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  • Top 7 reasons why the waterbed industry failed and one big reason it will evolve again.

    As a past president of the waterbed manufacturers association and President of the Specialty Sleep Association (the Successor organization to the waterbed manufactures association) I have experienced many of the highs and lows of the waterbed industry. My companies, Boyd Waterbeds and Royal Waterbeds were recognized as the waterbed manufacturer of the year several different years and retailer of the year for many years after. My retail company, Royal Waterbeds Inc., was recognized by INC Magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing privately held companies in the US for 5 consecutive years (which very few companies in any industry hDenny Boydave been able to achieve). So, I do know little bit about the waterbed industry from inception, thru the go-go growth years, all the way to its decline and its current state.  I get asked all the time “Do people still buy waterbeds?” “What ever happened to waterbeds?” and “Why did people stop buying Waterbeds?” “Do they still make waterbeds?” Here is my insider’s response to those questions.

    1. Waterbeds started as a counter culture product, and then their customers went mainstream. Waterbeds were the bed of choice for the Baby Boomers in the 60’s and 70’s.  Sex, drugs, Rock N Roll - and waterbeds defined the free spirt of a generation. We called regular innerspring beds “dead beds” and threw them off balconies from our hotel rooms at waterbed conventions. We were the anti-establishment bed. We were rebels with a cause. We were AGAINST the dull existence of an old innerspring technology and FOR the fun and support waterbeds offered. We were all about Sleep and Sex.” Push once – get two free” is what the salesman told me when I bought my first waterbed in college. The sexual revolution played out on a waterbed. Then we went got drafted to go to Vietnam, got jobs, got married, had kids and bought a house. We started to act more like our parents, which we never thought would happen. Would our parents sleep on a waterbed? Probably not. We started to have an identity crisis.

    2. No one wins a price war. My first Royal Waterbeds store opened in 1977. No one came to my store. I had no funds to advertise and was economically embarrassed. I called the local newspaper to do a story on the new novel idea of opening a waterbed store. It made the front page as a tongue in cheek story. It worked. My first sale was to a paraplegic gentleman that bought a heated waterbed with no headboard for $500. He loved it and told all his friends. I began doing so many deliveries (after the store closed each night) that I had to hire my first employee. Luckily I sold to a lot of people that had a lot of friends. Business was booming and life was good. Success breeds competition. Just as rapidly as I could gather enough cash to open another store, two more competitors would open near me. The war was on and we were caught in the crossfire. Instead of selling the benefits of our product, the mantra became “We will not be undersold”. Competitors would send secret shoppers into our stores to poke holes in our floor display waterbeds. They would plaster signs on our front door at night saying “We will crush you”. Life was crazy. Six years after I sold my first waterbed for $500, I was selling the same waterbed for $99. Fortunately that was a starter model and we had about 50 other more expensive models to sell as the $99 model was a loss leader. Unfortunately waterbeds were advertised as cheap beds, so they were then categorized that way by the consumer. The waterbed manufacturers association began a tax on the manufacturers to fund a national advertising campaign focusing on the benefits of waterbeds, but it was too little too late. The train was moving fast and it was off the track.

    3. There’s motion in the Ocean…..Waterbeds Moved. Of course they did! That was not only the fun part, but it was what enabled the bed to reach up and contour to every part of your body which reduced your pressure points resulting in less tossing and turning, creating an awesome night’s sleep. There is yin and yang with everything. What made the product great also turned some people off. It seemed like every customer that came into my store would say “Do people get seasick on waterbeds?”, and then they would have a wide eyed nervous laugh. I would laugh with them then explain that the bed would stop moving shortly after they stopped moving but the great part about a waterbed is that it prevented tossing and turning so you didn’t move much anyway. I got into manufacturing because I had some ideas on how to resolve the wave management so that we could overcome this onerous objection. I created a number of different patented waterbeds which restricted the wave movement greatly while still allowing the contouring capability of the bed. This was an industry game changer. It gave a great reason for people who normally wouldn’t be interested a chance to come into the store and learn about the brand new technology that was making a splash in the waterbed market. The waveless waterbeds were a hit. Their initial objections turned into an opportunity that would set waterbeds down a path of success for many years to come. Still, our industry sold over 50% “free flow” waterbeds. In my experience about half of the customers who bought a free flow waterbed got rid of their waterbed within 5 years. There wasn’t an easy way to remarket to these early adopters who were dissatisfied with their initial purchase.

