Made in America: Mattresses created in SF


On one of San Francisco's proudest streets, in one of its oldest buildings, here is a venerable name for you – McRoskey -- a mattress company that has somehow survived despite being older than all of us.

McRoskey Mattress company president Robin Azevedo is the third generation. Her grandfather, Edward McRoskey, was a mattress equipment salesman from Chicago who came to San Francisco with his brother Leonard in 1898.

If they were to visit the factory on Minnesota Street today, those brothers would be proud to see the company they founded still going strong.

"The benefit of doing it ourselves is that we're in charge of the quality," said Azevedo.

That's easy to say, but not so easy to do. When McRoskey Airflex says they make their mattresses from scratch in America, they mean it. They blend the cotton to create the batting. They make the bed coils, which begin as a raw wire -- manufactured in California -- then turned, bent, twisted by machine and finished by former street sweeper Nay Sauchow.

"All hand-made, yes. By all of our hands," said Sauchow.

They build mattresses the old fashioned way around here. Same as they always have, as reflected through almost a century's worth of orders and receipts that remain on file.

The system is definitely old-school, but it works. If a customer calls asking about any order dating back to at least 1921, employees can look in their paper files and find out in roughly 15 seconds. So when, you might wonder, did McRoskey Airflex get computers?

"We started in 1998," said Azevido.

Clearly, McRoskey Airflex does not bend with the normal financial winds. They're not about quantity. According to company vice president Rob Burke, where some mattress companies might turn out 1,500 units a day.

"We vary a lot. So it will be anywhere from seven to 12 a day. It's not a lot of mattresses," said Burke.

Though they can cost upwards of $5,000 each and customers may have to wait three weeks for delivery, the mattresses have a 10-year warranty.

"Other products don't last as long," said Azevedo. When asked if they were going to put themselves out of business by making such well-made mattresses. She replied, "We could."

"We could have made decisions along the road to move the company, to make it elsewhere, to make it in a less expensive manner. We believed in the product and the family name," said Burke.

So in a hurry up, turn it over, make a buck, build-it-overseas kind of world, here's your local contradiction -- McRoskey Airflex is 113 years old, with 31 employees, and is succeeding the old way.

Every Wednesday this month, World News with Diane Sawyer is airing special "Made In America" reports.

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