Only In Louisville: Louisville Bedding
good folks over at Louisville Bedding have a labor secret that we’re
letting out of the bag. “Myrtle” is a loyal, long-time employee that
never tires, never takes vacation, and requires no salary. But don’t
get too cozy with congratulations for Myrtle’s management team, because
Myrtle has the cushiest job in town. Literally.
Obviously, Myrtle is a machine but she doesn’t replace an able body. Her
job is to test the commitment that her company promises for pillows
that last up to 10 years. Myrtle simulates sleep over a 10-year period;
rotating the pillows, fluffing and lifting weight up and down, as a
head would for the calculated number of times this would happen in a
decade. Director of Marketing, Mandy Talbert, calls this and everything
that goes into research at Louisville Bedding, the science of sleep.
“The consumer theory,” says Mandy, “is that you want to buy pillows that are “firm” or “extra firm” so that they will break down over time and last longer. But the reality is that you can get what you want from the beginning and it will hold up if it’s a quality product.”
That’s just the beginning of this sleep science. Mandy also explains the position factor. “For example,” she says, “if you sleep on your stomach, you’ll want a pillow that is a bit flat so your neck isn’t lifted too high. And if you sleep on your side, you should have a pillow that gives more support to your neck.”
Clearly, this attention to detail is at the core of the company’s success. With over 700 employees in Kentucky, Louisville Bedding is a significant contributor to the local job market while servicing retail outlets and boutiques all over the country. But they are refocusing on building more sales relationships in the area, says Mandy, as a business model for sustainability.
“Being green isn’t just about having a recycled product anymore,” she says, “it’s about transportation and energy as well. We would like to develop more relationships with hotels and universities in the state. It’s a real movement.”
So how does Myrtle fit into this movement? “Louisville Bedding is a member of LIBA and one of our commitments is to preserve the unique community character of Metro Louisville. I can’t imagine a more unique character than Myrtle.”
Only In Louisville: Tilford Dobbins Alexander PLLC
“When I tell people I’m an attorney,” says Patrick Schmidt, “I usually get the ‘eye roll’. Then I say, ‘I’m the good guy. I don’t screw anybody over but the IRS!’”
If that’s not charming enough, Patrick uses this expertise to spearhead Louisville small business growth. His firm helped negotiate the deals for projects that were the beginning of a downtown revival early in the last decade.
“No one was taking risks downtown back then,” says Patrick, “but we were able to qualify certain projects for historic tax credit financing and state tax tourism-based incentives. One in particular was only the second deal of its kind to go through in Kentucky.” Adds Patrick, “These projects were at the forefront of the development and preservation of multiuse historic buildings in the downtown area and there were so many unique elements to the deal, we had to go to St. Louis to get financing.”
Sounds like big business, right? But Patrick refers to his firm, Tilford Dobbins Alexander, as the ‘hometown law firm’ with big ideas. They are one of very few law firm members of LIBA because very few firms with their expertise will meet the qualifications that other firms can’t, such as making all of their decisions locally. They have also been around town for over 100 years which is above and beyond the LIBA criteria. But Patrick is an overachiever.
“I’m a lawyer and a CPA because I’ve always been good with numbers as well,” says Patrick. “I was the only one of my friends in college who could remember how many beers he’d had the night before.”
Patrick has been with Tilford Dobbins Alexander since 1999 and is encouraged by the home-grown success of some Louisville businesses, insisting that developing local talent is the key to Louisville’s future. “I work with local, entrepreneurial people mostly,” says Patrick “to find ways to help them grow.”
Tilford Dobbins Alexander, PLLC
Only In Louisville: Highland Cleaners
Let’s start with Project Runway. Fashion designer, Elisa Jimenez, was an eccentric contestant on season four of the hit reality TV series and caused quite a stir with her “spit” markings on the fabric. Consensus on the show was that Jimenez’s practice of measuring was not unique but rather gross. When asked about her technique by Entertainment Weekly.com, Jimenez replied, “Has anyone done research on what dry cleaning does? If you want to get into a big stink, let’s talk about that.” So, let’s talk about it with Anne Nash, president of Highland Cleaners, a Louisville local business since 1944.
“It’s a fact that the man-made substances used by most dry cleaning services,” says Anne, “is not only harmful to the environment but to employees who work with the substance on a daily basis and also to the consumers who trust us with their clothes."
Highland Cleaners opened its doors in 1944 using natural solvents but by the time Anne’s father, Robert Jones, bought the business in 1952, the toxic, man-made solvents were already on the market. “Dad stuck with the natural solvents which have now been proven to be better for the environment, for people and, as it turns out, even for your clothes,” Anne says with pride and adds that the natural solvents are simply more gentle on the clothes and won’t degrade them over time or worse, damage them.
Customers must agree with Highland’s philosophy because Anne can now boast that there are 12 Highland Cleaners in the Louisville area with the newest location on Bardstown Road at Edgeland. But this new opening doesn’t just mark further success for the locally owned business, the new building is actually LEED certified and takes the Highland Cleaners environmental commitment to a whole new level.
“We’ve done a major push in the company,” says Anne, “and have changed all of our lighting to environment-friendly lighting, we are recycling all hangers and the biodegradable plastic we are using contains a pellet that will completely breakdown between nine months and five years.” Most plastics take about 90 years to breakdown in a landfill.
All of this would make anyone – even Elisa Jimenez – rethink dry cleaning as a practice. Most impressive, however, is that Highland Cleaners isn’t abiding by regulation. All of their progressive business practices are simply a result of initiative and Anne says that she is very aware that her business is part of a community.
“Louisville is a great city with a lot to offer culturally,” she says, “but by making businesses progressive and innovative, we can begin attracting people right out of college who may want to make Louisville their home. We have to make Louisville an attractive place for the future. This will be the key to the city’s growth,” Anne adds, “which will expand our population and be good for all local business.”
Only In Louisville:
Red's Comfort Foods
Robert Martin leans in close and smiles as he describes some of the ingredients for his Big Blue, a specialty hot "daug" created for the Wildcat faithful, as if he was admitting to insider trading. “I start with a sweet Italian Turkey sausage,” he says, “then top it with grilled peppers & onions, then add bleu cheese, and Red's mustard. The combined flavors makes it something special.” He goes on to describe the Louisville Lip, named after Muhammad Ali, as “spicy and sassy, and if you’re not careful, after the first bite, it will bite you back. It’s for Heavyweights and not Amateurs!”
Red’s Comfort Foods promises Red’s favorite daugs and barbecue sandwiches as well as some surprises on opening day to celebrate. With a new year, new arena and new mayor whom Robert believes will have a new approach to downtown, Robert says, “Fourth Street Live is fine, but that strip could be anywhere. Visitors come to Red’s for the local flavor and leave taking pictures and making it an experience, because they’re not going to find a place like this in their own town. And that is the kind of thing we should be offering in downtown Louisville; a unique experience.”
A welcome addition this year at Red’s will be extra hands. “I’ve always done this with minimum assistance,” says Robert, “but now I’ll have help and we will be able to serve more people faster during lunch hours and be ready for the late night crowd after midnight.” And when asked if big crowds will be expected this season for Red’s, Robert says he definitely subscribes to the tried-and-true philosophy that when you provide great value and quality food, they will come. “Louisville is now on the verge of creating a thriving downtown scene,” says Robert. “You have several destination points, and all the city has to do is develop the corridors that link those hot spots. We want a situation where people are exploring the downtown area; going to favorite places and encountering new ones along the way.”
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