The legacy of Raymour and Flanigan is one entrenched in family heritage.
In this episode of the Sleep Summit Show, hosted by Mark Kinsley, we gain insight into the remarkable journey of Seth Goldberg, President of Raymour and Flanigan and third generation retailer. With over 150 stores, Raymour and Flanigan is a prominent northeastern retailer renowned for its high-end furnishings and exceptional service.
The discussion includes the rich legacy of Raymour and Flanigan, tracing back to Seth’s grandfather, who laid the foundation for the company’s success. Seth shares anecdotes about his father’s entrepreneurial spirit, practical business approach, and effective communication skills, which have profoundly influenced the company’s values and vision.
Seth also discusses Raymour and Flanigan’s expansion into the mattress and sleep wellness industry, highlights the company’s commitment to fostering a strong community and company culture (including how they transformed traditional holiday parties into vibrant holiday breakfasts, providing a platform for associates to freely express themselves, share ideas, and improve company operations), their efforts to promote sustainability and learning a few lessons from past failures and experiences.
Seth’s candid discussion of the challenges encountered in e-commerce, running brick and mortar and the valuable insights gained, has enabled Raymour and Flanigan to continually adapt and evolve in the ever-changing retail landscape.
Don’t miss this week’s episode!
Mark Kinsley: He is the President of Raymour and Flanagan at Furniture and Mattress Powerhouse. With 150 locations across the Northeast and 6,000 associates, Seth Goldberg is here and the Sleep Summit Show begins right now.
Mark Kinsley: Welcome to the Sleep Summit Show. I’m Mark Kinsley, Seth Goldberg, thank you so much for being on the show today.
You’ve been. In business with the business for 15 years. Raymour & Flanagan has been around for 75 years. You watched your grandfather and his brother, and then your dad build the business and now you’re in a position of leadership and you told me when we talked previously, it’s really about the team. So thank you so much
Seth Goldberg: for being here.
Yeah, thanks so much for having me, mark. I’m looking forward to this. Well, let’s
Mark Kinsley: start right there. Let’s start with this idea of the team because. We were going through the list and you’ve got your, your grandfather and his brother and your dad, and your brother Adam, and your sister Shera, and your brother-in-law, Jared, and of course you and your family.
I’m sure life revolves a lot around the business. This is really a team effort and a family business, but at a big scale. Tell us what that, what’s it like to live in that world and, and to work in that world?
Seth Goldberg: Yeah. And in fact, I think you, you actually, uh, forgot two family members in there. So my uncle and, and, and, uh, my, uh, my cousin as well.
So, uh, um, unfortunately my grandfather and, and great-uncle passed away, um, a few years back, but, uh, they founded the business and, uh, 75 years ago. And we are proudly leading the business forward as part of the third generation of our family. Uh, there’s, uh, seven family members. That are actively involved in the business, as you kind of alluded to.
Uh, but you know, it’s really about the, the team and, and the family as a team, the leadership team, the, the broader raymore FLA team. Uh, my dad has a saying. He is, he’s always said to us, uh, maybe it was a way to, uh, help attract us to the business. But he said, uh, you know, we’re playing a team sport. We’re just playing on a different playing field.
And so we feel that is kind of how we approach business every day. And, um, Those lessons that many of us learned playing sports and, and being athletes. Uh, in our younger days, we try to translate to the business environment, uh, every day.
Mark Kinsley: Wow. That’s, uh, Get out your pen and paper on this one because we’re playing a team sport, but we’re playing on a different field.
I absolutely love that. Couldn’t agree more. Okay, so before we get into more of the stories about the team, we’re gonna find out later in the show where is the strangest place that Seth has ever slept? And that’s, that’s coming up okay. Because, uh, this is one of my favorite parts of the entire show. But first we’re gonna do our sleep summit quiz question.
And Seth, you’re gonna answer this later in the show, so hold on to your answer and we’ll answer it later. But what is the term for the phenomenon where people tend to feel more alert and and awake during the day if they have been exposed to bright light in the morning? So there’s your sleep summit quiz question.
Be thinking about your answer and we’ll see if Seth gets it right and we’re gonna find out the strangest place he’s ever slept. Rayor and Flanagan a big name in the furniture and mattress business. Let’s, let’s go straight to the sleep side of your business, the mattress side of your business. You’ve been doing this, your family’s been doing this for 75 years.
Tell us about the mattress department, your mattress sales, how you think about sleep and serving those customers.
Seth Goldberg: Yeah, sure. You know, uh, that category is really important to us, mark. And, and, um, I think it was seven or eight years ago, I was leading the marketing team and I was one day kind of just looking at our, our logo, which was Raymore, inflating and furniture.
And we had been having all these conversations around, well, how do we drive more, uh, mattress business? You know, customers are already in their, in our stores, they’re buying, you know, bedroom sets from us and. We have this great offering in the mattress gallery, in our mattress galleries. And, um, what, what can we do to continue to enhance the awareness that we’re in the sleep category?
Uh, one of the things we did, and it felt like it was such a huge move at the time and looking back. Uh, maybe it wasn’t, but we added mattresses to our logo and, and company name. So, uh, I think, you know, we, we made that kind of serious attempt to communicate that not only are we in the furniture business, but we’re really serious about helping consumers, um, sleep well and.
