'Mattress Mack' Encourages Students to Become 'hashtag' Remarkable

Jim McIngvale and Dr. Evans
Jim McIngvale (left), successful Houston furniture entrepreneur shared his story and priceless wisdom with organizational leadership and supervision (OLS) class at the University of Houston, November 9. Dr. Jerry Evans, OLS professor, organized the event (right).

Jim McIngvale, founder and owner of Gallery Furniture, has not taken his extraordinary business success for granted. His calling to the retail business began about 35 years ago when he worked as a bagger at a grocery store, making only $3 per hour before moving on to work at a small furniture store in Dallas. McIngvale said, "I found out that I was good at selling and realized that it is all about keeping promises and being transparent to customers."

His experiences led to an eventual move to Houston in the early 80’s with what he calls an unfair advantage called desire, mixed with persistence. McIngvale’s determination to make a difference is the impetus for his hard work, commitment, and dedication to customers. "Today Gallery Furniture exists to deliver made in America furniture and provide jobs in retailing, logistics, manufacturing, and exporting. With our customers there are no guarantees (about their satisfaction) unless you become known as "hashtag" remarkable because of the promises you keep," McIngvale explained.

His talk was packed with sage advice and wisdom, cleverly interspersed with remarkable stories that entertained and inspired the UH students. The common theme among his stories included his personal encounters with unassuming heroes - individuals who proved to have lives built for others, and overcomers who have met challenges by learning how to fight, amid setbacks. 

McIngvale’s reflections bore some encouraging tips for the OLS students and aspiring leaders:

  • It is necessary to develop great people skills, regardless of the business. Just ask yourself, “Would customers pay me for what I am doing?”
  • Find your passion.  By landing a job that you like, you will never have to work a day in your life. 
  •  In the spirit of lifelong learning, evaluate what you are doing today to get better.
  • Embrace technology. Be open to change that makes a difference.
  • Aim to become known as extraordinary – #remarkable