Dalton, Ga.-based Shaw Industries eyes next 50 years

Staff photo by Mike Pare / Shaw Industries employees took part in a day-long celebration of the company's 50th year.
Staff photo by Mike Pare / Shaw Industries employees took part in a day-long celebration of the company's 50th year.


* 1967 - A holding company is formed to acquire Philadelphia Carpet Co. The holding company adds Star Finishing, which evolved out of Star Dye, to the fold one year later.* 1971 - Philadelphia Holding goes public as Shaw Industries Inc.* 1972 - Shaw Industries takes the first step toward vertical integration by acquiring New Found Industries to generate its own yarn supply.* 1982: Shaw creates its a trucking subsidiary, improving the quality and speed of shipments to retailers nationwide.* 1987 - Shaw purchases WestPoint-Pepperell carpet and rug division, acquiring the Cabin Crafts and Stratton brands and adding 40 percent to the company’s sales volume.* 1998 - Company merges with Queen Carpets.* 2000 - Shaw OKs proposed acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.* 2002 - Shaw opens a laminate manufacturing facility, it’s first step into the manufacturing of hard surface flooring.* 2006 - Vance Bell named Shaw’s CEO and Randy Merritt is named president. Shaw announces plans to convert a former yarn plant in South Pittsburg, Tenn., into a manufacturing facility for engineered hardwood.* 2013 - Shaw opens a plant in Nantong, China, its first manufacturing facility in Asia.* 2016 - Company begins carpet tile manufacturing operations at Adairsville, Ga., plant, Shaw’s first greenfield facility since 1997. Also, Shaw acquires US Floors.Source: Shaw Industries Group

photo Staff photo by Mike Pare / Gus Jacobo, a Shaw Industries employee, looks over a display where company workers can share their experiences as the company marks 50 years.
photo Staff photo by Mike Pare / Gus Jacobo, a Shaw Industries employee, looks over a display where company workers can share their experiences as the company marks 50 years.
photo Shaw Industries CEO Vance Bell poses for a portrait Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, at their headquarters in Dalton, Ga.
photo Shaw Industries employees work in the company's hardwood flooring plant in South Pittsburg, Tenn.

DALTON, Ga. - Shaw Industries on Friday marked 50 years that saw the building of one of the world's biggest flooring companies, but its chief talked a lot about innovation and change for the future.

"Technology, the Internet, equipment technology and automation will change everything we do and every job we have," said Shaw CEO Vance Bell. "We must be open to that change."

Bell, who spoke at the Dalton Trade Center to a large group of employees, said that 50 years is "a great cause of celebration."

But, he said, he hopes that virtually everything the company is doing has been changed, re-thought, re-engineered, and reorganized within five years.

"If we haven't, we may be far behind," said Bell about the company that had about $5 billion in revenues last year. "The world is forcing change on you. You have to be proactive and change with it."

The Dalton-based company, founded in 1967 and now employing more than 20,000 people, has positively impacted the lives of millions of people over the years, said Bell.

To continue to do so, however, Shaw must grow, change, innovate and "take what's positive and strong about the our history and culture and rapidly adapt it to a world in which change is accelerating all around us, exponentially," he said.

Up to 6,000 employees were expected to mark the day at the Trade Center taking part in a variety of activities. A retrospective of Shaw's history told through personal stories of employees was on display. Shaw leaders made presentations about factors needed for the company's future.

Tim Baucom, Shaw's executive vice president for its residential division, said it's important to take time to celebrate such a milestone.

"But we don't run a museum," he said. "We run a business. How do we use that to inspire us to go to the next level? We want this to be 10 percent looking back, 90 percent looking forward."

Bell, who joined the company in 1975 and became CEO in 2006 after founder Bob Shaw retired, cited three foundational pillars - people, innovation and parent Berkshire Hathaway.

"We have great people. We stay focused on the customer and expect excellence in everything we do," he said. "To succeed in the future, we have to evolve our culture and the way that we work. We have to keep this foundation but energize it for the future."

Also, Bell said, the company must rethink its products and how it makes, services and delivers them.

In addition, being part of renowned investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway allows Shaw long-term security, said the CEO.

"We're part of one of the strongest and most unique corporations in business history," he said. "We can make large investments every year no matter the economy and take a long-term view."

In an interview after his address, Bell said 2017 is shaping up to be "a pretty good year" for the company.

"Sales are on plan," he said. "There's some cost inflation in raw materials. We're dealing with that."

Bell said Shaw's business is driven in large part by housing, and new construction is strong.

The rise in the stock market since the presidential election has given people a sense of more wealth, he said. More importantly, Bell said, consumer confidence is much higher.

"If there's business confidence and consumer confidence, businesses will invest and expand and it allows consumers to feel good about purchasing, he said.

Stacey Nicholson, a 27-year employee at Shaw, said the company has grown and changed over that period of time.

"I've had a lot of opportunity to advance," said the service desk manager. "I've met a lot of great people along the way."

Gus Jacobo of Dalton, a three-year Shaw employee, said he liked the Trade Center gathering because it gave employees the chance for them to come together to celebrate.

"It's an awesome opportunity," he said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

Upcoming Events