Our Favorite Mattress Men: An Interview with Alan and Richard Wolkin

At Colgate Mattress in Atlanta, Georgia, three generations of Wolkin family men build top-notch crib mattresses. For over 65 years, the Wolkin family has been educating parents on the value of investing in a handcrafted premium crib mattress made just for babies.
After serving in World War II as an airplane mechanic, founder Sol Wolkin worked at several textile companies and realized there was a lack of quality crib mattresses. In 1955 with only a $1,500 loan, Sol and his wife Anne Wolkin opened Colgate Mattress in a small, 4,000 square foot building with one sewing machine and a couple employees.

Colgate Mattress Founders Sol and Anne Wolkin

Today in its 60,000 square foot location in Atlanta’s historic Cabbagetown neighborhood, Colgate continues to embody the spirit and high standards that Sol and Anne instilled in the business and its employees, some of whom have been with the company for decades.
In recognition of Father’s Day and male leaders in the juvenile products manufacturing industry, Milk Street interviewed two of the multi-generational Wolkin men who are well-known for their modesty and dedication to family.

Q & A

As male founders in a predominantly female pregnant mom customer market, what is your most significant piece of advice for any other men in this space?

President Alan Wolkin, son of founders Sol and Anne Wolkin, remembers when he began working with his father in ninth or 10th grade.
“My father taught us we first needed basic skills in order to climb the ladder. You have to get your hands dirty with everyone else. So he had me start by sweeping. Colgate Mattress is known for personal and professional ethics, and we believe it’s important to always give customers the best quality for their money spent. My advice would be to start with a solid foundation of industry knowledge and never compromise the consumer or product value.”
Vice President Richard Wolkin, Alan’s brother, says listen to the insights provided by your female employees. “They know the ins and outs of this space much better than the men do when it really comes down to it! Listen to the feedback they provide and take it back to the table to incorporate into your business planning where you can.”

Colgate Mattress Vice President Richard Wolkin and his daughter Amanda Wolkin

You have made it a priority to build a company that is more than a product. Can you tell us what this means to you both?

Richard says the family practices in business the values instilled by founders Sol and Anne Wolkin.
“We have unmatched standards to produce highest-quality products to provide the most restful sleep so that parents can have peace of mind. This is important for us. We take pride in the durability, quality and safety of our crib mattresses, which is one of the most important purchases a parent will make, since babies will be there more than anywhere else — more than a stroller or car seat. A crib mattress is much more than a sleep surface — it’s a growth and development center.
We’ve handcrafted crib mattresses with care for over 65 years that our own kids, grandkids and great-grandkids have slept on. We believe in American ingenuity, craftsmanship and integrity. To some, they are a lost art but to us, they are simply our way of life. We care deeply about the proper development and safety of your child and stand behind every product we make. That’s just how we do business.”

How have you adapted to the children’s industry advancements and exciting potentials with innovation?

Alan commented, “Colgate Mattress has a longstanding history of innovation in the crib mattress category. We introduced the industry's first foam crib mattress more than half a century ago. More recently, we made a foam crib mattress using sustainable plant-based oils and have since continued to design and manufacture award-winning crib mattresses that are safe, healthy and comfortable for baby.”
Richard added, “We’re a founding member of Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) and were recently recognized as the first participant ever welcomed into the JPMA Certification Program in the Full-Size Crib Mattress program. The JPMA Certification Seal signifies that a product has met the strictest safety standards in today’s marketplace. To become certified, our products were rigorously tested at an independent laboratory.
For 60 years, JPMA has helped parents feel confident in choosing safe products for their baby – a mission we support with all of our company’s core values of integrity, loyalty and honesty.”

Representing the second and third generations of the Wolkin family at Colgate Mattress are (from left) Chief Operating Officer Dennis Wolkin, Vice President Richard Wolkin, President Alan Wolkin and Operations Manager Brent Wolkin

The Earth-friendly piece is critical right now- What standards do you follow, and how are you responsible for your production?

Richard responded, “We have a long-standing commitment to families — All Colgate Mattress products are free from harmful chemicals or emissions and are 100% safe for your baby. We hold ourselves to a higher standard than our industry. Every Colgate product passes all federal and state requirements for flammability and chemical composition. Our crib mattresses are also GREENGUARD Gold certified to have no harmful air emissions.
If it’s not 100% organic, Colgate Mattress will not call it organic. We call it eco-friendly if the product uses natural and organic components in its composition. We take exception when companies intentionally mislead consumers and market products that aren’t truly organic.”

What do you wish for your grandchildren to remember one thing about their family business? What would it be?

Alan said, “I hope it’s Colgate's reputation as a trusted crib mattress advisor to the families they serve. No topic is more near and dear to our hearts than the safety of children. A parent should have education, resources and guidance when choosing a safe sleep environment. As America's trusted crib mattress specialist, Colgate Mattress is committed to helping parents understand safe sleep practices to ensure their baby’s first years are safe, sound and happy.”
Seeking guidance from the company’s female employees, mommy bloggers and family members has kept the Wolkin guys ahead of the curve. They focus on what’s on the inside of their mattresses, but when it comes to design and style, they listen to important women who surround them in their business including reputable super moms and their own spouses. But it’s not male versus female; it’s about the operational excellence it takes to maintain a factory for over half a century. To learn more about Colgate Mattress and their handcrafted products, visit www.colgatekids.com.

Favorite Product 

The CuddleSnooze™ Hybrid Superior is a breathable dual-firmness hybrid mattress designed to gently lull baby into a cozy, sound and restful sleep throughout the infant and toddler years. The infant side features a firm, high-density EcoFoam™ with KulKote Copper® for microbial control, temperature regulation and recommended support. The toddler side features a foam panel and durable microcoils for added pressure relief and breathability. In keeping safety first, the CuddleSnooze™ Hybrid Superior is handcrafted with a breathable honeycomb mesh spacer to promote airflow and an anti-flammability barrier made with chemical-free cloth. All this is wrapped in a velvety organic cotton cover with waterproof-backing on top and bottom to ensure the mattress stays dry and non-waterproofed sides for optimal breathability and air circulation. 

Like all Colgate mattresses, the CuddleSnooze™ Hybrid Superior is GREENGUARD ® Gold certified, CertiPUR-US ® certified, CPSIA compliant, and compliant with all federal and state flammability requirements – without the use of fire retardant chemicals. Your CuddleSnooze™ Hybrid Superior is proudly handcrafted by Colgate Mattress, the Crib Mattress Specialist ®, a family-owned and operated business dedicated to baby’s safety since 1955.
Above: Representing the second and third generations of the Wolkin family at Colgate Mattress are (from left) Chief Operating Officer Dennis Wolkin, Vice President Richard Wolkin, President Alan Wolkin and Operations Manager Brent Wolkin.

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