You know, we’ve done obviously a, a ton. We have a great, um, team in our merchandising group, uh, led, led by, uh, pat Judge, who’s our buyer, who’s they’re so passionate about this category and aggressive about chasing the opportunity. Um, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s been a success for us and, um, we’ve, we’ve done things we, we pride ourselves on having the widest, uh, offering out there in the sleep, uh, category.
Um, we’re. Trying to continue to improve the brand awareness around this category. Um, our associates, I believe, are the best trained out there. Uh, and, and I think customers who shop with us recognize that. Um, but it’s, uh, it’s, it’s important for us. What happened?
Mark Kinsley: Let’s just go straight to it. Whenever you added the word mattresses to the logo, did anything fundamentally change?
Did business pick up? Did associates see the category within the store differently?
Seth Goldberg: What happened? Yeah, I think it was a message both internally, um, and externally to customers that, that, uh, were serious about, uh, the mattress business and the sleep category, um, as an opportunity for our business. And I mean, despite having to spend the money on changing signage on our stores, which, uh, wasn’t inexpensive, especially cuz we have a really long company name.
So it’s, it’s, uh, that was a, that was an effort. Um, Yeah, I think it made the statement to everybody that, hey, we’re not just kind of talking about this part of our business, but we’re really serious about growing this part of our business. And obviously, you know, that in and of itself is not gonna. Just propel, uh, tremendous growth.
So that, that was just one example of, of how we kind of made the statement around being in that mattress category and being serious about it. But it was, you know, supported over the years with a ton of other initiatives. Um, our training in that category has, uh, for, for our internal associates, has improved dramatically, um, over the years.
Like I said, our selection. Uh, we continue to, uh, broaden our selection, um, enhance our selection. Uh, now, now our selection includes, uh, a really wide offering, uh, online as well. So we’re complimenting our in-store offering with, um, all kinds of additional, uh, mattresses and, and, and other products within the sleep category, uh, on our website.
Um, so we feel like we’re a serious player in this category, and we’re gonna continue to be, uh, even more serious about it.
Mark Kinsley: Let’s, uh, talk about that online piece of the business. Is that something that really has been meaningful for Ray Warren Flanagan? And specifically on the mattress side, because there’s so much, uh, chum in the water, you know, and the advertising terms around mattress on Google and other platforms are very expensive.
What’s your participation like and how has that been meaningful? Or, or is it something that you’re still kind of grinding away
Seth Goldberg: at? Yeah. Well, I think there’s. Still a lot to learn and, and you know, we don’t have it all figured out, but first and foremost, we’re an omnichannel business. Um, and you know, whether we just want to be where the consumer wants to shop, research browse, and fortunately we have 150 bricks and mortar locations, um, that are really conveniently located.
So I think for those consumers, and most, I believe, still want to come to stores, especially for. Um, significant purchases like furniture and bedding. Uh, we have convenient locations, so now it’s just how do you create this digital and connected experience that that makes it really easy for the customers?
And when we think about our customer experience, we talk about it striving to be exceptional. And, you know, I, I defined, um, Exceptional with, really in today’s world, a level of simplicity. Um, it needs to be compelling and it needs to be, uh, relevant. Um, so obviously if you just think of the way people behave today, you can’t meet those expectations unless you’re complimenting, uh, your physical store experience with a great digital
Mark Kinsley: experience.
Is that what you find people start online the majority of the time before they come into the
Seth Goldberg: store? Yeah, without a doubt. And you know, it’s hard to get like really accurate statistics around that I think. But, um, I tell our team, Hey, think about it as everybody’s doing that. If, if we think about it in that regard, and that’s our starting place, uh, I think we’re gonna build an experience that makes sense for consumers today and will make even more sense for consumers of tomorrow.
Um, you know, Consumers, millennials, I mean digital tech, you know, mobile devices, website. I mean, these are just. Inherent to the way we live. It’s, it, it’s just part of how we live. And now I see our, my kids, and they don’t have phones yet. They’re way too young. But, um, it’s, it’s like intuitive to them. They, they, they grab my phone and I’m like, they, they never had any training on that.
They never read an instruction manual. Um, they kind of just born with this intuition of how to use technology. So I tell our team, Hey, start with a perspective that everybody is, Is browsing on our website and, um, some or most of those people have an intent of going in the store. What is the experience that we’re gonna provide?
Mark Kinsley: Yeah, I think a lot of retailers out there, they’re looking at their customers coming into the store, armed with information, and then they’re having to do some TaeKwonDo of, you know, pushing and pulling that information based on what the consumer already knows in the right direction to help them.
Dispel misinformation or highlight good pieces of the research the consumer has done and then map that to the products that, that are gonna help them, especially on the mattress side of the business. Is that, does that seem to flow for you?
Seth Goldberg: Yeah, I mean, I think the mattress, um, space can be overwhelming for people and, um, we, we have a really broad offering, but we’re always trying to find ways to simplify it for the consumer.
And so, you know, trying to figure out what really matters to a customer around. Um, specs and comfort and, and value. And, you know, every consumer is a little bit different, right? So we, we, we try to serve as many consumers as we can, but then you’re trying to take this really, this broad offering and all this knowledge and information out there, and you’re trying to simplify it, right?
