Made in USA Certified Customer Paramount Sleep USA-C:VA0AA.0119
By Carolyn Shapiro The Virginian-Pilot © January 26, 2012
U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson watched workers at the Paramount factory in Norfolk Industrial Park assemble the foam sides of a mattress.
He asked Paramount’s owners how consumers respond to high quality when buying a mattress.
James Diamonstein, Paramount’s president, explained that many mattress buyers are sensitive to price but might not realize the amount of work that goes into a handmade product.
“It’s a very expensive process,” said Diamonstein, who runs the 79-year-old business with his brother, Richard Diamonstein.
The day after President Barack Obama focused his State of the Union speech on the need to bolster U.S. manufacturing, he and Bryson hit the road to visit some of those companies. Paramount Industrial Cos. Inc. has worked with the Commerce Department’s international trade offices to develop overseas markets for U.S. products, Bryson said.
After he toured the factory on Kingwood Avenue, Bryson spoke to Paramount employees and city officials. He echoed some phrases the president used in the Tuesday night speech.
“We need all hands on deck to keep American manufacturing right on the cutting edge,” Bryson said.
He repeated Obama’s proposals to change the tax code to give incentives for creation of U.S. manufacturing jobs. “These are good-paying jobs,” he said. “And too many of them now are not being filled.”
The Comess brothers founded Paramount Bedding Corp. in 1933, and the Diamonsteins’ father took it over in 1986. Paramount made the King Koil mattress brand until late 2010, when it revamped its operations to create its own mattress brands, including Nature’s Spa and Quilt-O-Pedic, made with materials from mostly U.S. sources.
“In the past few years, we have reinvented ourselves to adjust to the realities of a new economy,” said Richard Diamonstein as he introduced Bryson.
The company, which has close to 100 employees, is now looking to sell its bedding in China and other countries.
After speaking, Bryson said China has benefitted from open trade with most of the world but has not reciprocated. “What they have not done is open their economy to our products and our small businesses,” he said.
Aaron Nixon, a Paramount supervisor, said he appreciated Bryson’s pledge to help U.S. manufacturers.
“That is very important, because a lot of them are going out of business and lack funds,” said Nixon, 50, who has worked for Paramount for 21 years. “We’ve got plenty of business. It’s just that you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”