For 53 years now Bedmat near Nelspruit has been supplying the Lowveld with quality beds and have gone a long way in making a good name for them in the sleep industry. We caught up with Daleen Mulder who has been taking care of the business her father literally built from the ground up.
By Benno Stander
Running into Daleen is always a treat and usually ends up in a conversation that covers everything from painting to Posturepedics. “I must tell you, business wasn’t really my thing and I’ve had to learn a lot since taking over,” she remarks.
According to Daleen her father, Eddie Papendorf, was a stubborn man at times. His personality made it difficult for him to work for a boss and he often changed jobs because of personal clashes. One day after another such incident he decided no more. So in 1960 he made up his mind that it would probably be better if he did his own thing. He knew how to work with his hands and started building iron beds under a tree in Plaston where the family used to rent a property.
Soon after starting the bank approached Eddie and offered him a loan to get his business off the ground. At first he declined the offer but later accepted since it meant he could expand his business. It was only years later that he found out that it was in fact George Turner who approached the bank, signed surety for him and arranged the loan. “George told the bank manager that he could see this boertjie had a plan,” Daleen laughs.
The loan made it possible to buy all the material they needed to start production on a larger scale. “While my father was outside welding beds my mother was in the big farm house kitchen stitching matrasses.” At 81 years of age Daleen’s mother, Mats Papendorf, is still very much part of the business and laughingly tells her version. “I did really badly with sewing at school but when we were dependent on it for income I soon got the hang of it and stitched matrasses by the hundreds.”
In time they also managed to build a shed where they could work, but unfortunately it burnt down when a spark from the welding machine landed on the fabric used for the matrasses. So in 1966 the property where Bedmat is based today was bought for R200, including business rights.
The property had big sheds where ox wagons used to load and offload fresh produce that was headed for Lourenço Marques. They were then turned into a new factory and later broken down and rebuilt. When the new factory was up and running things picked up drastically and before long Bedmat was mass producing.
In the 70s Eddie started manufacturing wooden bases for companies in Johannesburg and produced truckloads on a weekly basis. Eddie was a genius in his own right and designed and built all the machines they used in the manufacturing process. Many of his machines still stand in the factory today and get used daily.
But he was also restless and grew tired of the production process. This is when he started speculating with shares and even started a gold mine in Malalane. In 1990 Eddie wanted to mine full time and this is when Daleen got involved in the business. “I had a week old baby when we decided to move to the Lowveld. I had to learn quickly and with trends constantly changing we had to adapt quite a lot over the years,” Daleen explains.
What we do
Bedmat is known for their beds and matrasses and not only makes custom sponge mattresses from the best quality SABS approved sponge, they also retail and wholesale guaranteed brands of beds. Creighton Palmer heads up the production side of things and is also in charge of the upholstery department which can professionally cover anything from a pillow to a coach.
“Then we also supply a wide range of linen and focus especially on green ranges that do not need to be ironed. These are becoming increasingly popular with individuals and especially with the hospitality industry,” explains Daleen.
True to the origins of the company Bedmat also still sells a wide variety of wooden bases and iron beds, lockers, school desks and more. But more than anything, they are still very much in the business of giving you a good night’s sleep.
Talk to us
For more information be sure to call us on: 013 741 2248