Cuz the world is just, it can be overwhelmingly complex. So how do our associates help really narrow it down, simplify the experience and the process for a customer. Um, so that we can find them, you know, the mattress or the sleep system that works best for them. Simple isn’t always easy. It’s, I think it’s very difficult actually.
And, uh, you know, especially in today’s day and age where people can get information from so many places. Um, some of it’s accurate, some are inaccurate perhaps, but, you know, you can be overwhelmed with information as a consumer. So, I mean, this is where I believe we have the advantage of having really capable, qualified people who can still support our customer’s experience, right?
Uh, those folks, um, are, are, are great at trying to help a consumer take this really wide offering with a ton of detail, uh, around it and, and, and really find out what’s most important to that consumer and narrow it down. Hopefully find the right product, uh, sleep system for that
Mark Kinsley: consumer. Let me ask you a very granular question.
Whenever somebody comes into the store and they’re mainly looking for furniture and maybe they’re looking at some bedroom sets, how do your associates transition that person back to the mattress
Seth Goldberg: department? Yeah, that’s a good question. Um, One of the things we tell them to do is just blatantly ask a customer how’d they sleep last night?
Uh, maybe sometimes that opens a can of worms, but at least it gets the consumer thinking about, oh, well, you know what? I actually haven’t slept well for a, a really long time. Um, I think as you know, furniture and especially mattresses are a deferrable purchase. They’re easy. For consumers to say, you know what, I’m gonna get to that.
I’m just gonna deal with another night’s sleep or lousy night’s sleep. So, um, you know, that’s something we definitely train our associates on. How do you introduce the mattress category when someone doesn’t come through the front door saying, I need a mattress? You know, like I said, we ask. Probing questions we try to get ahead of and in front of, uh, explaining the different, uh, promotional offerings that we have.
We also have a, what we call a comfort test. So we’ll, we’ll tell a customer, Hey, just come try a few mattresses. They’re gonna be different, uh, levels of comfort and um, you know, we’ll just, we’ll go from there, right? We’re trying to just narrow this down for you to make it easy and simple. And, uh, that’s kind of how we introduce the category.
Mark Kinsley: We’re here on the Sleep Summit Show talking with Seth Goldberg. He’s the president of Ray Moore Flanagan. Seth, you talked about something ahead of recording that I thought was just a, a great thing to highlight around not doing holiday parties, but before we get to not doing holiday parties and what you do instead, what’s your, what’s your dad Neil like?
Seth Goldberg: Oh, geez. Um, Well, is he gonna be listening to this? No, I’m just kidding. No, my dad’s the best. He’s, um, you know, he’s, he’s, uh, my role model, um, mentor, uh, you know, leader, friend. I mean, all these things. Um, and, uh, you know, my dad has an amazing entrepreneurial, um, spirit and energy and knack, but he’s also so, uh, Common sensical, is that, if that’s a word.
Um, my, my dad is just so practical and realistic and, and I think, you know, one thing amongst many that has, has, has helped him to be a, an amazing leader for our organization. Um, not only has he, does he have a drive in the competitiveness that you need to be a successful leader? I, I think, you know, that kind of, for a lot of leaders or successful entrepreneurs, it just kind of goes without saying, but, My dad’s way of communicating with others, um, and, and the frequency in which he communicates, but also the simplicity in which he communicates, which is he, he never makes things more complex than they need to be.
Um, so it’s easily understood. Uh, So people can really understand where we’re trying to go, how we get there. I, I, I think that’s been an incredible attribute that he’s displayed. And, um, you know, we’re, we’re really fortunate as, uh, a family. We, obviously, we have great relationships. I shouldn’t say obviously, we have great relationships.
We all get along really well. We communicate very well. But my dad, uncle and cousin, have done an amazing job as we were kind of growing up, of exposing us to the business. Um, never pressuring us to join, but exposing us to the business to the way that they operated. So we would sit in on meetings with them, you know, as teenagers, meetings that were really important, really high level, sometimes even really sensitive and, and just observe and.
You know, I never really recognized until probably more recently how valuable those experiences were. Uh, we, we were able to watch the three of them engage, uh, sometimes, certainly plenty of times, disagree. Always kind of leave though with a united front and, and, and engage with a respect that’s really necessary to have a successful family business.
Um, and I attribute that to all three of them, certainly. But, uh, you know, my dad, you know, my dad’s leadership attributes I think are, are kind of endless. And, and I’m so fortunate that I get the chance to work with him and I have for the last 15 years. Um, and I, I feel, you know, really, uh, really fortunate that I can
Mark Kinsley: learn from him.
And one of the times you get to work with him and beside him is whenever you go out and you do kind of the opposite of a holiday. Party, which typically takes place in the evening. Right. That experience. Talk about what you do because you’re going around to 150, um, locations or gatherings that bring together 150 separate locations and 6,000 associates around the holiday season, and you guys are like a tour group or a rock band.
