Beaulieu of America closes second plant in Dalton

Beaulieu of America closes second plant in Dalton

November 5th, 2011 by Ellis Smith in News

Beaulieu of America announced Friday it will close its Dalton Model Plant on Jan. 2 and lay off 150 more mill workers.

The Dalton, Ga.-based carpet company announced two weeks ago it was closing the adjacent Riverbend plant in Dalton by the end of the year. Combined, the two plant closings will cost Dalton 320 jobs.

The company blamed the latest plant closing on "a continued sluggish economy and reduced carpet demand."

Ralph Boe, CEO of Beaulieu, said he originally planned to close the Riverbend and Model plants together, but the company attempted to hold out for an uptick in demand.

"We kept holding on and holding on, but we had to do something," Boe said.

The closures will allow the company's three remaining tufting mills - one in Eton, Ga., and two in Bridgeport, Ala. - to operate on a more efficient basis, Boe added, as the company pushes into the booming multifamily market.

"This is regrettable but necessary," Boe said.

The company will try to find jobs at other mills for the laid-off employees, he said.

Beaulieu is the nation's third-largest carpetmaker and recently secured $230 million in loan refinancing to help sustain itself.

Beaulieu isn't the only Georgia carpetmaker struggling with low demand in the slack economy.

Since projections for a brighter economy didn't materialize, competitors Mohawk Industries and Shaw Industries have cut hundreds of jobs and mothballed multiple plants in Dalton, Calhoun and Rome just in the second half of 2011.

While the companies often attempt to find jobs for line employees, many of whom followed family members into the industry, overall employment has fallen by the thousands.

One factor has been the dramatic fall in new home starts, which the manufacturers depend on for the majority of carpet demand.

Technological shifts also have led to deep cuts, as carpetmakers retooled some facilities and shut down most of the older, spun yarn plants in favor of plants employing the filament production method.

However, even though unit sales are down, some carpetmakers still are finding ways to grow revenue. Mohawk Industries and the Dixie Group recently reported double-digit revenue growth for the third quarter.

"Though unit sales has fallen, this is the first time we've seen a growth in revenue since '07," said Kemp Harr, publisher of Floor Focus Magazine. "Dixie has done really well on the upper-end residential market, and the commercial market is up about 8 percent."