"There people are going to be displaced for a very long time."
That's David Farley, CEO of Anatomic Global, a Southern California mattress manufacturer better known for eco-friendly memory foam bedding. However, his company is now ramping up production to manufacture special mattresses for earthquake victims in Haiti. How many mattresses? TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND. Farley says that after the earthquake, the company analyzed how much it would cost to turn out 100,000 of these rugged, cot-style mattresses. "I simply stepped up and doubled the number."
The first batch of 500 mattresses, called the World Bed, has already arrived at churches in Haiti to be distributed. You can see one in this picture of some children sitting on one at a church in the Haitian town of Jacmel.
Anatomic Global is getting feedback from people on the ground in Haiti, and Farley says they're willing to modify the mattresses as needed. The World Bed weighs about eight pounds and is encased in a rugged nylon cover to keep out moisture. It also comes with a strap so that it can be carried over the shoulder. The strap is new, a lesson learned after the company sent 3,000 similar mattresses to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Farley says the company learned a lot from the Katrina experience. "Don't get in too soon, and make sure that what you produce is used and useful." Turning out three thousand mattresses for Katrina victims is one thing. But 200,000 mattresses to Haiti? "It is a high goal indeed," he says, "but you've got to stop and take a deep breath. It is possible."
The World Beds cost about $35 apiece, and the company has guaranteed it will produce 30,000 of them in the next three months at a cost of $1 million, with the help of suppliers like Foamex International and "a couple of select customers". Farley is seeking help from corporate donors, financial services companies, and the federal government to fund the full 200,000 mattresses, which he says will cost a total of $7.5 million.
It could take six to eight months to manufacture all of the mattresses, but, even then, "the need will exist," Farley says.
Of all the companies flooding Haiti with help, the World Bed will be one of the most unusual donations, a gift that will last a long time. For people who've lost everything, it may help them sleep just a little bit better.
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