Column 112

 

Mike Rudkins' business likely took root when he was a kid, living at then Camp Borden with his military dad. A military family, Mike and his mom Elaine and all the little Rudkins moved into Barrie in the late 60's when his dad retired from military service.

So Mike feels like he's lived in Barrie his whole life.

Mike and his wife, Krista exemplify what is so good about Barrie. Fifteen years ago they started a little company, supplying mattresses to people who needed new mattresses, working out of their garage. They also worked other full time jobs while they built the business.

Right from the beginning, Mike, The Mattress Guy's philosophy has involved bettering our community. "Krista came up with the idea that we would do free deliveries for any customer making a donation to the Food Bank," says Mike. And that caught on.

Three years ago the couple opened their first real store, in 1500 square feet at the plaza at 555 Mapleview Dr West, at Lougheed, and mattresses were joined by beds of all kinds, bedding, living room, dining room furniture, everything you'd need in a home except electronics.

They love being in the 555 Mapleview Dr location, near Polski Deli and Hollywood Pizza. They love it so much that on New Year's Day they begin the move to 3500 square feet, the anchor store in the plaza.

It's the start of their 16th year in business and it's a celebration of solid growth based on solid service. All their box springs and mattresses are manufactured right in Toronto, all Canadian made. Their supplier, Endless Comfort, is excellent at providing quality product and Mike and Krista pride themselves in being able to help their customers fit any budget.

"Our customers work hard. They are looking for a great deal and good service, and great followup service... that especially matters!" says Mike. "I think everybody wants to feel like you care about them. If a person has a particular item in mind and it's over their budget, we try to work with them to get what they want."

Mike credits his parents' philosophy of giving to your community for the current corporate generosity of Mike, The Mattress Guy. Not only does the company provide for the Food Bank, but they provided beds for 12 Ladies in a Tent fundraising project. They also meet the budget for women re-establishing themselves in the community by providing quality beds for both the Womens & Children's Centre and the Elizabeth Fry Society. Mike and Krista also donate food and clothing to both organizations.

Mike's mom, Elaine, at age 79 still volunteers one day a week at Off the Rack charitable clothing store. She sews and she works the floor. His dad was always involved, a cubs leader, baseball, hockey, soccer coach. Getting involved is second nature.

"People reach out to us in need and we try to respond. I always like to look at it as fun. The Crisis Centre calls me when people leave the centre and I meet their budget to help get people set up." Giving back is sort of the Rudkins mantra.

You could say Mike, the Mattrress Guy is a family business. Mike and Krista are a 15 year store team and a 25 year marriage team. Their three kids have all worked in the store at one point. Two daughters are currently at Guelph University and their son works at the business end of the stove at Country Kettle on Essa Rd.

Mike's sister does their corporate tax. His other sister helps with Human Resources. And recession? What recession? Mike's a working class guy serving others who work hard. "Our business is awedome and it may be because our prices fit the every day working person and we grow every month. We have repeat business and referrals...no slowdowns for us."

With employment years that include electrical supply and the line at Honda, Mike knows what working families want and can afford and that's what they supply.

They also shop locally. Their company vehicles, signs, business cards, Tshirts, anything for the business is not ordered online from offshore. "We buy locally, says Mike. In turn they buy from us. It goes around. You're not suposed to keep money, you're supposed to circulate it."

Mike and I had our conversation on Christmas Eve, mid-day. He was making his last delivery of the day, to a Hawkestone customer. And then he was heading out to do his own Christmas shopping. I laughed and mentioned that he'd be running into a lot of other men. "I'm just like every other guy," he said. "It's my favourite time to shop. I bump into so many people I know!"

Thanks, Mike. Merry Christmas!

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