    4. Waterbeds were user friendly – until it was time to move. Having set up hundreds of hardside wooden waterbed frames and filling waterbeds I can say that it was not overly challenging but it did take about an hour from start to finish (sometimes longer if they wanted to squeeze a king size bed into a twin size room). Customers were always anxious to help and were excited to get their new waterbed and try it out. Sometimes they would try it out before I was able to gather my tools and remove the boxes. The product lived up to its unadvertised reputation and was very “user friendly” until it was time to move.   We would include a Blue Magic Fill and Drain Kit with every bed sold, which had conditioner to keep the water clean and a siphon pump which would connect with your bathroom faucet to drain your mattress. This worked well but sometimes it would take 90 minutes to drain a king size waterbed, so many people would then throw the hose out their window while draining. Sometimes the hose would then end up in the window of the apartment directly below them. This was not a good way to meet your neighbors. Many times screws, brackets, parts would be lost in the moving process making it next to impossible to set up your bed when you got to your new home. Moving was stressful enough for most people without adding another layer of complication.

    5. We fought the law. Many landlords mistakenly thought that waterbeds were too heavy and would crash through the floor of their apartment building if the waterbed was filled up. Actually, they weighed less than 40 lbs. per sq. ft. which is much less than your refrigerator or bathtub so it was a myth that waterbeds would crash through floors. It was not uncommon for a landlord to include a “no waterbeds clause” in the lease. The Waterbed Manufactures Association was able to lobby 3 or 4 state legislatures to make the waterbed exclusion clause illegal. It didn’t really do much to stop landlords from prohibiting waterbeds in their leases. We did a lot of nighttime deliveries for that reason.

    6. Hardside vs. softside waterbeds. The waterbed industry began with Charles Hall’s college project of sealing 2 sheets of vinyl together, putting a valve on one side and filling it with water.  This was a good beginning but not enough to create a viable consumer product. It required putting a safety liner, a 2” x 10” wooden frame to contain the waterbed mattress, a pedestal to lift the product off the floor and plywood decking to support the mattress. I bought a small furniture factory in Anaheim, CA. and converted it to a waterbed frame and bedroom furniture factory called Accent Furniture.  I also started a waterbed sheet manufacturing company in Missouri called Snuggles to manufacture waterbed sheets, mattress pads and comforters. These products were a great complement to the waterbed mattress. Consumers came into a waterbed store ostensibly to buy a waterbed, however the vinyl waterbed mattress was just a small part of what was included in their total purchase. Many of our customers bought a complete bedroom set, an upgraded semi-waveless or waveless mattress, solid state heaters, upgraded drawer pedestals and padded rails to help them get in and out of the bed. Of course you needed special size sheets, mattress pads and comforters because waterbed sizes were different than regular dead beds. The vinyl waterbed mattress would usually cost less than $300 for a good waveless mattress, however, all of the other accessories could total over several thousand dollars. The waterbed mattress was the engine that drove the explosion of accessory sales which drove the revenue of waterbed stores. Then something disruptive happened, the soft sided waterbed. Now consumers could buy a waterbed mattress that looked like a regular innerspring mattress. The side rails were foam instead of wood. It used regular sheets, mattress pads and comforters so you no longer needed to buy them at a waterbed store. The average waterbed sale (including furniture and accessories) dropped from about $1700 to about $850. This product solved some aesthetic issues and was more practical because it used conventional bedding but it did not increase the unit volume or market share of waterbeds. It still had many of the challenges with filling and draining that was present with other waterbeds.  Now you can buy them without the need for a heater.

    7. Waterbed entrepreneurs were a different breed. Change, growth, innovation and profits were happening at an incredible pace. During the growth years there were many young entrepreneurs that were making vast amounts of money. Some were great marketers, some were great salespeople, some were very inspiring, some were very lucky and most all were great opportunists. Some of my retail friends that would purchase products from me would use a city map as a dart board for their location strategy for their next store. It actually worked well for several years. Since there was a great amount of innovation and new product development there were a lot of patents filed and granted during the late 70’s and throughout the 80’s. Most of the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s was spent in court for many manufacturers. Charles Hall sold rights to his waterbed patent to a legal syndicate that virtually sued the entire industry. Many waterbed manufactures were forced to defend themselves and pay outrageous amounts of legal fees, which resulted in them losing their businesses. No one wins those fights except the lawyers.Waterbed entrepreneurs were the ultimate risk takers, who stretched their people and capital to the limit, while simultaneously enjoying life to its fullest. Why not? We never felt the waterbed wave would end. In some ways it hasn’t. We still manufacture waterbeds in our Fontana, CA factory and ship waterbeds all over the world. Life is still great!Could waterbeds come back? Maybe. Thousands of true believers buy waterbeds every month even with some the challenges that come with the product. What if you could get all of the benefits of sleeping on water without the hassles? I see the next disruption of the mattress industry coming to your front door (literally- via UPS).

