‘Sleep with a Wolf’: How a Fort Wayne business is helping people sleep better
By Lauren Caggiano | Input Fort Wayne
It's no secret that sleeping well can help you function your best throughout the day. But what you might not know is that many people across the country owe their good night's sleep to a local success story.
Fort Wayne-based Wolf Corporation, a fourth-generation manufacturer of mattresses and futons, has been in the business since 1873. Their production facility and showroom, which employs about 40 people, is located 3434 Adams Center Road. They sell their suite of products to retailers across the country and also serve the direct-to-consumer segment through their retail outlet on site.
Husband and wife team, Tony and Beth Wolf, are at the helm and are proud to hold the distinction of being the oldest mattress manufacturer in the United States under continuous family ownership. Paul Wolf, Tony’s great-grandfather, immigrated to America from Germany and started the company in Fort Wayne in the late 19th century.
Of course, a lot has changed since then, but the family-owned and made-in-the-U.S. tradition at Wolf Corporation remains. According to Beth, who handles sales for the company, they have made their mark on the industry in more ways than one.
“We also have a fiber division that manufactures fiber products, cotton, and polyester that we use within our mattresses,” she says. “That makes us unique—that we truly are vertically integrated. We're also the oldest Serta licensee in that we make all their futons, and we’ve been doing that for more than 20 years.”
Technology is another theme in Wolf Corporation's success. For example, Tony has seen firsthand how automation has maximized efficiency.
“In 1990, it took 20 minutes to produce a mattress top and get it right,” he says. “Today, you can do it in two minutes with fewer errors and fewer problems thanks to programmable logic controls. Some people would say computerized controls make the product better, more uniform.”
In other words, innovation can maintain and drive quality. On that note, Beth attributes the company’s success to its ability to identify trends and pivot with changing market demands, all while leaning into technology.
“Our niche right now is e-commerce sales,” she explains. “We started with futons when e-commerce started to get popular. Around that time, Tony noticed that sales were dropping off because college kids were taking to the internet to order futons. So we figured out how to compress, roll, and drop-ship those.”
And they do so in a timely fashion. She says upon receipt of the order, they typically ship out within 48 hours. That’s just one of the many ways they try to distinguish themselves in the competitive landscape.
Speaking of competition, Beth says that in the last decade or so, many other e-commerce-driven brands have come onto the market. But they aren’t discouraged by this reality. She’s confident their product speaks for itself, both in terms of quality and the price. (All of their mattresses retail for less than $1,000.)
“I think the main difference is most of our mattresses have some type of an inner spring; whereas the popular bed-in-the-box programs are mainly all foam,” she says.
For local consumers looking to make the investment in a new mattress, Beth offers some advice.
“Shop around, but before you buy, please come visit us," she says. "I think people would find we make a great mattress at a great price.”