Brooklyn Bedding is not, as its name would seem to suggest, headquartered in New York’s most populous borough. It’s based in Phoenix (and named after the founder’s daughter). Inside its 145,000-square-foot factory, on Camelback Road near 43rd Avenue, more than 150 different types of mattresses are manufactured on any given day: fancy ones with cooling technology, custom-crafted beds for RVs, sleeper cabs for long-haul truckers.
And soon, most likely, hospital beds.
“We knew right away we could pivot to making more medical supplies,” says Amy Dimond, a director at Brooklyn Bedding. “We have a fully owned factory with a cut-and-sew area. And we’ve been making fuel bucket beds for 16 years now.”
“Fuel buckets” are another name for those aforementioned trucker beds. They’re made for crisis situations — most often, a crash or rollover that causes a semi to leak large amounts of fuel. Brooklyn Bedding’s design (vinyl, cotton, some smartly positioned corner seals) allows the mattress to double as a giant paper towel in an emergency, mitigating a potentially disastrous environmental outcome. (This happens more often than you’d like to think.)
“It’s perfect for a hospital,” Dimond says of the bed. “It’s waterproof, hygienic, easily sanitized.”
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In mid-March, when it became clear that COVID-19 represented a national medical emergency, Brooklyn Bedding started thinking about how it could modify the fuel bucket design for hospitals that would soon be in need. That took about a day. Then, the company put the word out that it had the manufacturing capabilities to help address the coming bed shortage. It set up a dedicated email address (email@example.com) and asked the public for help connecting with hospitals and state and federal officials with the authority to facilitate orders and supplies. “All we need is the government’s attention to get started,” owner and CEO John Merwin said at the time.
“We were inundated,” Dimond says of the response. “Within 48 hours, we had numerous leads. We’ve since heard from all levels of Arizona government — FEMA, DEMA.”
Brooklyn Bedding operates an on-demand factory, which means the 200 employees don’t even need to ramp up production. Once the orders come through, they’re ready to start manufacturing thousands of mattresses per day, Dimond says. The mattresses will be provided to hospitals and health care systems at cost, Dimond adds, and the company’s fleet of trucks will deliver them free within the Valley.
“This is the greatest challenge our country has faced since World War II,” Merwin says. “We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and do our part.”