Summarized by Kent Larsen
Mormon Businessman To Be Honored By ADL
Greensboro NC News-Record 21May00 B2
By Mark Binker: Staff Writer, News & Record
HIGH POINT, NORTH CAROLINA -- Mormon businessman Ron Jones will be
honored next month by the national interior furnishings and design
division of the Anti-Defamation League. The organization will honor
Jones, 57, for his leadership in making his employees aware of and
resist hatred, bigotry and prejudice. The award will be presented at
the division's dinner next month.
Jones, who is president of nationally-known matress manufacturer
Sealy, best known for the Sealy Posturepedic Matress, is a native of
Sedalia, Missouri and once attended a seminary in Kansas City,
seeking to become a priest. However, he then converted to Mormonism.
Jones told the News-Record that the Mormon Church "has no paid
ministries so when I changed religions I had to change my vocational
He then wen to work as an institutional food manager and eventually
joined the office furniture manufacturer HON Co., where he worked his
way up to become its President and Chief Operating Officer. In 1988,
Jones joined Masco Home Furnishings, a group of 14 companies that he
helped grow from $800 million in sales to more than $2 billion before
he left in 1996 to join Sealy., the nation's largest mattress
manufacturer with operations in 25 U.S. states and in Canada and
The move to Sealy was a challenge for Jones, as he moved from the
furniture industry to mattresses. "We essentially sell to the same
customer base as furniture companies do. But it's very fast paced,
highly competitive and you're changing the product constantly.
There's a tremendous emphasis on advertising," he said.
Jones' peers are impressed with his leadership and the balance that
he demonstrates with his commitment to the community, "Ron is a
sincere, committed and responsive leader both in a business context
and in the community," said Neil Goldberg, president and CEO of the
New York-based furniture retailer Raymour &Flanigan. Goldberg also
is chairman of the Anti-Defamation League's dinner.
Since he first reached management, Jones has acquired a reputation
for being sensitive to community concerns. In 1993, while at Masco,
he responded to the concerns of a group of Vietnam Veterans, who were
concerned that Masco had illegally imported furniture from Vietnam.
Jones averted a planned protest by the group by allowing the group to
investigate on its own and convince themselves that Masco had
imported the furniture in error. After the furniture was either
destroyed or sent back, the group called off their protest, scheduled
to occur during an important trade show.
Jones' service includes not only his service to his Church, but also
service on the board of the High Point Regional Hospital and as a
trustee of High Point University. His sensitivity can also be seen in
Sealy's move to High Point, North Carolina from Cleveland, Ohio.
Jones put off the issue until the lease on Sealy's corporate offices
expired, two years after he joined the company. The decision then
came down to a vote of the Board of Directors, in which a unanimous
vote of the directors was required for the move. When the secret
votes were counted, there was in fact one vote against the move --
Jones' vote. "In case someone else had voted to stay, I didn't want
them to feel like they were the only one keeping the company in
Cleveland," Jones said. When he discovered that his vote was the only
vote against the move, he promptly switched his vote and in 1999 the
company opened its new headquarters in Trinity, North Carolina.
Jones is glad that the move was accomplished without his having to
pull rank on the others, something he tries hard to avoid,
"Unfortunately, I think there is a part of human nature that makes it
easier to build walls than bridges," he said. "If we're not careful,
we build distinctions that separate us and make it hard to
It is exactly this attitude that lead the Anti-Defamation League to