Seth Goldberg: Sometimes we feel that way, although we’re not as talented, that’s for sure. But um, yeah, you know, our culture starts with our. Our associates first. I mean, I think a lot of companies probably say that, you know, we feel like ours is unique. Um, we feel and live by the sentiment that if we treat our associates well, they’ll treat our customers well.
And um, part of doing that is recognizing the contributions of our associates. And a lot of companies do that with holiday parties. Um, I can’t take credit for this. I think, uh, the credit goes to, to dad. Steve and Mike, but, um, I think early on they started with holiday parties and, you know, holiday parties can create challenges.
Uh, usually there’s, there’s alcohol at holiday parties. So I think one year they kind of regrouped after one of the holiday parties and they said, you know what? We gotta change this up. We gotta do something different. Uh, what about holiday breakfast? You know, we’re not, we’re not gonna serve, serve any alcohol.
It’s, uh, I think it’s a little bit safer, and I think at that time, maybe there was two or three holiday breakfasts, uh, at the, at the onset of these. Um, now with our growth, we, like you said, travel around towards the end of the year. Uh, we have, um, 23, I think last year of these where we bring together the local stores and the, and the warehouses and, uh, we serve.
We cook, we serve, we clean up. Um, you know, we really try to show that appreciation for our associates hard work throughout the year. And the other incredibly valuable, um, aspect of these is that we sit down with associates. You know, when you’re sitting down over an omelet, you know, there’s. There’s a natural comfort level in, in, in being open and honest and, and, uh, we get really raw and invaluable feedback and ideas, uh, from our associates about ways to improve the business.
So there’s been so many wonderful ideas that we have, uh, received during these events and, uh, they’re really, they’re really special.
Mark Kinsley: That sounds like a lot of fun. I, I always look at eating a meal together as such a, an important thing because sometimes I’ll look at evolutionary psychology, which I find fascinating and think, well, if you’re sitting down to eat, you know you’re safe.
You’re not being chased by lions. And if you know you’re safe, then you are typically comfortable with the people that are beside you. A as you sit there and you share an omelet and you talk to your, your, your fellow associates, You said you got some of the best ideas from those conversations and those holiday breakfasts, what are some of the, what are some of those ideas that maybe have bubbled up and been deployed throughout the organization?
Seth Goldberg: Yeah, I mean, one of them that we always cite because, um, I think it was expressed in such like a simple and innocent way, was, uh, you know, an associate was asking us, Hey, what do you do with, I mean, this is probably. I don’t know, 15, 20 years ago at this point. But what do you do with all that packaging material?
What do you do with all the, the, the plastic and the styrofoam and the cardboard that comes with all this furniture? You know, we, we open the furniture in our warehouses. We prep it and inspect it there. What are you doing with all that stuff? And at the time, um, we were disposing of it. We were, we were.
Probably paying frankly, to, uh, to dispose of it. And the associate, you know, asked if we’ve ever looked into, like recycling the, you know, those materials. Um, you know, at the time it was, it was, it was early for the recycling efforts that exist today, but we started building out these recycling centers within our organization to bring back all that material, recycle it, and um, it really became like, Part of our, uh, sustainability, environmentally friendly efforts before that was even kind of a thing.
And, and again, it was just his associate really kind of innocently bringing up this, this, this idea. But he was comfortable enough to ask us. He was comfortable enough to share, you know, what was a simple thought. And oftentimes I think what’s so amazing is that our associates think. Hey, this is a really small thing, or this is just a nuisance to me, and they forget to recognize that it’s, what they’re bringing up is probably impacting thousands of associates around the company.
So, you know, they don’t think necessarily that this is some broad, large scale, uh, idea, but oftentimes, um, it will, it will turn into that. I mean, I think just another simple one was like, Talking about the in-store experience again years, years ago, and, and our associates saying, Hey, you know, for those customers who aren’t necessarily as interested in interacting with us as a home furnishing consultant, how can we reengage with a customer?
Like we need a way to like, Go back up to them and, and, and give them something, Hey, maybe a bottle of water, just a simple bottle of water. Right? So, you know, we’ve offered bottles of water in our, in our showroom for, for decades, frankly, because of that. And, uh, again, an associate had just a simple idea and now that you’re, we’re a larger organization, it becomes incredibly meaningful and, and widespread.
Mark Kinsley: I wanna. Put a red underline, uh, below what you just talked about with the recycling question. That simple question. Now, if I have my numbers right, you have five recycling facilities that you operate, a hundred recycling associates. You have a three acre plot of solar panels to harvest energy and electricity.
And Rayor Flanagan recycles 99% of all packaging materials resulting in 200 million pounds, diverted from landfills since 2002 and growing one question, one omelet, one breakfast.
Seth Goldberg: Yes. I mean, it’s amazing, right? And the, and the, and the power of a single, um, associate, or a single idea. I mean, you have to.
But in order to do that, you have to create a culture where people feel comfortable, um, speaking their mind, being honest and being transparent. And you know, people have joked with us in the past when that show Undercover Boss was out there and they were like, you guys should do that. And I’m like, we could never do that.
Like, first of all, we wouldn’t wanna do that. Second of all, we could never do that. Our associates, they know us too well. We want them to know us. We’re, we’re normal people that, that inter like, we’re all on the same team. Like we don’t, you know, we’re, we’re not, you know, these, these, these fancy executives.
