Tempur-Pedic Inc. is the Lexington, Kentucky-based subsidiary of Tempur World, makers of products using a viscoelastic foam material (the original named Temper Foam) developed in the 1960s by NASA's Ames Research Center and refined by Swedish researchers. TEMPUR is Tempur-Pedic's version of Temper Foam, a breathable material that is able to distribute pressure or body weight over an entire surface, making it ideal for use in mattresses. The Tempur-Pedic Swedish Mattress is considered the first breakthrough in mattress design since the introduction of the innerspring mattress in 1925. A subsidiary, Tempur-Medical offers a complete program to prevent bed sores. In addition to mattresses, Tempur-Pedic also sells bed pillows, back support pillows, office chairs, recliners, and even bicycle seat covers, padded shoulder straps, and pet beds.
Temper Foam was developed in The Ames Research Center in 1966 Ames contracted Stencel Aero Engineering Corporation to help develop a safer seating system for commercial aircraft. Out of this effort a viscoelastic foam material was developed. Temper Foam was difficult to manufacture, very much dependent on maintaining proper humidity levels. In the early 1980s NASA put the formulation for the viscoelastic material in the public domain
Fagerdala World Foams. Through a subsidiary, Don Foam A/S, devoted a decade to perfecting the material for consumer use, in particular mattresses. Fagerdala introduced the Tempur-Pedic Swedish Mattress in 1991
Incorporated as Tempur-Pedic Inc. in 1992 by 1995 the company was generating $6.5 million in annual sales. In 1996 Tempur-Pedic organized its medical business into a separate subsidiary, Tempur-Medical Inc. Its approach, focusing on the problem of bed sores, an increasing subject of litigation, and over the next few years developed the Tempur-Medical Ultimate Skin Management Program. Rather than simply selling mattresses to a nursing home, the company offered a comprehensive program, charging on a per-year resident basis. In addition to supplies, including a Tempur-Pedic mattress, the program provided insurance, covering the first $250,000 of a judgment or settlement over bedsore litigation. Tempur-Pedic controlled just 3 percent of the national market for hospital and nursing home mattresses in 2002, but management projected that within three years it would command a 25 percent share.
After ten years Tempur-Pedic posted average yearly sales increases of 49 percent, with sales reaching the $150 million range in 2002. Also in that year the parent company was sold to two private equity firms after Fagerdala decided it needed to divest the business and gain liquidity. A limited auction was conducted and the two bidders, TA Associates and Friedman Fleischer & Lowe, ultimately decided to combine their efforts, resulting in a $350 million leveraged buyout.
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