A One of a Kind: Jim ‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale
Gallery Furniture owner, Jim McIngvale does more than ‘save you money’ for the Houston community. As the Houston icon, better known as Mattress Mack, Jim has built a business and a legacy based on faith and hard work.
“He is somebody who is ambitious and driven, thankful beyond belief and doesn’t take no for an answer,” Mack’s daughter Elizabeth McIngvale said. “First and foremost he has always lived a life built for others. My dad really embodies that.”
Mack started Gallery Furniture on the side of 1-45 in an abandoned model home park over 30 years ago. Initially, Mack had great success. The same year he started selling furniture Houston experienced a great wave of families migrating to the city from all over the country. This was perfect for Mack, but sales began to decline after the family boom.
It was during this time of a dramatic halt in sales, that the “save you money” slogan was born. Gallery Furniture experienced a huge shift in sales because of it. Shortly after, Mack started branching away from selling only value-priced furniture to include higher-end furniture as well.
With his life’s motto ‘grateful for everything, entitled to nothing’ directing his life, Mack grew his dream into a multi-million dollar enterprise employing over 400 great American workers and countless other Americans through his commitment to selling furniture made in America.
“The Houston community is everything to us,” Mack said. “We believe in providing jobs in Texas and jobs for Houstonians, and great products for our customers. We are here to provide great jobs and great products for America.”
When asked what has contributed to his success, Mack said it was his faith in God, great customers, a great community and the best employees in the world. Around Houston Mack is known for ‘saving you money’ but he is also known for his philanthropic heart.
Every Christmas, Mack donates households of furniture to needy families. In 2009, Gallery Furniture committed to providing new furniture to various United Service Organizations centers around the world. He has also invested back into the community through the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo livestock auctions, and regularly participating in speaking engagements at schools and other groups.
“My parents never looked at money and success as what’s important,” Elizabeth said. “They’ve truly looked at making a difference as what is important in life.”
Especially, when it comes to an issue that hits close to home for the McIngvale family – mental illness. As a twelve-year-old, Elizabeth was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
“My family always looked at it as an opportunity to take my personal journey, struggle and pain, and make it into something positive for someone else,” Elizabeth said. “We turned it into a passion to make a difference in Houston, Texas and across the nation for mental illness. It has been inspiring to watch.”
Elizabeth and Mack speak in the Houston community frequently on mental health, in an effort to eliminate the mental illness stigma and make a difference in the lives of others who are suffering. The McIngvale’s founded the Peace of Mind Foundation to advocate for OCD and other mental illness.
The legacy of Mack is no doubt an admirable one. Perhaps, the best illustration of his legacy isn’t his business, but his three children – James McIngvale, Elizabeth and Laura McIngvale Brown. Elizabeth and Laura both shared how above anything their father instilled in them and their brother the value of hard work and a job well done.
“My dad is the same person he was when were growing up that he is now,” Laura said. “Insanely driven and passionate about what he does and an all around good guy. When he says he is going to do something, he not only gets it done but he makes sure it is done correctly and morally right.”
All of which has rubbed off on his children. Day in and day out, James works with his father to continue moving Gallery Furniture forward using those same values. Elizabeth has followed her passion to help others through her career as a social worker and assistant professor at the Diana Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University.
Laura has combined her passion of restaurant hospitality with her father’s business by opening Brick and Mortar Kitchen in conjunction to Gallery Furniture’s Grand Parkway location.
“It has been really neat to have the restaurant in Houston that my parents can go to,” Laura said. “I really feel like I have made them proud by having it there for them to take clients, customers and friends too.”
Outside of the Houston restaurant, Laura and her husband own the Vince Young Steak House in Austin where they first began their restaurant career. Through their restaurant business, Laura said they try and do things like Mack does.
Mack’s children are each continuing on his legacy. They seem to depict the many qualities and characteristics that make up Mack in their own unique way.
“Success doesn’t mean money,” Laura said. “It doesn’t mean being a celebrity and it doesn’t mean any of those things that a lot of people equate with success. It means being happy, enjoying your life and doing better for others. And he instilled that in all of us.”
Mack is still Mack. Neither time nor success has ever changed that. As to how he got to where he is today, he simply says that’s just how the free enterprise system works and that God is good. Although, he doesn’t take for granted the Houston community that has helped him get there.
“We wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” Mack said. “They are the alpha and omega of Gallery Furniture, along with the good Lord looking over us. If we can keep the faith, grow the business and help the people then we are doing something right.”
Well Mack has been doing it right for 30 plus years and his legacy is there to prove it.
“My dad is one of a kind,” Elizabeth said. “Sure, I am biased to say that because I’m his daughter, but I think the Houston community would say the same thing.”