That’s not how we behave. And, um, we could never do Undercover Boss. So that’s just our culture. That’s just who we are. You know, we, we, we, we, we try to be out there as much as possible in our stores, in our warehouses. I mean, that’s where you learn the most. That’s where you get the best ideas. And, and, and not only that, it is so energizing and motivating.
I mean, those holiday breakfasts, no matter how exhausting they are, to stay in a different hotel every night and a different mattress, and you never know what you’re kind gonna get, um, it doesn’t even matter because at the end of the day, it’s so exciting and so energizing, you know, all the conversation, all the ideas, all the camaraderie, uh, that we get to experience during those.
Mark Kinsley: You can, I can just see you light up when you talk about it. Yeah. I’m
Seth Goldberg: excited to restart them in a few months.
Mark Kinsley: Well, Seth, uh, I, I gotta ask you about some, some failures. I mean, a wildly successful company that is a model for many in the furniture and mattress industry. As you’ve come up over the past 15 years, have you ever really screwed up and maybe learned something from that?
Has there been a moment that where you’re like, oh no, this is, this got went in the wrong direction, and maybe there’s a lesson out of that?
Seth Goldberg: Yeah. Um, yeah, there’s probably a long list. Um, I try not, I try to, you know, I don’t put it necessarily on my desk to look at every day. Maybe I should, I guess, but, uh, I, I, I.
I believe that I have learned a lot of things through those failures. One that I would highlight. And um, I think this relates to kind of the evolution of our business as we try to incorporate, um, technology better within our business. We have so much to continue to learn about how to better best do that, how to best, uh, integrate technology, leverage technology.
Um, unfortunately, I got a couple of examples of where we’ve went out and we’ve bought technology, um, products or applications, uh, specifically one when we bought a website, e-commerce platform. That was, you know, we got sold on, basically we spent money on, we tried to implement, uh, and roll out in the business and it was just a failure and it was, it was just not right for.
Our business and we got all lured by the kind of bells and whistles of this product. And um, you know, from that time we have. Vetted far better than we ever have. Any new technology that we’re gonna go out and buy. Uh, even to the point where we often hire partners or consultants to help us do that because we wanna make sure that we get it, we get it right, we get the choice right?
And right does not always mean the number one ranking e-commerce platform out there, right, means that it’s, it’s right for our business. It’s right for what we can, what our needs are, what our requirements are. What our capabilities are and our competencies are. So that was an expensive, timely, uh, mistake that we made.
But, um, soon after we implemented a, a website platform that was right and is working and is really been incredibly valuable for our organization. Um, so that would be a big one and, and, and a costly one, unfortunately.
Mark Kinsley: Those technology missteps are typically really expensive and very time consuming. I was just talking to one of our customers who spent the past year and a half working on this migration over to new technology for, for point of sale, and they decided to abandon it after a year and a half of really hard work because they got to the point where they realized it wasn’t gonna work for them.
So I, I think those time investments and like you said, readjusting and now hiring consultants, To do some of that vetting and some of that front end work, um, you know, lesson learned. Let, let, let’s go the opposite. Have you implemented any technology that you were able to roll out company wide that’s had a huge impact, a huge positive impact, uh, besides the e-com piece?
Seth Goldberg: Well, we’re in the midst of doing, um, a massive transformation with our E R P system. So, um, you can. Connect with me in a year or 18 months and I’ll let you know if it was a good move, but we feel pretty confident that it will be. Um, we, we like to joke that. 40 years ago, uh, my dad bought, uh, an e R P system that I think probably every furniture retailer at the time was buying.
And, uh, you know, we’ve done an amazing job of kind of building on top of it, around it, connecting this web of technology applications, uh, ultimately to it. Um, But we finally made the decision about a year ago, Hey, we need to change this. If we’re gonna set ourselves up for success for many years to come, we’re gonna have to kind of rebuild the foundation of this house.
And that’s a really difficult decision. And frankly, one that we had kind of deferred and deferred and deferred because it’s just not, you know, it’s just not an experience. You really, you know, you, you enjoy or want to go through unless you really have to. Um, Again, the, the proof will be in the pudding, but I feel really confident that this will be, uh, an incredible investment to help us modernize the, the technology stack that we have, the applications that our associates are using, allow us to really streamline and, and reduce the number of applications that they use.
Because, you know, one of the big things we look at when we look at technology is how do we make, like I said before, how do we make our associates experience? Better. How do we make their experience better so that they, that can translate to the customer? And you know, I use this analogy all the time, but if in today’s day and age we’re all using these iPhones or these Android devices that just come out of the box, they’re super simple to use and they’re more powerful than anything we’ve ever held in our pockets before.
Um, but then I come to work and I have to use something that’s dated. Or multiple applications that, you know, aren’t mobile friendly or aren’t seamless and, and easy to use, uh, like those two experiences don’t make sense, right? So, um, while I, uh, you know, I wish we were as good as Apple, you know, that’s kind of the gold standard in what we want to deliver as far as technology applications for our associates and obviously, you know, for our customers as well.
Mark Kinsley: Yeah. If you make it hard to do business with you because of infrastructure or that piping and plumbing you have in place from a technology perspective, your customers are like, well, I’ll just go over here and it’s easier for me to give them my money.
