Chris Eldridge’s tenacity has paid off in the success of America’s Mattress and FileMinders which was sold in 2005. America’s Mattress has grown from 1 store to 19 stores in the last two years and is now the largest sleep shop in Hawaii. Every year Chris provides beds at below cost to Helping Hands Hawaii to support people in need.
Chris is not afraid to talk about past ventures that did not go as planned. He speaks candidly about his first ventures that eventually went out of business and what it took to make his recent companies successful.
Some questions asked:
What has been the most challenging thing about getting a business started and keep it running successfully?
What are the 3 most important things you learned through your failures and successes?
What have you learned most importantly about yourself through the “failures” or learning experiences?
What was the first business you tried?
How did you balance between two successful businesses while growing both?
How did you find your partners?
Is it tough to find or retain employees?
How do you find and retain employees?
Was it tough going through the transition of doing everything yourself to hiring employees and working as a team and managing?
What was the hardest part about it?
How many locations of America’s Mattress do you own now?
How do you manage the different stores being in Hawaii?
Were you with your wife while trying these different businesses or did you meet her after?
What have you learned most importantly about yourself through the hard times?
How did you still keep hope and think positive about trying something new each time?
Do you think you are a born business man? Do you think you would’ve started another company if this didn’t succeed?
How were you able to come up with the capital each time you started a new business?
I saw your advertisement on the street the other day. Someone was standing on the road with a sign that said America’s Mattress Blowout. Does this type of advertisement work?
In the beginning how did you get your customers for PortaBox?
Could you give us some cold calling tips?
What are the biggest and most common mistakes you see business owners make managing their business?
What is the most important thing to teach your children? Are you preparing them to take over the business later?
Please tell us your involvement with Helping Hands.
Please tell us about your fundraising for Nature Conservancy.
You are a board member of the Young Entrepreneur Organization, what does your organization do?
What was your biggest business challenge and how did you overcome it?
What are the biggest mistakes people make?
Any last advice for business people?
What can we look forward to in the future?
What message would you like our listeners to receive from this discussion?
Chris Eldridge is the president and founder of Mattress Outlet, which has recently changed its name to America’s Mattress. He handles the operations of 19 stores in Hawaii, California, Nevada and Washington.
Eldridge graduated from Punahou High School in 1987 and from Boston University in 1990. He passed up a corporate job with Wells Fargo and decided to move to Alaska where his family had just relocated. Perplexed about what to do with his life, he joined a company that manufactured and distributed souvenirs including everything from gold nugget jewelry to t-shirts.
He eventually moved to Seattle where he created and sold a line of young men’s and boy’s attitude apparel. After that failed, he tried another line which met the same fate. Not one to give up, Eldridge thought carefully about his next move and whether to further his education in Business School, Law School or join the corporate world. He decided on the school of experience and tried his hand at selling factory second mattresses!
In 1996, Eldridge moved back to Hawaii and started selling factory second mattresses that he shipped in from the east coast. He was Mattress Outlet’s sales and delivery person, taking these mattresses to his customer’s homes in his own personal pick up truck. In 1999, Serta Mattress Company approached Eldridge to retail some of their promotional mattresses and he soon opened his second store on Kapiolani. At this time a more traditional mattress retail store showcasing all of Serta’s models was born. In 2000, he acquired two stores in Kona and a year later, he opened one on Maui. In 2003, the Pearl Highland’s store was opened as well as the first mainland location in Carson City, Nevada.
Eldridge’s entrepreneurial spirit is evident through another endeavor. In 1998, amidst selling mattresses, Eldridge founded PortaBox storage, a transportable self-storage and record storage business. This company later merged with FileMinders and continues to be the largest commercial records storage company in the state. Eldridge has since sold his shares in that company.
After a few rough starts, Eldridge soon found his knack for starting businesses and growing them. Mattress Outlet, which converted to America’s Mattress on May 28,2005 making it the largest sleep shop in the state.
Eldridge is married to a fellow Punahou graduate, Wana’ao (class of ’89). They actually met in 1996 when Eldridge returned home. They have a one-year-old son and reside in Wailupe. Eldridge is very active and enjoys running, surfing and paddling.
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