Standing Ovation for Tempur’s Higginbotham

Tempur Sealy’s Paula Higginbotham, with BrandSource VP of Events Jennifer Baldwin and national board member Tim Hillebrand, accepts her Women in Business Standing Ovation Award at Summit.

WiB award winner lauded for going above and beyond

By Janet Weyandt, YSN

Paula Higginbotham, Tempur Sealy’s national accounts manager for buying groups, was awarded the Women in Business Standing Ovation Award on the Summit mainstage on Monday.

Higginbotham began her career in the mattress industry accidentally, taking a job in a retail sleep shop straight out of college, but dreamt of other things.

“I got into the industry because my best friend’s father owned a chain of sleep shops,” she said. “I had no intention of selling mattresses for a living. And 36 years later I’m selling mattresses for a living, and I love this industry so much.”

The award was presented after a video showing Higginbotham talking about her career in a male-dominated industry, including the strong influence of her mother, who also owned a business. The presentation included video messages from her children: Son Zachary’s message centered on how proud he is and how deserving Higginbotham is of this accolade, and daughter Kayla, who accompanied her mom to the award ceremony, spoke about the strong influence Higginbotham has has on her own life and career.

At TSI, Higginbotham is responsible for devising programs that will help drive business to BrandSource members’ businesses. She also attends all of BrandSource’s national and regional events, working with members to add mattresses to their inventory.

“When I’m at your region meetings, that’s my favorite,” she said. “I’m one-on-one with retailers in that region, I get face time with all of them. It’s taking another thing and adding (mattresses) to their store, their profit, their margins, and to me that’s everything.”

Dori Easterson, BrandSource’s director of communications and branding operations, was one of the people who nominated Higginbotham for the WiB award. In her nomination, Easterson stressed the care Higginbotham takes in getting to know members.

“She is a leader who other women trust to help strengthen them and boost their confidence,” Easterson wrote. “She looks out for all of our members and is a true inspiration, not only to me, but women throughout our industry. She has built relationships with all our members, even if they are not carrying Tempur Sealy products.”

When Higginbotham started out in her industry, most retail positions were held by women, she said, and the top spots were heavily male. That has shifted over the years, and her own team is evenly divided between men and women.

“When I flipped to the manufacturer’s side 20 years ago, I was one of very few women who worked at Sealy at the time,” she said. Higginbotham worked for Sealy before it was purchased by Tempur-Pedic in 2013. “We are making some strides. There are more women; I’m seeing more VP roles with women in my company than I have in the past,” she noted.

Higginbotham said she was stunned when she learned she was the BrandSource Women in Business Award winner this year.

“I just had no idea I was ever even going to be in the running for something like this,” she said. “I’m a little embarrassed to say I got very choked up.”

She added, “I’m very honored to just be in the company of all those fabulous women who got it before me.”

YSN publisher AVB BrandSource is the nation’s largest merchandising and marketing co-op for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.

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