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Along his journey to success, Toman empowered others
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Courtesy: David Perry | News Source:

Kevin Toman, one of bedding’s senior statesmen, didn’t start his career in the mattress industry. Instead, he joined one of the country’s strongest companies: Standard Oil.

The bright-eyed graduate of the City University of New York took his freshly minted degree in marketing and went to work in the marketing department at Standard Oil of California. But a career in the oil industry was not in his cards, Toman soon realized, and he looked for opportunities elsewhere.

A sales trainee job with the Simmons Company looked promising. He took that job in 1970 and went on to build a well-respected career in the mattress industry, one that included stints with the three top bedding brands in those days — Sealy, Simmons and Serta — and that also gave him CEO roles at up-and-coming producers Restonic and Englander.

He has worked at Top 10 producer Englander since 2005 and was instrumental in bringing in Mark Kinsley as Englander’s new president earlier this year. That move united a rising bedding star with one of the industry’s most experienced executives.

Furniture Today salutes Toman’s 46-year career in the mattress industry by naming him just the fifth winner of its Lifetime Bedding Achievement Award.

He joins Gary Fazio, Ed Lilly, Harry Cornell and Earl Kluft in that elite group.

After working closely with him, Kinsley can attest to Toman’s abilities as a leader.

“Kevin is a remarkable person,” Kinsley said. “He brings out the best in those around him by encouraging independent thinking and empowering people to use their talents. On top of that, he’s a fun guy with a never-ending catalog of one-liners. I am grateful for his service to our industry and the wisdom he’s passed along to me.”

Toman, 72, who recently retired as CEO of Englander, identified the key chapters in his long bedding career in an interview with Furniture Today.

His first sales territory with Simmons was in southern New Jersey. He liked his new job and quickly found success in it. In the next four years, he was promoted several times, eventually being named territory sales manager, with responsibility for the largest Simmons warehouse in the country, located in Washington D.C. He managed the entire sales team and office staff in his territory.

Opportunity knocked again in 1978, when Toman joined Sealy Mattress of Connecticut as key account manager. There he handled all the New York City department store accounts in an era when department stores were prestigious, key players on the bedding landscape with strong consumer franchises.

He was later promoted to vice president of sales for the New England region and after that was named vice president of sales and marketing for all of Sealy Connecticut.

Following the Ohio Mattress acquisition of Sealy licensees in the 1980s, a move orchestrated by bedding legend Ernie Wuliger, Toman was appointed in 1989 to a corporate position, vice president of sales for national accounts, hospitality division, and new business development. In that role, he established new channels of Sealy distribution with sales to membership clubs Costco, Sam’s and Pace — a channel of distribution that would gain significant share in the years to come.

In 1993 another opportunity presented itself to Toman, and he joined Serta Mattress Northeast as president and CEO. During his tenure he returned the company to high profitability and generated 80% sales growth based on a turnaround strategy that included a total overhaul of the company and the construction of a new 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility.

Toman spearheaded the acquisition of Serta Pittsburgh in 1996, which gave the company seven licensees that were owned by United Kingdom-based SilentNight. As CEO of that key Serta group in the U.S., Toman served on the Serta Inc. board of directors.

After Serta International acquired Serta Northeast in 2000 in another significant industry consolidation move, Toman stepped away from the industry for a few years.

He began teaching at the local Catholic high school near his home in Duxbury, Mass. In addition, he developed sales and marketing plans for students at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.

But the lure of the bedding industry was strong, and Toman returned to the mattress arena in 2002 when he was named president and CEO of Restonic. There he led a reorganization of the company, established key relationships with national accounts and buying groups, and directed the company to enter the fledgling Las Vegas Market, where Restonic still maintains a showroom to this day.

Englander Sleep Products came calling in 2005, and Toman was named president and CEO of that group.

He gave the Englander brand a global footprint, with licensees in 26 countries marketing and manufacturing Englander sleep products.

Also on his watch, Englander consolidated its ownership to three companies that operate 12 manufacturing facilities strategically located across the U.S., giving the producer the ability to ship a national product line throughout the country.

His contributions to the bedding industry included five years serving on the board of trustees for the International Sleep Products Assn.
He also found the time to serve in the U.S. Navy Reserve and to earn an MBA from California Western University.

Toman currently serves as board chairman at Loreto House, a non-profit based in Denton, Texas, that supports and empowers women. He’s also a member of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, a group that extols the virtue of patriotism.

He and his wife, Mary, celebrated their 50th anniversary last summer, and the year-long celebration of that milestone continues. The Tomans have two children and four grandchildren, and they plan to spend more time with them now that Kevin’s retirement is a reality.

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