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Banner Mattress & Furniture Co. will officially shut down later this year, but a group of four employees including the firm’s general manager have plans to build a new business around the 85-year-old company’s central Toledo mattress factory.
Bard Strand, Banner’s general manager, said the family that owns the company wants to get out of the business.
“They want to unload what they own currently — inventory, real estate, you name it. But a deal has been made between the current owner and myself with my partners that we will take over the factory, factory equipment, warehouse, and everything we have downtown.”
The new company will be called Banner Factory Direct LLC.
Mr. Strand said a liquidation sale of the inventory will begin in mid-June and will likely be finished by the end of September.
Once that’s finished, Banner Mattress will officially go out of business. But Mr. Strand said his group anticipates taking over operations the very next day.
Banner will permanently close its two factory-owned stores on Hill Avenue and West Alexis Road in Toledo.
Banner leases a third store on East South Boundary Street in Perrysburg. Mr. Strand said his group is working with the property owner to keep the store for the new company.
“Other locations are being looked at, but that is a little premature to talk about. But there are going to be two to three retail locations in metro Toledo plus our mattress factory and distribution center, which is where it’s always been down off Monroe Street,” he said.
Matthew Karp, the president and owner of Banner Mattress, could not be reached for comment on Monday. A message left at his office was not returned.
The company was founded in Toledo in 1929. Mr. Karp’s father, Myron Karp, bought the business from the founding family in 1972. Under his leadership, Banner expanded from a mattress manufacturer to a full retail operation.
Myron Karp died in 2004.
Banner currently has fewer than 50 employees, Mr. Strand said. Of those, only four work at the firm’s factory. Still, Banner cranked out some 8,000 mattresses last year.
Mr. Strand expects production to remain steady, though he’s not sure how many employees the new company will need.
“That is far from sorted out yet,” he said. “Some current employees will absolutely come on to the new company, but that’s all I can say right now.”
Mr. Strand, who has been with Banner for nine years, said the new stores will continue to carry a variety of furniture, but will be smaller in size than the two Banner superstores. A name for the retail stores has not yet been decided upon.
Though they intend to start in metro Toledo, the group believes the smaller store format will be better suited to expanding beyond the region in the future.
“I think the company in some shape or form should continue. The thing has been here for 85 years, the Toledo community has been very good to us all these years, and the company is a very valid business. It’s viable, it’s good, so why not continue it?”