TEMPURŪ material was originally called Temper Foam when it was developed by NASA in the 1960s. "Temper" alludes to the foam's temperature-sensitive property. Scientists developed Temper Foam while designing a safer aerospace seating system. The foam consists of billions of viscoelastic cells. ("Visco" means that it's resistant to change, and "elastic" refers to its ability to return to the original shape after a change has taken place.) Nowadays, many people refer to
TEMPURŪ material as "memory foam" because of its ability to return to its original shape. The viscoelastic cells in TEMPURŪ material become softer as temperature increases, and they conform to bodies based on body temperature. The revolutionary material also had the ability to absorb large amounts of energy without bouncing.
Ned Yost, one of the original researchers who developed Temper Foam, founded Dynamic Systems in 1969 and applied the foam to ejection seats and crash safety belts in aircraft. Dynamic Systems also applied it in wheelchair cushions, x-ray table pads, off-road vehicle seats, ski boots, and sports equipment. In 1974, another company bought the product line, only to discover that Temper Foam was very difficult to manufacture in a consistent manner.
In the early 1980s, NASA released the formulation for the viscoelastic material to the public domain, and while many companies tried to manufacture the material, most gave up quickly when they realized the difficulty of the process. One company, however, did not give up. Fagerdala World Foams in Sweden devoted a whole decade to perfecting the manufacturing process. They branded their version of the Temper Foam in 1990 and called it TEMPURŪ -and they actually sold their advanced material back to NASA. No other company has been able to replicate the consistency of TEMPURŪ.
Fagerdala introduced the Tempur-Pedic Swedish Mattress in 1991, and a star was born. Within three years, the company had sold 50,000 mattresses in the relatively small country of Sweden. Around the same time, Robert Trussell of Lexington, Kentucky learned about the Tempur-Pedic Swedish Mattress from a Swedish friend. After sleeping on the mattress for just one night, he was convinced of its sales potential. In 1992, Fagerdala awarded North American distribution rights to Trussell, who created Tempur-Pedic Inc. Trussell turned to family and friends to raise the initial capital to launch his company. Previously, Trussell had worked in the business of breeding race horses, and he received investments from several associates from the horse racing business. He recalls of his fund-raising efforts: "I had to convince them that although we lost money on something I know a lot about, which is horses, we were going to make money on something I know nothing about, which is mattresses."
Trussel learned quickly. By 1995, his company was generating $6.5 million in annual sales. In 1995, Trussel expanded his sales force, and he had a $14 million company by the end of the year. A separate subsidiary, Tempur-Medical Inc., was formed in 1996 to focus on the many uses of TEMPURŪ in healthcare settings. Many nursing homes, for instance, now use Tempur-PedicŪ mattresses because they greatly reduce the incidence of bedsores.
In 2006, Tempur-Pedic sales skyrocketed to $622 million, and they continue to climb as more people experience the best sleep of their lives on the revolutionary, pressure-relieving TEMPURŪ material. Tempur-PedicŪ products have been featured on Dateline NBC, CNN's Business Unusual, CNBC's Power Lunch, the Discovery Channel, and NBC's Today Show.
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