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Novato bedding importer buys 86,000 square feet; doubled sales in 2010

[caption id="attachment_35639" align="alignright" width="302" caption="Natural Comfort Co. principals Terrence Weng, Willie Weng and David Choi"][/caption]

PETALUMA -- Novato-based bedding importer Natural Comfort Co. LLC has taken advantage of the rapidly changing Petaluma commercial real estate market to secure better-configured space for a growing company.

Natural Comfort is the latest in a number of companies from Marin County and elsewhere in Sonoma County that have been relocating to Petaluma because of rents and building prices substantially below what they were just a few years ago.

Terrence Weng, his older brother Willie Weng and cousin David Choi plan to move the company to a portion of an 86,500-square-foot foreclosed warehouse they purchased at 3925 Cypress Drive in south Petaluma in the next few months. They plan to lease the rest of the space.

"We were looking for warehouse space, but we wanted 28-foot clear height," said Terrence Weng, referring to the ceiling height for stacking inventory. "Instead of two separate warehouses, we now have one big one that fits all our purposes.

The company has 12 employees and plans to hire a few more for customer service, accounting and warehouse functions.

What is now Natural Comfort started in 1998 in Concord and moved to Novato about five years ago. The company imports from Asian and domestic manufacturers blankets, comforters, throws, pillows, featherbeds, quilts and mattress toppers with natural fillings such as goose down as well as duvet covers, sheets, bedspreads and bed skirts made from  high-thread-count cotton, silk, wood-fiber and bamboo fabrics.

The company targets the hospitality industry -- primarily, hotels and cruise lines -- selling to them through distributors. Between 30 percent and 40 percent of Natural Comfort's business is private label to help customers with quality and inventory control, according to Mr. Weng.

The recent economic recession and soaring prices for commodities such as cotton have taken their toll on bedding suppliers and the industries they serve. However, Natural Comfort has continued to pick up sales, which doubled from 2009 to 2010 and are on track to rise 50 percent this year, according to Mr. Weng.

The U.S. Pan Asian Chamber of Commerce ranked Natural Comfort among Ernst & Young's Fast 50 Asian American Business award-winners in 2010 and 2011.

The principals of Natural Comfort also own a La Quinta hotel in Livermore and CDEX LLC, an information technology consulting firm that also will be relocating to the Petaluma building.

Natural Comfort purchased 3925 Cypress for $4.2 million, or about $48 a square foot on May 10.

"They bought an 86,000-square-foot building at the price tag of a 40,000-to-50,000-square-foot building they were looking for, which normally would sell for $80 to $100 a square foot," said Tony Sarno in Keegan & Coppin's Petaluma office. Natural Comfort currently occupies about 30,000 square feet in two buildings in the Bel Marin Keys industrial area of Novato.

Mr. Sarno represented an agent of the note holder, Bear Stearns Commercial Mortgage Securities Trust series 2000-WF1 Oakmead-North. Sharlene Sha of Green Valley Realtors represented Natural Comfort.

The 11-year-old vacant building housed Industrial Devices Corp. years ago and was foreclosed on in July 2010. The property was the largest contributor to $5.1 million in losses expected for three loans that were in special servicing in the remaining $39 million in commercial mortgage-back security pool, which originally had $888 million in loans, according to Fitch Ratings.

The Fifth Resource, an industrial engineering and project management company in Santa Rosa, is designing Natural Comfort's new space and helping with needed city permits.

For details on Natural Comfort, call 415-382-8229 or visit www.thenaturalcomfort.com.