Kurt Ling, vice president of innovation, Simmons Bedding Co., Atlanta
By Interview by Matthew Boyle

(FORTUNE Magazine) – I WAS ALWAYS A SOUND SLEEPER. I JOINED Simmons as head of the Beautyrest brand, but I found I had more of a passion for working on new stuff, like the HealthSmart. You shed millions of skin cells all day, and dust mites feed on them. The weight of a mattress will double every ten years because of the dead bugs inside. So we created a cover that you can take off and wash--it's made from stuff similar to what's in Nike's Dri-Fit [apparel]. We do two main tests for mattresses. One is durability--we just beat it up. We have a great big thing called the Rollator that simulates a 180-pound person rolling across the bed. The other test is motion transfer--when he is moving all night long, will she feel it? We use the Rollator and a manikin. Two lasers take measurements, and you see how much it moves during the night. I'm the first guy to do a sleep test: I go over to our R&D center after lunch and take a nap. Then I have the mattress delivered to my house, and my wife and I sleep on it. Our guys will say that Kurt has the most sensitive butt of anyone at the company. I would like to think brainpower was how I got the job, but I don't know. -- Interview by Matthew Boyle