Roger Pickett, president/owner of MurMaid Mattress Inc., has been named the 2014 Mel Bedwell Small Business Person of the Year by the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.
The announcement came during the Chamber’s annual luncheon honoring small businesses Monday afternoon.
It is the Chamber’s way of kicking off the celebration of Small Business Month and this year’s award is the 21st presented to a local owner of a small business.
For the 16th time, the award bears the name of Mel Bedwell, who owned Cleveland Business Machines and served on the Chamber’s Small Business committee which sponsors the themed month.
Pickett was presented the award by last year’s honoree, Debbie Melton of Don Ledford Automotive Center, who also serves as chairman of the Chamber’s board of directors.
Ledford noted Pickett’s “vision and commitment to his business and his community involvement.”
She said the award was based on staying power, growth in number of employees, increases in sales or unit volume, innovativeness of product or services offered, response to adversity and evidence of contributions to aid community-oriented projects.
MurMaid Matress was begun by Pickett’s parents, Elmer and Joy Murray, in 1979.
“During the 1980s, sales were $100,000 to $200,000 annually and rose to $300,000 by 1990,” Ledford said. “In 2012, sales increased to $7 million with 14 locations.”
Lynn Saunders, a longtime employee of the company, submitted Pickett’s nomination.
Saunders noted the transition from first- to second-generation leadership presented many challenges and compromises, especially surviving two economic recessions.
“During this time, he managed to keep the business intact with minimal downsizing and no loss of employees, due to an already lean workforce,” Saunders wrote. “Some store leases were not renewed, and multiple repair and maintenance projects, manual mail-out campaigns and various office tasks were given to manufacturing employees to keep them at a 40-hour week.”
Ledford also said Pickett donates bedding products and financially supports many organizations including People for Care and Learning, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Family Promise of Bradley County, Goodwill, Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, Bradley Long-term Recovery Organization, Junior Achievement of the Ocoee Region, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Chattanooga Furniture Bank and the Ronald McDonald House.
Pickett also volunteers as an assistant Sunday school teacher and is a member of First Baptist Church of Cleveland.
“I’ve witnessed Roger’s faithfulness to lead a Sunday school class of teenage boys for more than seven years,” said Jake Stum, director of programming and development for People for Care and Learning. “Roger Pickett is an individual Bradley County should be proud to recognize for his leadership, compassion and service.”
Pickett’s reaction to receiving the award was: “Speechless.”
“I am totally caught unaware and I appreciate it,” he said.