published Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Beaulieu of America shakes up management and expands operations

Beaulieu of America on Friday shook up its management team, splitting its residential and commercial divisions between a handful of executives.

Ralph Boe, who remains CEO of the Dalton, Ga.-based carpetmaker, will continue to oversee the finances of the third-largest flooring company in the U.S., as well as sales and marketing for Beaulieu's residential carpet division.

Newcomer Karel Vercruyssen will control much of the remainder of the carpetmaker as president and chief operating officer.

"Karel will be overseeing the manufacturing, the biggest component of our business," Boe said. "From an overall company standpoint, I'm still the CEO and Karel is the president, but we've got the four divisions we've set up reporting to him and to me."

Under Boe's former leutenants, Jeff Meadows and James Lesslie, the company's commercial and residential carpet were managed together.

However, the new structure will end that practice.

In addition to separate sales and manufacturing departments within the company's commercial and residential operations, Beaulieu also will add a specialty nonwoven products division to include automotive mats and other non-carpet products.

The company's carpet backing division will also expand beyond carpet to begin producing geotextiles and other new products.

"By separating those things out, we can better define the results we're getting in each of those divisions, and which ones earn a higher share of capital that's available," Boe said.

The changes were made possible by the company's $230 million loan refinancing in October 2011, which gave Beaulieu the cash on hand to close a trio of plants and reconfigure its operations, Boe said. By reducing the company's excess capacity and retooling its operations to offer a product line that will extend beyond carpet, Beaulieu could be better positioned to ride out economic bumps in the future.

Kemp Harr, publisher of Floor Focus magazine, said the changes make sense, given the major differences between the commercial and residential carpet markets.

"The residential market is more commodity oriented, and the commercial market is more design oriented," Harr said. "The design is different, the machines they run on is different, and the commercial uses more [carpet tile products]."

Vercruyssen comes to Beaulieu of America from Beaulieu Canada, where he will continue to serve as CEO in addition to his new duties.

The heads of the company's newly-separated commercial, woven fabrics and specialty fabrics divisions will report to him, and Vercruyssen will also control operations details in Beaulieu's residential division.

Nicolas Bouckaert, son of Beaulieu of America co-founder and former CEO Carl Bouckaert, will report to Vercruyssen as president of the commercial division. Phil Bates will serve as vice-president of the woven fabrics division, and Hans Bakker was announced as the newly-appointed vice president of the specialty fabrics division, according to a news release.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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