Maxime Knitting grows by adding capacity, innovating through fabrics and expanding its services
A newcomer to the bedding industry just 16 years ago, Maxime Knitting Mills Inc. has grown into one of the largest suppliers of knitted mattress fabrics in North America and a valued resource for a range of other sleep-related products and services, including zippered covers and cut-and-sew work.
The Montreal-based company has come a long way since its founding by Denis Thériault in 1985. Thériault started his business after working for years as a mechanic in another textile mill. His initial specialty was apparel, but facing import competition from Asia and Mexico, he made the difficult decision to switch production to bedding textiles.
“My father took everything he had saved from the previous 20 years and invested in six European knitting machines for use in making ticking for mattresses,” says Maxime Thériault, president of Maxime Knitting since 2014. “It was a big risk that he had to take because he knew his company could no longer survive in the apparel business.”
To assist with the company’s transition, Denis Thériault brought on Lorne Romoff, a former competitor. The two executives had a wealth of experience knitting apparel, but no knowledge of bedding.
“Knitting was the easy part,” says Romoff, vice president of sales and marketing. “The challenge was getting up to speed on the nuances of a completely new industry. We had to gain an understanding of these customers’ needs and how they worked.”
For the first few years, Maxime Knitting concentrated on serving bed producers in Canada. “We were the only circular knitter in Canada, so that opened doors for us,” Maxime Thériault says. “In those days, most ticking in North America was woven rather than knitted.”
As Maxime Knitting’s base of business grew, the company began to expand its reach. In 2008, it entered the U.S. market, which was dominated by a handful of big fabric suppliers.
“We started hiring salespeople and putting together a comprehensive line of products,” Thériault says. “Over time, knits became more and more important and our business took off.”