Local bedding company changes lanes to produce field hospital mattresses during COVID-19

Becky Campbell • Apr 6, 2020 at 7:30 PM

When the novel coronavirus took hold of the country and state leaders issued stay-at-home orders, Johnson City Bedding was just one of many businesses to lay off most of its employees.

With bedding stores shut down as non-essential, there just weren’t any orders to fill. But that’s changed now and Executive Vice President Mark Campbell said he has more than two dozen workers busy filling orders for field hospital mattresses.

“We’re building a load today to go to Detroit,” Campbell said in a phone interview Monday. “We’re one of several factories in the country doing this because they have a 1,700-bed facility that needed to be populated. We’re doing about 420 of them today.”

Campbell said two other states have placed 1,000 mattress orders that workers will start on as soon as the Detroit order is filled. Other mattress companies across the nation are also helping in the rush for hospital mattresses.

“It came on very quickly and it’s almost overwhelming how much we’re doing trying to get it done for them in time,” he said.

Campbell said employees working on the orders are happy to be contributing to the cause.

“What we’re doing is making a contribution to people’s comfort who are suffering,” Campbell said

One employee wanted to stay laid-off unless the company started any work to contribute to relief efforts. That employee came back willingly to work on the new orders.

As a safety precaution, anyone entering the building has their temperature taken and must wear a mask, Campbell said. “We’re cleaning every surface as much as possible during the day, before we start, after we’re done. We’re doing our best to mitigate the circumstances.”

Even though the mattresses are simple in design, one problem Campbell has seen with the production is getting his hands on the raw material.

“The raw materials for these kinds of beds are scarce,” he said. “They come from Asia. There’s nobody in the states making the products so we’re beginning to see a scarcity with the raw materials themselves.”

Campbell described the field hospital mattress as a block of foam covered by a flame retardant sock and a nylon bag. “It’s not sophisticated. it has to fit the construction the field hospital beds,” he said. 

Even though the company already made mattresses, Campbell said the whole assembly line had to be reworked to make the hospital mattresses.

He plans on churning out 480 a day until the 2,400 mattress order is filled. On a big week, he said, the company typically produces 750 to 1,000 mattresses.

Johnson City Bedding is a local company owned by the Ed Parker family.

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