By June Mathews
After 23 years of building up one of the most well-known retail mattress companies in the Southeast, Keith Krininger was ready to sell.
Neither health nor finances were a factor; he simply felt the time had come to give up the daily grind and reap the rewards of his hard-won success. Provided, that is, the right buyer came along.
You see, Krininger’s company, Bedzzz Express, had been his life’s work for 23 years, and he wasn’t merely an overseer. He was heavily involved in the day-to-day operations, including buying, merchandising and advertising for every store the company opened. So, considering the massive amount of time and effort he’d invested, he naturally didn’t want to sell to just anybody.
“From day one, I liked the idea of a good local family buying the business and keeping the name,” he said.
Enter Clark Cooper, a Birmingham lawyer tiring of the legal rat race and seeking a change.
“I had always dreamed of owning my own business, so I hired a broker and the search began,” said Cooper. “But I had certain requirements: I was not going to leave Birmingham, and I wanted a company with a product that everybody needs.”
Long story short, the two men met, a deal ultimately was struck, and neither could be happier with the outcome. Krininger got the kind of buyer he wanted, and Cooper got a local company with a product needed by anybody who owns a bed. And as a bonus, each of them made a new friend.
“Clark and I have had a great relationship since we met,” said Krininger. “I plan to stay on for a while as a consultant and help him with the transition. What he wants to do is expand on what I’ve done, and I’m happy to say he’s kept all our employees. I’ve been blessed with a great group of employees and little turnover, and that’s really helped build the company.”
As for Cooper, he fully recognizes the value of keeping the prior owner and a host of experienced employees involved in the operations.
“After 23 years in the business, Keith has a wealth of knowledge that I can learn from,” he said, “and one of the big reasons I bought the business was I liked him. He’s never steered me wrong. And the employees are all nice people and team players, just a really good group.”
A Company of Friends
Krininger founded Bedzzz Express in 1995 after working for 10 years as a Serta sales representative.
“We first opened four stores, which may have been a little ambitious,” he said. “It was tough for the first two years, but we kept plugging away, even opening a fifth store the second year. We kept doing better every year and by the eighth year, we were the largest mattress retailer in Alabama.”
There are now 50 Bedzzz Express stores across the Southeast, 34 of them owned by licensees.
“I enjoy working with our licensees,” said Cooper. “We have quickly become friends, and they’re a big part of Bedzzz Express’ success and future growth.”
Over the past two decades and longer, the company has built its reputation by offering the best mattresses at the best prices, along with its exclusive Easy as 1-2-3 plan, the best return policy in the industry. Inventory includes top brands such as Serta, i-Comfort, Beautyrest, Sealy, Optimum, Tempur-Pedic, Stearns & Foster and Bedzzz by Orderest.
The company also is known for honoring the human factor – customers, as well as individuals in need.
“If we make our customers happy, we know they’ll come back,” said Cooper, “so we go overboard to be accommodating. We also are very involved in charitable causes, which is another thing that attracted me to this business. If churches or other charitable organizations request help, we do whatever we can to provide it.”
The company slogan, “Where Dreams Begin”, likely means more to Cooper since he started his new job at Bedzzz Express in mid-March.
“I’m really enjoying this,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to growing the business even more.”
For more information on Bedzzz Express, visit bedzzzexpress.com.