There is a wide variety of manufacturers, divided into broad categories that can be "differentiated" by the corporate culture instilled by their ownership in the case of larger manufacturers, or the personal values of the owners in the case of smaller manufacturers. They are also widely differentiated by the value they produce, their knowledge and skills, and how they incorporate these into every mattress that they make. In spite of most of the information you will be exposed to, so-called "off-brand" manufacturers are quietly making better mattresses than any of their more well-known counterparts ... and doing so at a significant difference in quality and price. Knowing which of these brands have better value or even more importantly, knowing how to tell based on the materials they use and the information they will share with you, can save any consumer a significant amount and allow them to get much greater value for the money that they spend.
These manufacturers fall into four main categories, depending on their size and the areas that they service, and knowing these and some more general information about each of them can help you determine which may better suit your own unique needs and circumstances. The differences will not be so much about the brand name itself, as many of the largest "name brands" are also the source of the highest levels of complaints and consumer dissatisfaction, but about the materials used and the quality of construction that is in the mattress itself, regardless of brand. As a group, these many different manufacturers make a huge variety of mattresses and can be very different from each other in the options they provide and in their mattresses themselves.
They do however have one thing in common and that is they are all considered to be "off brands" by the larger manufacturers who would like nothing better than consumers who never did any further research into any of them. We have used this "off-brand" name throughout the website to describe them because in spite of the fact that it has some "derogatory" implications attached to it, we believe that producing an "off-brand" is something they can be proud of and that in almost every case one of these represents the best choice for any consumers. It didn't take nearly as long in the earliest part of our research to discover this than it did to actually come to realize and understand that we weren't "missing something" in making a statement such as this.
In the 2002 census, there 597 mattress manufacturers in the US and over 100 more in Canada. There are probably many less than this 9 years later. These mattress manufacturers (especially the larger ones) will sometimes produce their own materials in a mattress but in more commonly they will purchase raw materials, fabricate it to their needs, and then use it to produce their mattresses. In other cases, they will purchase materials that have already been fabricated and primarily "put the materials together" in a mattress using the skills and knowledge they have learned, in many cases over several generations.
Regardless of which group they fall in, the materials and quality of construction, the length of their supply chain from raw materials to consumer, the level of profits that are added at each level of the chain, and perhaps most of all, the values of the company itself, either on a corporate level in the case of larger brands or on a more personal level in the case of smaller privately owned brands, are the distinguishing features that determine whether they are already in a "mattress underground" that is already "resisting" the general trends of the industry. We hope that these will also choose to become part of "The Mattress Underground" itself and help them to re-connect with the millions of consumers that are looking for the kind of quality and values that they have always incorporated into their business.
These four main categories of manufacturers each have a separate page in this section which describes them in more detail but in general, they are:
National manufacturers: These make mattresses that are sold throughout most of North America through various distribution chains. In some areas, it often appears that the largest of these companies, especially if they are in the "top 5" or happen to be an "S" brand, in combination with the larger chain stores, have such dominance that there seems to be little else available. This is rarely the case and it is often a matter of knowing where to look. There can be some real surprises here too with the value of a few national brands, sometimes even through these same chain stores, although they are more few and far between and it sometimes takes a little bit of knowledge or help in finding them.
Regional manufacturers: These are usually available in a region or several states or provinces and some of the larger have a much larger presence in their region than they do in other areas of the country. There is a wide range of value here and again, knowing what to look for and how to recognize the better ones can make a big difference in your choices. Some of the best of these have very good value.
Local manufacturers: There are hundreds of these spread out over all of North America and few of them are well known outside of a very small local area. Even in cities where they produce their mattresses, many consumers never discover them in the "noise" of the heavy advertising of other larger manufacturers and retailers. While there is a range of quality and value in every group including this one, they are well worth the time and effort spent to find them as they often have excellent value.
Online manufacturers: Many of these specialize in online sales of higher quality "do it yourself mattresses". Here again, there is a range of quality and value but the best of these are an intriguing and growing segment of the industry that as a group produce some very high-value mattresses. Some of them may have a retail outlet or even several but they are widely available anywhere because of their focus on online sales, service, and shipping.