    The Evolution of Water

    izone-bedThe izone bed™ is a hybrid of water, memory foam and air. It has 7 adjustable support zones on each side of the bed.  Yes, these adjustable chambers are filled with water, but unlike a waterbed these 14 “calibrators” weigh only about 6 lbs. each and can be filled in just a few minutes from your bathroom faucet or kitchen sink. Each calibrator is filled to a designated fill level that equates to the desired firmness level that is ergonomic with your sleep style and body weight density. You can have a plush feel on one side of the bed and a firm feel on the other side of the bed. Each side of the bed can be adjusted to the desired firmness level in each of the 7 zones.

    The bed offers amazing support and contouring and there is zero motion transfer from either side of the bed as each calibrator is individually pocketed. Each calibrator has a water conditioner tablet in it already and there is no need to ever change the water or add another conditioner tablet. The mattress is light enough that there is no need to empty the water to move the mattress.

    We compress and roll the izone bed so it is conveniently shipped to your house in a box via UPS. It can be used with any foundation, platform bed or adjustable power base.

    The izone bed has:

    • Amazing comfort
    • Unparalleled support
    • Air flow throughout the mattress to keep you cool.
    • Adjustable support on either side of the bed
    • Adjustable support from head to toe on each side of the bed
    • Ships conveniently in a box via UPS
    • 100 night free trial with a money back satisfaction guarantee
    • 10 yr. warranty

    Our bodies consist of over 60% water. This is the most comfortable, convenient and compatible sleep system in the world (we are not bias, just proud of what this mattress can do for you).

  • To adjust or not adjust- that is the question-

    With the launch of the new izone 2.0 bed we are also introducing a new adjustable base that is a base in a box. It only takes 5 minutes to set-up and you are now able to lift the head or foot to any height you prefer. Have a lower back issue, raise the foot up until you feel that pressure relieve. Snore, raise the head a bit at night so your breathing passages are opened up. It also adjusts to your lifestyle- do you like to read or watch tv in bed? We offer it in Twin XL size which can be linked together to create a split King Size. Add an adjustable base to your izone bed that allows you to customize each side of the bed and you have truly entered the ME zone when it comes to your mattress!

  • What a difference the right pillow can make

    The izone pillow has built in gel calibrators that will grow taut when pressure is applied to them thus pushing back the right amount for each individual giving you the customized neck support you need to get a deep night's sleep. Doesn't matter if you're on your back or side (or do both during the night) the pillow responds to whatever pressure is applied so you always get the correct support level. Sleep for a week on a pillow that gives you the correct neck support and you will see why we say "No More pain in the Neck".

    The pillow is designed to maximize air flow while you breathe. Take notice of your current pillow tonight: does your neck tip toward your chest? This actually blocks your airflow and will cause many people to snore as they aren't getting clear airflow through their sinuses. The izone pillow allows your neck to tilt ever so slightly back so you are positioned to maximize the air flow through your sinuses.

    Best of all you have all this great technology and the pillow is super comfortable! The center of the pillow is filled with alternative down fiber which is fine and silky and lets your head lay in the middle of a fluffy cloud. You don't have to trade out comfort for support and can get to sleep faster and stay there longer.
    A lot goes into the izone pillow- the two gel filled calibrators are made with a high grade vegetable quality gel - (you could eat it but tastes yucky-) that allows for the gel to stay cool inside the pillow all night long. You can also put the calibrators into the refrigerator if you want something extra cool on those hot summer nights. They are made with super thick fiber laminated nylon so they cannot be punctured and survive many years of cooling use. We also use liquid gel infused memory foam that lets the material stay cool and gives it a nice flexible feel. The quality and weight we specify means your pillow will maintain its shape and feel for many years. The quilted high end fabric we use for the washable cover (this also houses the alternative fiber insert) lets you wash your pillow as often as you like. If you suffer from allergies the izone pillow is perfect for you.

    The izone pillow is a great investment (at $99) for your health and sleep quality. It makes a great gift for anyone you know that struggles at night or has neck pain. I was paying $99 per session at my physical therapist so I made it up quickly!

