’s now he’s now a member of the fam. All right when he pops back up on the fam, you’re gonna be subscribed. You’re gonna see it first. Subscribe to us on Apple podcasts. Thank you for being here. Thanks for having me on guys.

Mark Quinn 

Share with your friends. We are the fam home around the campfire and join let’s throw some hot dogs and marshmallows. Yeah,

Justin Trombo 

yeah, and you guys are the man

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