‘Beds for Kids’: Milton Sleep Company Teams With SM Wright Foundation to Help Southern Dallas Children Get Their ZZZs 

Sleep helps cognitive function and emotional regulation, but a good night’s rest is hard to come by.

Let’s face it. Few things have as big an impact on our overall wellbeing as a good night’s rest. But for many people, sleep is elusive. An always-on culture combined with individual stressors adds to many people complaining of insomnia. The CDC estimates that one in three people don’t get enough sleep. That translates to an estimated U.S. economic impact of more than $411 billion each year. 

For children ages 9 or 10, researchers at the National Institute of Health have found that those who got an insufficient amount of sleep (defined as less than nine hours per day) showed more mental health and behavioral problems like impulsivity, diminished working memory, and difficulties with conflict resolution—all of which persisted at a two-year follow-up. 

In Southern Dallas, the SM Wright Foundation is trying to address that problem through its Beds for Kids program, with the help of partners like Milton Sleep Company—a local manufacturer with a history of giving back.

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“Not all families can afford beds for everyone, so some kids sleep on sofas or even the floor,” said SM Wright, II, president, CEO, and cofounder of the SM Wright Foundation. “But we know that when kids get good sleep, they learn better. Their behavior is better, that’s why we started Beds for Kids.” He says that since the program began in 2010, it has given away more than 20,000 mattresses.

With a factory in Dallas, more than 70 years of experience, and the convenience of a “mattress in a box,” Milton Sleep Co. saw an obvious connection. 

“My grandparents had a history of philanthropy,” said CEO Michael Karotkin. “We’re trying to carry that forward … everybody deserves a great night’s sleep, especially children.”  

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That’s why on October 19, the company donated 10 mattresses and bed frames to S.M. Wright—a value of about $10,000. 

“On behalf of our 135 employees in our factory in Dallas, Milton is delighted to make life a little easier for some children through Beds for Kids,” said Karotkin. 

The company started doing business in Austin in the 1930s and grew to become the largest furniture manufacturer west of the Mississippi River.  

Back in 1959, the company signed a licensing agreement with Serta Mattresses, and ran both the furniture manufacturing and mattress businesses successfully for several decades. In 2003, they stopped manufacturing furniture to focus solely on the mattress business, which has seen several innovations in the recent past.  

“We acquired compression technology and put it to work,” said Karotkin. It flattens, rolls, and shrink-wraps mattresses to a size that will fit inside most SUVs. This “mattress in a box” hit the market in 2021 as a direct-to-consumer product and, along with Milton Sleep Company’s traditional product, helped the overall business grow by 25% in 2022. 

With distribution through a variety of Texas retailers, as well as the ability to ship anywhere domestically, Milton is on track for 15% growth in 2023. True to its roots, the company has a longtime strategic partnership with the Austin FC Soccer Club and Foster Angels of Central Texas. And now, after being in business for nearly 90 years, and helping millions of Texans get a good night’s rest, the company has found a new way to provide value—by helping Southern Dallas children get to sleep.  

[Courtesy photo]

Voices contributor Nicole Ward is a data journalist for the Dallas Regional Chamber.

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R E A D   N E X T

As a data journalist at the Dallas Regional Chamber, Ward writes about the innovation that is defining the Dallas region.