  • Getting the sleep you and your baby need while pregnant

    We got a new review the other day and the heading was It satisfied the pregnant wife. After searching the other reviews I can see we have at least four izone babies born or on the way. If you have had children then you know that last trimester is brutal on your back. It is hard to sleep and there seems to be no surface hard enough to relieve the pressure. This is an example where the izone bed comes to the rescue. As your pregnancy progresses you can make your lumbar zones firmer and those last 2 months super firm so you keep your back aligned. You will sleep much deeper and longer with the proper support. Happy momma hopefully means a happier baby. It certainly will mean a happier spouse. Better yet your spouse can keep their side of the bed at the support levels they like and you both will sleep happy. When super happy baby arrives mom can just set her zones to fit her fabulous post pregnancy self. Stephanie was one of our first moms on an izone bed and she is happy to report that her zones (and body) are back to normal and she and Alexia are sleeping through the night!
    Derek writes:
    " Our bed has been an absolute god-send for my pregnant wife, since she can change the position and zone firmness as she gets further along in her pregnancy."
    I checked in and his wife Bonnie will bring their new baby boy into the world late September. That means her back zones are heading into extra firm territory right about now and she is able to get the critical sleep her body needs.
    izone is the only mattress that you can customize to fit your body as it changes either through pregnancy or the natural spread of time. Everyone is shaped differently and izone can be customized to fit any shape or sleep position. No other bed does this. If you lose weight you can adjust the zones to the proper support level your new hot bod needs. Your spouse can do the same on their side. As your body changes your bed can change with you. With that peace of mind you will sleep like never before!!!

  • Adjustability that lets you (and your partner) truly sync with your bed

    Sync into bed. Cute saying but what does that really mean? It means a great deal. First all the sleep experts say it is important that each sleep partner have the comfort and support that they need in their mattress and go so far as to say to push two twin beds together to get there. A bed that adjusts on each side allow both partners to be happy in the same bed. This is the premise of an airbed and why many people have bought a number bed. The downside with air is to get it to be supportive you have to pump up the bed to a high number. When you do this it starts to get hard and uncomfortable so you let some air out and then you lose support and begin to jack knife into the bed. There is a direct trade off between support and comfort with air. Water on the other hand no matter how full you make it will still give and contour to your body. You can make your izone bed super firm and it still cushes and contours with you. With a number bed you set it lying on your back but when you turn onto your side it doesn’t change and gets too firm. With izone the water displaces as you move and will auto adjust to any position. With a number bed it will only let you adjust each side but with an izone bed you can adjust your side from top to bottom. I am a side sleeper so I have zone 1 and zone 2 set to medium plush and then go firmer through my lumber zones and I actually go even firmer under my knees to support my lower back, then my last two zones I taper back to medium. When I roll onto my back I displace less pressure under my shoulder zones so it self adjusts and firms up there. The physics of it are really cool. Some couples have big disparities in their size and sleep positions. The izone bed can be customized to fit any body and position. There is no better bed feel than a bed that customizes to you and uses a support system that feels absolutely wonderful. Even though the izone bed uses very little water the way it is contained into each engineered latex zone with the adjustable calibrator provides the physics for an amazing night’s sleep. So cute saying or not SYNC is the word that that best describes the izone experience.

  • Really?? It only takes a half hour to set up??

    I am writing this in need to come clean and give full disclosure on how we came up with the 30 minute set-up time. Denny and I (we are professionals) set up our King Size Z3 in 31 minutes. BUT , did I say we are professionals. No need to watch the video or read the instructions. We can fill the calibrators and burp them in just a couple minutes a piece in our laundry room that has a nice deep sink and counter. Did I mention we are professionals? So our customer  Brad who has bought two king izone Z3 beds tells me “no one but you and Denny” could actually set the bed up that fast. It took Carrie and I a good hour to get it done. I am reading the reviews as they come in and sure enough There is a theme- easy to do (it’s super simple)but a bit more time consuming than I expected. So here is the reality times for set-up for you non-professionals – yes a twin size will take a half hour, double about 45 mins, queen and king a good hour.  Again it is super simple- no tools needed. Your sleep health is worth one good hour of time investment………….Keep in mind if you buy at The Bedroom Store they will do it all for you for $99!

  • To Float or Not to Float

    We designed the izone bed to have a “free floating” memory foam comfort layer. This allows for unrestricted contouring as you move in the bed.  If you have an adjustable base your “free floating” comfort layer may shift to or fro depending on how you adjust your bed. You can simply unzip the top and reposition if need be but if you don’t like to “float” you can place your comfort layer directly on top of the zones engineered latex and zip the gray inner lining over it and your comfort layer will no longer shift/float.  Most izoners prefer to free float but you have the option to customize the bed if you prefer not to.

  • What’s with all the 5 Star Reviews?

    Yesterday we got our first 4 star review. We have mixed feelings as we had customers review our website and they said when they only see 5 star reviews they think they are planted reviews. None of our reviews are planted!! We have only gotten 5 stars so far! So we were kinda happy to get a 4 star since this may help people trust the reviews more. BUT…….OK he said the bed ( Z2) was great and we think the lower rating was due to a zipper design feature on the inner liner. We don’t want to appear defensive but the double zipper is on the removable washable cover so you can easily take it on and off to wash it- which you should do every few months. You will rarely access the other zipper thus the reason to make it a single zipper. Anyhooo we realize we need to get over it, we are selling beds as fast as we can make them and the reviews will keep rolling in so we can’t defend every issue that arises, can we???

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