Seth Goldberg: You’re absolutely right. And, and when you’re, you know, a long standing business like we are that have grown, you know, in a, in a, in a way that we have grown.
And often grown by just getting things done. You know, we, we have kind of this bias towards action. We’re, I think we, you know, one of the things, again, we’ve learned from, from my dad and my uncle, my cousin, is like, You know, the best ideas are are just ideas until they get executed. So we are all about execution.
And execution really matters. And execution all often involves attention to detail. It involves leaders even at the highest level, like really digging in and understanding what that level of detail. Uh, that is necessary to, to execute effectively. Um, but we don’t, we don’t do a lot of like, strategy sessions.
We don’t do a lot of like, you know, long-term Strat strategy efforts. Like we we’re really all about, you know, executing and executing, uh, as, as, as well as
Mark Kinsley: we possibly can. I remember when I wrote, The book come back to bed in it. When I was signing it for people, I would put action reveals answers, because so often people get hung up on strategy and I’m all about coming up with a good plan.
I love that. But then it has to be put into action because it’s gonna reveal answers and it’s gonna reveal questions you didn’t even know to ask. And if it sits on the sidelines and you, you continue to bake that cake and never take it outta the oven, you’re not gonna know. What the world is gonna do to your idea unless you execute.
I love that.
Seth Goldberg: Yeah. And if you’re trying to build the perfect cake or bake the perfect cake, you’re gonna probably wait a long time to, to be able to, you know, start eating that cake. I dunno if that makes sense, if that, does that work? There was a really
Mark Kinsley: great study I saw done where, uh, they had two groups and each group was the, the goal was to build the best piece of pottery.
And so this was done in an academic setting and they had all the controls set up and put in place. And so the first group, they were given, uh, access to experts. They were given literature, uh, they were given books, um, all the resources they would need to learn how to make a great piece of pottery. And they were supposed to absorb as much knowledge as they could and then, then make one piece of pottery that was perfect.
The second group, Uh, was put in a room with a bunch of clay and appeal and they said, start making pottery. Just make as many pieces as you can. And so then they had independent judges at the very end who were tasked with saying, which is the best piece of pottery? And at the very end, the group with all of the knowledge and resources and, and everything they needed to find out what makes a great piece of pottery was judged dramatically lower than the people with their hands in the clay that said, go do it.
Go do it and learn.
Seth Goldberg: I think that’s a great story and yeah, definitely representative of how we’ve grown and who we are and what our culture’s all about.
Mark Kinsley: Seth, I’ve gotta know. Okay, a couple of things. Number one, you, you’re a fit guy you like to work out and it helps define your day, talk about you’re fitness routine, and then talk
Seth Goldberg: about sleep.
Well, yeah, I, I, I’m never as fit as I’d like to be, I guess. But, um, I used to be maybe fitter, uh, yeah. You know, so I, uh, like having a routine, I think it’s important. Um, sometimes you also gotta be willing to like, get out of that routine, right? And, and, and I think that’s also important. But, um, yeah, I try to work out in the mornings, uh, you know, as often as I can.
Usually it’s probably six days a week, uh, before the. House starts to, starts to wake up and I have four little, little boys. So once the house gets going, um, there’s not a lot of time for me to invest in myself. So I try to do that, uh, before everybody kind of wakes up. Um, and, uh, and if I don’t do it, I’m just not as sharp throughout the day.
I feel it. I really, I really feel it. Um, but backing up even a Steph further, like if I don’t sleep well, I’ve, I’ve always been one that needs. My sleep. I mean, for me that means seven to eight hours. Um, and if I don’t get seven, eight hours, if I’m 6, 5, 6, if I’m interrupted, um, you know, I, I’ll push through, but I, I’m just not as, as sharp or as alert.
So I’m, you know, relatively disciplined, I would say with my routine. Um, and I, and I need, I need, I need that good sleep. I need that, that, you know, hour in the morning for fitness and, and working out. Um, and then the day gets going. You know, I think because I try to jam in so much in the day, you know, come, come 9, 9 30 at night, like, I usually don’t have a lot of trouble falling asleep.
So, so, so that’s a good thing.
Mark Kinsley: That is a good thing. Yeah. It sounds like you, you know yourself, you know your body, uh, what can you say what you’re sleeping on these days?
Seth Goldberg: Um, yeah, I’m sleeping on a Beautyrest black, uh, and, uh, you know, it’s great. So, um, one thing I haven’t done though, and, and I’ve been meaning to, it kind of goes back to that deferrable thing even I.
Though we’re in the industry, I, I’ve always wa I’ve, I’ve wanted to try out like an adjustable base and I just, I just haven’t gotten around to doing it. So
Mark Kinsley: I need to, yeah, like, Hey, you, you know, a great place with a mattress in the world. I know where you can find one. You know, I’m the same way I had one years ago and now I think I’m ready to, to bring it back.
Um, because I had it and I didn’t use it as much and. You know, I was younger and now I’m in my, my early forties and you know, I think ah, it really would be nice just to elevate my feet and that changes. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Okay, well maybe we’ll do an experiment and we’ll circle back at some point and we can compare some notes.
