Marx Industries succeeds by dedication, employees

Feb. 09, 2014 @ 07:02 AM

Mark Kiser used to work for what is now his competition, until his father encouraged him to break from the pack and start his own business.

That’s exactly what he did and in 1983 founded Marx Industries, a manufacturer of custom foam products -- cushions, pillows, mattresses, footstools and more for the furniture industry and other customers.

When the company started, it set up residence in a small space in Hildebran, but today it occupies 180,000 square feet in two buildings on U.S. 321-A in Sawmills.

Through updating machinery, equipment and technology, Kiser was able to streamline the process, heightening quality and consistency among his products, eliminating the need for patterns and using computerized cutting machines to ensure each piece is cut to specifications.

The company has grown and currently employs 70, and with new orders coming in, Kiser hopes to be hiring around the start of summer.

The company struggled for a long time, Kiser said, recalling times he worked through the night, but he joked that he wasn’t “smart enough to quit.”

But what really sets the company apart from its competitors are the employees, Kiser said, “I think we have really good employees that want to do a really good job,” he said. “They take a large amount of pride in their work.”

Marx produces a number of high-tech foam components, including fire-resistant, low-smoke foam, which only Marx and one other company in the country produce. The low-smoke foam is used for various applications, including wallboards and cushions for airplanes, buses and ships that require fire-resistant products.

Marx’s main products are that foam and its mattresses for prison cells. While most of his products, including cushions and pillows, are sold to furniture companies in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, the prison mattresses are shipped across the country. Marx advertises the mattresses as being more durable and resistant to stain and rot than others, and can even be taken outside and hosed off if need be without worrying of compromising the materials.

Technology is at the forefront of Marx’s work. Though cushions, pillows and mattresses may seem straightforward, some can contain 10 or 12 moving parts within the upholstery, Kiser said.

Looking to the future, Kiser is optimistic about new contracts, such as a recent one to supply the U.S. Coast Guard with low-smoke mattresses, and the company “continues to develop new ways to do things and new products,” Kiser said.