Mark Serure has achieved the American dream by helping babies sleep well at night.
Serure, founder and partner of family-run Dream On Me, built the company from a small infant-furniture maker into one of the largest sellers of baby mattresses in the Northeast by using a contrarian business model.
“Every other manufacturer sells cribs and a line of mattresses to go with them,” Serure said. “We do the opposite. We manufacture the mattresses and sell the cribs to go with them.
“Our bread and butter are our mattresses, which are high-ticket items. You make a profit off mattresses, not the cribs.”
Name: Dream On Me
Owner and Founder: Mark Serure
One more thing: Mark Serure’s family fled war-torn Lebanon when he was 4 years old for Israel. He arrived in the U.S. at the age of 16. Today, he heads Dream On Me with his son, Morris Srour, and brother, Joey Srour.
Serure, who came to the U.S. from Israel at 16, launched Dream On Me in 1987 out of a rundown warehouse in Brooklyn. In 2008, the company moved its headquarters to Piscataway and now employs over 200 workers — most of whom are New Jersey residents.
Currently, the company is hoping to spring forth its expansion plan — literally. Due to its growth over the past 20 years, it plans to invest roughly $50 million over the next three years into the business of manufacturing and selling its own mattress springs — a move that is expected to add up to 800 new jobs in New Jersey.
Serure emphasized that manufacturing mattress springs would save the company money going forward, as it would eliminate the shipping costs and taxes involved in importing mattresses. It would also help the company more quickly meet the demand for foam and spring mattresses, which has grown exponentially over the past decade thanks, in part, to the advent of e-commerce.
“A big part of our business is spring mattresses,” he said. “Starting in 2018, we will be in the process of importing machinery so that we can manufacture our own springs and sell them in the U.S. It’s going to be all private money that we will be investing.”
Today, roughly 85 percent of the company’s sales are through the internet. Dream On Me distributes its products nationwide from its two warehouses in Piscataway, where there are at least half a dozen FedEx trucks ready at all times to transport its mattresses to retail giants such as Amazon, Target and Toys R Us.
If you’re going to sell baby products, having a mother’s touch can only be a good thing.
Mark Serure, the owner and founder of Piscataway-based Dream on Me, takes pride in the fact that 80 percent of the company’s office staff is comprised of women, many of whom are working mothers.
“Who usually shops for a baby? It’s usually the mother, not the father,” Serure said. “So, therefore, a majority of our employees are women. We need the personal touch of a mother working for us.”
That mother’s touch also helps Dream On Me meet one of its biggest challenges going forward: keeping up with the changing demands for designer cribs and stylish baby gear.
So said Christina Conti, the company’s head of logistics and imports.
“Cribs sold 10 years ago are not the cribs being sold today,” she said. “With the newer models on the market, parents are looking for colors — they want to have trim and nurseries and designed cribs. They’re not just going into a store and picking up a natural-colored crib anymore. Therefore, we have to continue to look at the market to see what’s happening and see where the mothers are trending to.”
The expansion also involves the upcoming purchase of a baby products maker in New Jersey, which Serure declined to identify, and investments in child safety technology to guard against the risks of sudden infant death syndrome and enable parents to take real-time readings of their babies’ vital signs.
From Serure’s perspective, creating manufacturing jobs in U.S. isn’t a campaign promise, it’s smart business. He emphasized that manufacturing mattresses in the U.S. enables Dream On Me to cut import taxes and overseas shipping costs. Those lower costs also help the company offer luxury baby products at an affordable price.
“One of the reasons we are successful is that we are manufacturing our products here in New Jersey,” Serure said. “That enables us to lower the prices on our mattresses to push our cribs and undercut our competition.”