Houston Hero ‘Mattress Mack’ Shares Motivational Quotes That Inspired Him To Dream Big
Houston Philanthropist Mattress Mack
On a recent episode of her television show, Ellen DeGeneres called Jim McIngvale “The Definition of an American Hero”.
The title fits.
McIngvale, known in Houston as “Mattress Mack”, is a popular business leader whose generosity knows no bounds. During Hurricane Harvey and February’s ice storm that turned off electricity for millions of people, Mack opened the doors to its huge 160,000-square-foot furniture stores. He greeted anyone who needed shelter or a hot meal.
Over three weeks after the Houston hurricane in 2017, Mack and his team at Gallery Furniture provided 80,000 people with shelter, supplies, and groceries. He later chartered a 737 to fly first responders to the sixth game of the World Series between the Houston Astros and LA Dodgers.
I’ve known Mack for a few years after he invited me to Houston to offer language coaching. I didn’t know he was going to be the coach – a motivating one.
Mack is a walking quote machine. It’s almost impossible to take a picture with Mack in his furniture stores without seeing a motivational quote in the background.
I met Mack this week and asked him to share some of his most famous “MACKisms”.
“The essence of life is giving.”
“This quote is from Pope John Paul II, and my parents instilled it in me,” said Mack.
“My father was a giver. He gave all his life. It left a tremendous impact on me, my siblings and his grandchildren. He died without much money because he gave everything away. But he died happy and lived a rich and fulfilled life because of giving to other people. “
“The American West was not populated by men and women taking a pioneering course. Sometimes you just have to do it. “
“The pioneers didn’t have a manual,” says Mack.
“When the floods rise, or the hurricane hits, or the ice storm cuts off electricity for two million people, it is time for us to take action. We may not have a manual, but sometimes you have to be innovative. otherwise you will evaporate. “
“It is our obligation to take care of the last, the least and the lost in our society.”
Mack gave this answer to a reporter who asked why he opened his doors to the community. Mack says the quote was inspired by the saying, “Those who are given much, those who are expected a lot.”
Mack says entrepreneurs should always remember those they owe for their success. Mack and his wife Linda started Gallery Furniture 40 years ago. All they had was a dream, a pickup truck, and a few thousand dollars in savings.
“The church helped us start this $ 5,000 business in 1981,” he recalls. “And a lot is expected of us. We will continue to be there for them because by helping people, we are helping ourselves. “
“Are you wondering, would the customer miss us if we went out of business tomorrow?”
According to Mack, long-lived businesses mean more to their customers than the products they sell.
In September 2020, the pandemic had left millions of people unemployed. Others needed help with childcare. Mack wondered how he could contribute to the community to make lasting change. The answer had nothing to do with selling furniture.
Mack opened a free preschool, a high school for those ages 16-20 who hadn’t graduated from high school, and a business school where students learn plumbing, electronics, construction, cooking, and auto mechanics. Today, up to 60 children are cared for per day in the preschool, while around 700 people are enrolled in high schools and commercial schools.
“Life is not about failure. Life is about how you react to adversity. ”
Many of the quotes hanging in Mack’s stores are about overcoming adversity:
“When the going gets tough, the going gets tough.”
“Overcome everything negative with a positive.”
“What doesn’t destroy me just serves to make me stronger.”
When the nation went into lockdown on March 15 to slow the spread of the coronavirus, it disrupted supply chains for every retailer, including Gallery Furniture. Mack had two options: delaying deliveries or finding a way to keep customers happy. He decided to innovate. “We found a way to do this,” says Mack proudly.
“Adversity is life’s greatest teacher. Welcome adversity, don’t run away. “
“Capitalism works, but it has an obligation to give back and make the community a better place.”
Mack believes that “work is life’s greatest therapy” and wants others to learn the skills they need to experience the joy of success. It is the mindset that inspired him to start a business school – free to the people in the local community.
“Our goal is to make the community better,” he says.
Mack’s classes had an impact on his children. His daughter Laura adopted a child through the care system. When her dog Chester won first place in the toy group at the National Dog Show, Laura was asked what Chester will do when he retires. She said she plans to have Chester foster children visit “to brighten her life”.
For the McIngvales, giving back to the community is a family business.