Sounds great. Yeah. Uh, we gotta, we gotta know, we gotta know. Inquiring minds. Want to know where is the strangest place that Seth Goldberg,
Seth Goldberg: oh man, ever slept? Um, Yeah, I wish I could say something like, uh, you know, in a mattress gallery in one of our stores, but I, I haven’t done that. Um, you know, I’ve definitely fallen asleep in a law school class.
I went to law school and, and that’s definitely put me to sleep. I don’t know. I, I, I, I, I don’t, maybe that’s the most. That’s the strangest, perhaps, um, you know, probably falling asleep on my kids’ floors with four, with four kids. I think that’s happened, uh, before as well. Um, I wish I had a better answer for you, mark.
I, I, you know, I don’t know that that’s that strange in the grand scheme of thing and I was thinking about it, I guess, you know, I’m pretty fortunate that I get to sleep in a, in a nice bed and mattress every night. So I feel thankful for that.
Mark Kinsley: Absolutely. Cuz you gotta get that seven to eight hours. Right,
Seth Goldberg: right.
How about you? Do you, do you, can I ask a question of where’s the strangest place you’ve
Mark Kinsley: slept? Oh, wow. Uh, I think we’re gonna have to edit out a time period in life, roughly from 18 to 23 if we can go ahead and eliminate that and create a donut hole there. Um, you know, hey, recently, you know, I, I was on the other side of the world and I got to sleep in India, and then I went from Bangalore, India to Mumbai.
And it was strange for me because in all of the hotels you had to actually go through, uh, a security feature. And so they had metal detectors. You had to hand off your bags just to get into the hotels. And so the experience itself was very strange. Uh, and then the mattresses in India tend to be very firm.
Um, 40% of mattresses produced use choir, which is coconut husk with a latex coating as before. And so there the mattresses tend to be very firm. Um, so that was kind of a unique, strange experience. This is probably gonna continue to come up, Seth, as I have guests on the Sleep Summit show. So I will continue to think of the strange places I’ve slept, of which there are many.
Seth Goldberg: Cool, thanks for answering my question. I’m,
Mark Kinsley: yeah. Hey, you’re turning the microphone around on me. I love it. Okay, so I, I want, I got two more things I wanna do our sleep summit quiz question. So what is the term. For the phenomenon where people tend to feel more alert and awake during the day if they’ve been exposed to bright light in the morning.
Do you know the answer to this?
Seth Goldberg: Uh, no. I don’t. I’m, I guess I probably should if we’re in the sleep business, but I’ll learn something today, so hopefully
Mark Kinsley: can well that phenomenon. And you’ll probably say, oh, of course. Where people tend to feel more alert and awake when they’ve been exposed to bright light in the morning. That’s actually circadian rhythm, uh, which is specifically the body’s natural response to light and darkness.
Seth Goldberg: Okay. That makes a lot of sense. And I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s really important. I think it’s really important, mark, actually, to wake up to natural light. I, my, I think my wife would have our room completely blackout and, and keep it that way, but I need. That natural light coming in in the morning.
So I, I can relate to that. I think, I think that’s a really important, and here in upstate New York, um, you know, when it’s dark at, at 5, 5 30 in the morning, still all the way, you know, to the winter, you know, when the winter time keeps it dark, um, it’s a lot harder to wake up.
Mark Kinsley: Yeah, it is. I’ve heard from so many sleep experts that say, if you can have your bedroom, you know, located on the east side of your home for that natural light to wake you up.
And then many also say, go out in the morning and get exposed for about 15 minutes to that natural light because it’s gonna have such an impact on your circadian rhythm. It’s gonna set your clock. So, uh, always, always good tips. And then of course, have a, have a bedtime. And if you’re living like Seth, You’re, you’re going hard in the paint all day and by 9, 9 30, no problems falling asleep most nights.
Yes. Hey, I gotta ask you, what are you excited about about the future for you, for Ray Moore Flanagan? When you think about, uh, the action, the execution that you’re doing right now, and what gets you, you jazzed about your future path, what do you think about?
Seth Goldberg: Well, I, I’m, I’m really excited about some of the investment we’re making in, in new technology to help our business, um, propel forward, starting with our associates experience.
I think we’re on the cusp of making our associates, uh, productivity higher, their experience better with some, some new tools that they’re gonna be able to use. Um, I also think that we’re doing some really great things. And have a laundry list of more things that we want to do to create the best omnichannel, uh, shopping experience for our customers in the Northeast.
And, uh, we’re so. Well positioned to be able to do that. And, uh, I’m really excited about our, our leadership team, being able to think not only in the blocking and tackling and the, the running of the business every day today, but also that evolution of our, of our business that we need to do to be successful, uh, hopefully for many years to come.
And, uh, it, it obviously involves us, you know, that that improvement of our associate experience, improvement of, of our customer experience, but, We’re gonna roll out some things, um, from an omnichannel standpoint that I think are gonna make, uh, the shopping experience with us easier, simpler, just better overall for customers.
And, um, I think we’re really well positioned to, to, to be able to do that and be a, an industry leader in that way.
