published Friday, August 30th, 2013

Shaw Industries to build plant, add 500 employees

Rolls of carpet made by Shaw Industries line the warehouse of Carpets of Dalton in this file photo.
Rolls of carpet made by Shaw Industries line the warehouse of Carpets of Dalton in this file photo.
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Shaw Industries is vacuuming up talent in North Georgia for a new plant that will churn out carpet tile across the U.S., the company announced today.

The Dalton, Ga.-based business, which is owned by Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett, will spend $85 million and create 500 new jobs at a new plant in Adairsville designed to meet growing demand for Shaw's soft wares. It will be the seventh facility for Shaw in Bartow County, where it is already the biggest employer.

"I think our business has turned," said Vance Bell, CEO of Shaw. "Carpet tile today is well over 50 percent of our commercial carpet mix and continues to grow, and it's just received a very good audience in the commercial marketplace."

Shaw and other carpet makers have been hiring talent throughout Northwest Georgia in recent weeks, and the carpet maker is joining a handful of competitors who plan to expand or have already expanded capacity this summer. Analysts say overall demand for carpet has increased in the high single digits -- enough to push existing plants to capacity and create a need for new ones.

"We're pretty close to maxed out," Bell said. "The new facility will take a couple years to complete, so we want to have the capacity available when we need it."

Shaw and other manufacturers shuttered plants and laid off workers during the recession, phasing out many of their old-style spun and stapled yarn plants in favor of polyester filament yarn, which is more popular with customers. Though production is still far from its 2006 levels, Shaw has hired more than 2,000 workers this year, including several hundred newly-created positions.

Shaw is also putting the finishing touches on a plant in China that will serve the Asian market. As companies in Asia compete for labor and customers, they are eager to upgrade their facilities to keep up with the rising standards of the middle-class. But for now, Bartow County, Ga. is where the action is.

The new 700,000-square-foot facility, when complete in more than two years, will include warehouse and distribution space, and will be built on 117.6 acres near Highway 140 and Hall Station Road. Shaw selected the site because it has plenty of land, a diverse talent pool and easy access to transportation hubs, said Chuck Dobbins, Shaw's director of corporate assets.

"We have a long history in Bartow County," he said.

Shaw, which boasts $4 billion in annual sales and already employs 23,000 workers, will partner with the state to train workers. About 15,000 of Shaw's workers -- about three-fifths -- already work at its Georgia operations, making it one of the state's top employers, said Chris Cummiskey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

"We couldn't be more pleased to see this aggressive growth from one of Georgia's top corporate citizens," Cummiskey said. "Shaw has played an important part in establishing Georgia as a global leader in the floor covering industry."

Though it's too early to divulge specifics, Bell hinted that if the economic recovery remains strong the flooring giant may announce additional expansions in the near future.

"Obviously, business is better today," Bell said. "I would expect some more announcements."

Shaw may not be the only one with upcoming announcements. A global economic comeback will help all manufacturers, said Gov. Nathan Deal.

"The steady comeback of the floor covering industry in North Georgia continues to reflect the resurgence of the global economy," Deal said. "Companies such as Shaw Industries are moving aggressively to meet demand, and Georgia stands ready to equip them with the trained workforce and infrastructure network they need."

Contact Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfreepress.com or 757-6315

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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