USD grad planning unique hunting trip by David Lias October is traditionally a time when South Dakota�s pheasants, waterfowl and other wild game draw hunters like a magnet.
It�s a time when Darin Lewin, a graduate of West Central High School, Hartford, and a 1991 graduate of The University of South Dakota, returns to his home state every year.
Lewin isn�t looking for wild game, however. He comes back to hunt for employees for The Mattress Firm, his bedroom furniture retail outlet that is spreading like wildfire throughout Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
�This year we�ll be back in Vermillion during the high school football championships,� he said in a phone conversation from his store in Atlanta, GA.
The Mattress Firm is a specialty sleep shop that sells mattresses, bedroom furniture, daybeds, bunkbeds and futons. It was established in Houston, TX in 1986 by three gentlemen from South Dakota.
Every semester since the spring of 1997, Lewin has accompanied a select group of USD alumni now working for The Mattress Firm back to Vermillion to recruit future employees.
In the past 16 months, Lewin has hired 17 new employees from USD. Of the Mattress Firm�s 13 locations in Atlanta, USD alumni manage nine.
After Lewin graduated from USD in 1991 with a business degree, he was hired as a sales associate for the business. He soon worked his way up to store manager and then eventually an area manager, overseeing several stores.
In 1996, Lewin established Elite Enterprises Inc. and became the franchise owner of the new Atlanta-based market. Lewin and his partner, Steve Stagner, quickly built their franchise into a 28-store chain in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Lewin will be in Vermillion from Nov. 3-8. He will be setting his sights on USD students who will graduate soon. �We typically look for people who are aggressive, because they need to be in charge of a lot of things. They also have to be willing to move half way across the country.�
Working for the Mattress Firm can be a rewarding experience for the right person. This year, the company is expected to generate $30 million in total sales. Next year�s sales projections are $54 million.
�We�ve got some pretty aggressive growth plans,� Lewin said. �We plan to open a new store every three weeks. We base our new market growth on the ability to find new employees.