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Utah Business

Learn how Purple went from furloughing their workforce to hiring over 900 employees.

How Purple hired 900+ employees during a pandemic

When Purple, an online mattress company, had to furlough a third of its workforce this March due to changes in the economy driven by COVID-19, they had no idea that they’d be bursting at the seams with almost a thousand new employees and tons of company growth only a few months later. 

But the more you think about it, the more it makes sense, Purple is a brand dedicated to comfort. And if there’s one thing that everyone needs in the middle of a pandemic it’s a little comfort, whether that be in a new job or a new mattress. 

In March, when we were suddenly shut into our houses and forced to use folding chairs instead of office chairs, take Zoom calls in the closet, and answer emails from our bed in the morning (though, this last one wasn’t nearly the worst part of the experience) we realized how much we wanted to improve our homes with things― like mattresses―that would make staying there a little more comfortable. 

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Home improvement spending increased by 22.6 in the months of lockdown, according to a Quickrete study, and companies in these categories, like Utah-based Purple, were feeling the heat to keep up with consumer demand.  

Prior to the pandemic, Purple was focusing on a wholesale model but when in-person sales crashed in March due to COVID restrictions and stay-at-home orders, the company made the tough decision to furlough some of their workforce, doing whatever they could to make the transition for those furloughed a little easier.

However, in order to bring the furloughed employees back, the executive team knew it was crucial that the remaining employees adapt to the demands of the changing economy and bring the same shopping experience to customers online. And fortunately, thanks to an incredible workforce built by an investment in talent, Purple was ready to provide that online switch that customers were so desperately in need of. 

“Right now, people are looking for innovative comfort solutions, whether that’s mattresses, pillows or seat cushions,” says Joe Megibow, CEO at Purple. “With a significant number of new shoppers online as opposed to traditionally in-store shoppers, we were able to successfully and efficiently spend into casting a much wider net and acquire and convert that new addressable market.”

Within weeks of the company pivot Purple almost couldn’t keep up with the demand for its product.“We saw rapidly growing demand for our seat cushions as home-based workers found the need for better comfort and health at their often makeshift workstations,” says Megibow.

Suddenly, sales were higher than they were before and all furloughed employees were brought back to the company. Purple was succeeding so well with the pivoted mindset, that Megibow knew that this was the perfect time to focus on growth and bring even more employees on. As any business leader knows, chances for growth have to be capitalized upon, no matter the business climate. 

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“We’ve hired almost 900 manufacturing and corporate employees this year and are still working to fully staff up, particularly on our warehouse, fulfillment and production teams,” says Megibow. Orders keep coming in and Purple isn’t even at 100 percent of capacity yet, and Megibow stresses that job positions are still open (purple.com/careers).

“We’ve really had to stretch ourselves to acquire new talent,” says Megibow. “We do most of our recruiting in-house and we’ve been casting a wide net on all of our digital channels, posting on job boards and encouraging referrals.” 

Regardless, Megibow is grateful that the company is in such an incredible position for growth, despite the current circumstances, and credits his team with making such fast, timely decisions for the health of their consumer, the market, and Purple as a whole. 

“The growth didn’t just fall into our laps,” says Megibow, encouraging other executives to invest deeply into talent. “Ultimately, it came down to the internal work we’ve been doing over the last two years as we turned our company around. We’ve been investing in better talent, getting that talent the resources they need, improving project management and corporate processes to better enable successful outcomes, and empowering our employees to keep growing and maturing our business.

“Purple is that it’s a truly great place to work, and that’s been an intentional effort on our part. We’ve focused on building culture and offering growth opportunities rather than just a job.”

Megibow believes that when employees are happy, fulfilled, and comforted, their customers are too, creating an incredible experience all around. And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. 

When describing the current climate Megibow reflects, “If nothing else, it gives me comfort to know that they all are getting a great night’s sleep in their Purple beds.”

Utah Business provides award-winning, in-depth journalism on the tech and entrepreneurial businesses at the forefront of our nation's economy. Our print and digital publications reach millions of executives across the state and our live and in-person events provide deep-dive access into the industries shaping our future.