How This Bedding Company's Strong Social Mission Helped Build Consumer Trust

Young shoppers want to buy from companies they feel good about, so they're driving businesses to be accountable for every choice, says the co-founder and CEO of Malouf.
How This Bedding Company's Strong Social Mission Helped Build Consumer Trust
Image credit: Courtesy of Malouf
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Every year, we publish the Entrepreneur 360 — a list of the 360 most well-rounded companies in America, based on an evaluation of impact, innovation, growth, leadership and business valuation. Our 2019 list debuts on Oct 1. In advance, we're checking in with some 2018 honorees, including the one below.

The Business Roundtable, a group of executives from major corporations including Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook, recently announced it was redefining the purpose of a corporation. Rather than just focusing on shareholders, the group agreed that businesses need to consider conscious capitalism as a way of moving forward.

“The American dream is alive but fraying,” Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan and chairman of The Business Roundtable, said in a statement. “Major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term. These modernized principles reflect the business community’s unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy that serves all Americans.”

Bedding company Malouf already knew this.

“We know that good business comes from good relationships, so we treat customers as friends and employees as family. We foster a culture of working hard, living healthy, eating great, having fun and giving back,” the company states on its website.

Malouf earned the number-three spot on the 2018 Entrepreneur 360 list, a ranking that looks at five metrics — impact, growth, leadership, valuation and innovation — to determine business success. The company aims to use its strong social mission to not only empower its employees but also the community, including recently donating beds to a domestic violence shelter through its foundation. 

Related: See the Entire Entrepreneur 360 List Here

Entrepreneur caught up with Sam Malouf, the company's co-founder and CEO, to talk about impact, culture and the leadership skills needed to propel his company forward. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

How do you define success?

Sustaining business — building something great and growing — and retaining employees is our biggest marker of success. When Kacie [my co-founder and wife] and I started this, we knew we wanted to exist as a positive part of people’s lives, not just a tolerable part. And I don’t want to keep the talents of this company limited to what we produce. I want to use our success to support others. We created the Malouf Foundation in 2016 because we had the means to support a charity with 100 percent flow-through, and we’re fighting child sexual exploitation and trafficking every day. The foundation feels like the greatest success to me.

How do you build a strong company culture?

There’s no perfect formula for building company culture — you just need to listen to your employees and support them. The well-being of our employees is a substantial focus for me. The company offers benefits that provide security and peace of mind, like 100 percent paid insurance premiums. At our headquarters in Logan, Utah, you can eat a gourmet lunch in the kitchen, exercise in our on-site gym and visit our in-house salon — all for free. Employees at the non-headquarters locations are provided gym memberships and catered lunches. These benefits grew not only from a desire to have happy, healthy employees but also efficient ones. 

What are your best practices and advice for retaining customers?

The same principles of how we treat people inside the organization apply to how we treat people outside the organization. To keep consumers invested in your brand, stand for something that’s bigger than business and bigger than money. For us, we recently became a benefit corporation, which means that we’re concerned not only with revenue but also corporate social responsibility, workers, the community and the environment. Customers, especially young shoppers, are looking for companies they feel good about and driving businesses to be accountable for every choice. Millennial shoppers are willing to put their money where their mouths are, so be ready to impress them.

How do you define your leadership style, and what can others learn from it?

I’ve always tried to lead by example. I work hard, and I expect my employees to bring that same kind of fire to the table. Positive pressure to exceed expectations is exciting. We invest in talented people and push them to explore their skill sets. I always encourage our managers to hire people that are better than themselves, so we’re constantly improving. I think it’s also important to be approachable. When your employees have access to you and feel comfortable approaching you with ideas, a world of possibilities opens up.

What's one trait that's helped you get to where you are today?

Empathy. I’m constantly working on it and trying to see things from different points of view. At the heart of every disagreement are two people who are passionate about their opinions, which means they care about your company. They care so much they are willing to fight for it.

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