Mark Kinsley: Hey, did I not ask you something that you’d like to touch on? What did we not get to that’s rattling around in the back of your brain, or maybe in the hallways of Ray Warren Flanagan.
Seth Goldberg: Um, I mean, I, you know, I don’t know the implications of ai.
Um, I think, uh, this is something, uh, I’m trying to read up on, read a couple books and, and trying to absorb as much of this as I, as I can. Um, you know, in some ways it’s very exciting what’s happening, uh, with AI and all the, uh, the buzz around it and the advancement around it. Um, in some ways it’s, uh, it’s concerning to me.
Um, I think there’s just, uh, it’s so powerful and, you know, tools that are out there, uh, like chat, G p t, just, I’m kind of in, in awe about, you know, what these tools are gonna mean. And now as a father of of four, you know, I’m, I’m, I’m often thinking about like, what is this gonna mean for the way my kids live and grow up?
Um, I think there’s so many questions. Unanswered at this point. But, uh, it, they’re incredibly powerful tools out there. And I just see it like in the Microsoft products that I’m using every day, you know, I mean, the way that it can draft emails and, uh, set appointments for me and reminders. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s very interesting what’s going on, I think in that space.
Mark Kinsley: It absolutely is. I mean, even just chat g p t alone as a fundamental switch in the way that we navigate the internet. I mean, because, you know, I’m, I’m rarely going to Google anymore. I’m going to chat g p t because, you know, instead of asking a question, it’s sifting through search results. It’s giving me collected information that isn’t dictated by the website that I need to then visit.
Right. It’s presenting it all in one stream. I mean, Just for fun, uh, you know, ahead of time, I just do this every once in a while. I said, uh, five best unexpected questions to ask someone that you’re interviewing and it spit it out, you know, spit out five. And that’s not the way I do interviews. I, I like to just listen to the person and go to where the interview needs to go.
Um, but it, you know, it gives you the classic, if you could travel to any point in history, where would you go and why? Uh, you know, if you could have dinner with a historical figure, you know, some of that stuff. But it, it shows you its ability to collect and synthesize information into something meaningful for you in that moment.
And I’ve heard from other retailers. For example, I was talking to Dr. V with Ellis down in the south, down in Mississippi, and they’re using chat G B T to come up with better customer service responses. Right when they’re using their chat feature and he said it’s working great because it gives you that positive tone and vibe without the person have having to guess each time.
Yeah. Have you rolled out anything AI related or G P T or you messing with that internal? We’re trying,
Seth Goldberg: yeah, we’re trying in certain areas, marketing, uh, being one of them. Um, definitely our, our, our chat experience as well. Um, you know, I think it does kind of, Force you to reflect on what the experience that you wanna provide to your customers is.
And so the way that we think about that, you know, there’s definitely transactional, there’s informational interactions that are had that, um, you know, customers, Hey, I’m looking for, uh, when my delivery date, or I wanna reschedule my delivery, or what’s my previous order history. Um, but. There’s, there’s a bunch of, of situations where human to human interaction, uh, we, we pride ourselves on that interaction and we pride ourselves on our associates having the ability to take the best possible care of the customer in those situations.
So it’s really a complimentary strategy there. Right. And, uh, and I think, you know, we, we don’t, Do everything we can to get a customer, not to talk to somebody in our organization. In fact, if somebody wants to talk to someone in our organization, we’re always trying to figure out how do we make it easier for that to happen, and how do we make sure that that person is, uh, really well equipped to solve that customer’s concerns or challenges at that moment in time.
Uh, so it’s, it’s, it’s gotta be, I think, a balanced approach. But we’re definitely trying it and trying to learn from it for sure. It’s kind of a
Mark Kinsley: small thing, but. I think that the advent of chat G p T and how powerful it can be if, if someone harnesses it in the right way, is making moments like this video more important.
Because yeah, unless, you know, Seth is a really good deep fake at this point, we’re having a real human conversation saying so you know what’s happening and you know, it’s, you know, it’s anchored in reality and not by scraping and, and fixing and DJing together the internet.
Seth Goldberg: Yeah. This is real. And I, you know, I’m real.
I’m real. And, and this is real. And I think, you know, as humans, we still crave that emotional human interaction. And, uh, you know, I think we’re, you know, unfortunately in some ways, uh, fortunately I guess in others now, we have these incredibly powerful computers in our pockets that we’re all probably a little bit addicted to in, in a sense.
And, and, you know, we just. I don’t think we can lose sight of how valuable and important the, the human to human interaction like this is.
Mark Kinsley: I can agree more, and this has been a great chance for me to visit with you and get to know more about Raymore and Flanigan as we, as we sign off for the day, I just want you to pass along.
Um, my thanks to your 6,000 associates. For their passion around this category because we get to help people live better lives. We get to help people sleep better. We get to change, uh, what’s happening in sometimes scary transitions. You know, so often people come in to buy furniture and mattress cause then something is changing in their life.
Yeah. And when something’s changing, we want an assurance of an outcome. And it sounds like you have an incredible team and an an amazing family. Uh, and please pass along my thanks to your family as well, uh, because I love seeing. That spirit represented in business and that love represented in
Seth Goldberg: business.
Yeah. Thanks so much for having me, mark. It was great to connect and uh, appreciate it.
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