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Mattress Mack motivates UHV business students

Oct. 5, 2013 at 5:05 a.m.

Jim McIngvale, founder and owner of Gallery Furniture, second from right, poses for a photo with Phil Castille, University of Houston-Victoria president, left; Farhang Niroomand, dean of the UHV School of Business Administration; and Richard Phillips, associate vice chancellor for UH System initiatives. McIngvale, better known as Mattress Mack, spoke during the Sept. 25 Willis Group Distinguished Speaker Series in Sugar Land.

Jim McIngvale, founder and owner of Gallery Furniture, was asked during a recent University of Houston-Victoria School of Business Administration event why his company has always offered same-day delivery.

McIngvale, better known as Mattress Mack, replied that in the early years of his business, he was so afraid customers would change their minds that he would put the purchased item in a pickup and follow them home to deliver it.

When students look at successful companies, they don't always see the trials and tribulations the company founders go through, said Jeff Blodgett, associate dean of the UHV School of Business Administration.

"Everyone sees Mattress Mack on TV and the photos with him and celebrities, but it wasn't always that way," Blodgett said. "He talked about the uncertainty of whether the store would make it and how when he came home at night, his wish was to stay open for one more day. It took him 10 years before he knew the business would sustain itself. It's a good lesson for our students about work ethic and perseverance."

McIngvale spoke to an overflow crowd of UHV students, faculty, staff and Fort Bend County business leaders Sept. 25 at UH Sugar Land during the latest installment of the Willis Group Distinguished Speaker Series.

McIngvale, who started out selling furniture under a tent along Interstate 45 in Houston, founded Gallery Furniture in 1981. A highly acclaimed entrepreneur, McIngvale is known as an innovative marketer. His two Houston stores offer unique shopping experiences. There are indoor playgrounds for children, exotic birds perched throughout the stores and monkeys in cages. Shoppers also can enjoy free ice cream or cookies and look at sports memorabilia.

The Willis Group Distinguished Speaker Series began in 2011. Past speakers have included Houston-area executives in the health care, oil and gas, real estate and staffing industries such as Farouk Shami, founder and chairman of Farouk Systems; Steven Kaufman, president of Zeus Mortgage; and Herber Lacerda, president and CEO of Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers.

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