By Ali Lucia

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This week, our Minnesotan to Meet may be the most famous pitchman on local TV. You can’t miss his ads or infomercials. That person is Mike Lindell, the creator and founder of Minnesota-based company MyPillow.

Lindell has seen his fair share of ups and downs: From a college drop-out, to bartender turned owner, to even a carpet cleaner, he’s done a lot of different jobs. As you will see, he never thought a combination of sewing and sleep would lead him to the title of CEO.

No matter what the obstacle, Lindell always seems to bounce back — and his enthusiasm is infectious.

“I want every pillow shipped out the day we get the order,” Lindell said. “Have you ever seen that old episode with Lucille Ball, where the stuff came out the end and she can’t keep up with the pies or chocolates or whatever they were? That’s what I want.”

The year 2015 was a good one for Lindell. With the holiday stuffing behind him, last year Lindell’s team averaged right around 10,000 pillows a day from his Shakopee-based distribution center.

“When I was back in a little garage in Carver, to imagine all of this is surreal,” Lindell said.

What began as a dream has turned into a multi-million dollar operation.

“I was turned down everywhere. Then I did a little kiosk in Eden Prairie Center and it wasn’t successful. I had to mortgage my house to buy Christmas presents. Then a guy called …. saying this pillow change my life and I run the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show and I’d like to put you in the show,” Lindell said.

Prior to the show, Lindell realized he was selling the pillow cheaper than his production cost, so he upped the price. And his experience inspired those infomercials that have turned him into a real-life celebrity.

The first infomercial taping caused sales to skyrocket in 2012.

“It was a real infomercial. A friend, myself and a real audience and we just did it like me talking to you at a show,” Lindell said.

That’s when he begrudgingly accepted the title of CEO and has certainly seen his fair share of highs and lows, professionally and personally.

A former crack addict, Lindell quit cold turkey on Jan. 16, 2009.

“I knew if I waited one day longer I wouldn’t be able to have amazing things happen in my life,” Lindell said.

Seven years sober, while the patented pillow maker may be sleeping soundly, his mind never shuts off.

“I view every … show, whether it’s in southern Minnesota or anywhere else, as it’s my only business because that’s where I came from,” Lindell said.

There are roughly 650 MyPillow employees, which includes the 250 who help with the call center. They spend roughly $40 million on advertising a year.

Lindell says all of his children lend a hand in the business in some capacity. One son works in shipping, the other goes on the road to the trade shows. His oldest daughter helped in a lot of the graphic design for company’s logo and his youngest daughter is still in college, but helps when she can.

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