AstroTurf, one of the most famous names in all of sports — high school, collegiate and professional — calls Dalton, Georgia home, and has since 1968.
In the mid-1960s, AstroTurf invented the artificial turf segment for athletic field coverings. In 1966, AstroTurf was installed at the "Eight Wonder of the World," the multi-use Astrodome in Houston, Texas for use during Houston Astros and Houston Oilers professional baseball and football games, respectively.
Over the years, AstroTurf has racked up a list of clients that reads like a who's-who of big-name sports: the St. Louis Rams, the Kansas State Wildcats, the Orlando Citrus Bowl, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Toronto Blue Jays.
The United States women's national soccer team practices on AstroTurf, which led to the World Cup champion women playing an exhibition game at Chattanooga's Finley Stadium — equipped with AstroTurf — in August.
Thanks to the star power of its brand and its obsession with quality, AstroTurf has come to own roughly 70 percent of market share in the artificial turf segment.
Forty-seven years after opening its Dalton plant, AstroTurf is still the go-to name for turf.
In September, when players complained about the state of the natural grass field at Houston, Texas' Reliant Stadium — home of the NFL team Houston Texans — team officials turned to AstroTurf to come with a quick, reliable solution mid-season.
And now, the Texans, the the Oilers teams that preceded them, play on an AstroTurf artificial surface.
The major difference made by the time gap, though, is that AstroTurf has turned the corner from the old, rough knitted surfaces it produced 40 years ago. Though knitted fields are still available, many teams and facilities now play on AstroTurf's state-of-the-art, hyper-realistic turf that from a distance, is easily mistakable for natural grass.
Innovations in production and research have allowed AstroTurf to make cooler, softer surfaces than ever before. Varying widths, lengths and even colors of turf can be tufted into surfaces to create the appearance of organic growth and even the look of a mowed field.
But AstroTurf engineers aren't content. They say they're always striving to make a better product, a cooler surface. And going forward, the Dalton-based manufacturer looks to continue to own its industry.
Textile Management Associates Inc., a 38-year old, family owned commercial carpet and sports turf manufacturer based in Dalton, acquired the Astroturf product line from SRI Sports in 2004.