These threads are used to match true colors of thread used in carpet to the colors used on the paper samples made by Tricycle. One of Chattanooga's greener businesses, Tricycle produces carpet samples on paper, which is better for budgets and the environment. The company's printouts are recyclable and do not consume any oil in their production, unlike the carpet squares previously used by interior decorators.
Technology will continue to enable innovation in the flooring industry, and Shaw is committed to leading the way.
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Shaw Industries CEO Vance Bell poses for a portrait Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, at their headquarters in Dalton, Ga.

The biggest carpet maker in Dalton, Ga., is buying the industry's leading supplier of digital carpet samples for the commercial market to help carpet retailers and interior designers save money and limit carpet wastes.

Shaw Industries Group Inc. on Thursday purchased Tricycle Inc., the Chattanooga-based provider of digital carpet samples and floorcovering tools.

Shaw, the world's second biggest floorcovering company owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said the acquisition will enable Shaw's commercial business to lead the industry in carpet sampling simulation and digital tools.

Founded in 2004 in Chattanooga, Tricycle helped revolutionize the presentation of how carpet and other floorcoverings will look and fit in commercial interiors by helping interior designers and architects visualize and sample carpet designs and colors in a digital format. The unique method of showcasing different carpet options, which was developed from Tricycle's own software design, reduces the need for as many physical carpet samples to display the many variations of carpets, rugs and other floorcoverings.

"Technology will continue to enable innovation in the flooring industry, and Shaw is committed to leading the way," Vance Bell, Shaw chairman and CEO, said in an announcement of the purchase. "This acquisition is just the beginning of what will be our company's long-term investment in Tricycle's people and technology."

Tricycle will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary and operate independently, serving Shaw and others in the commercial flooring industry. The 18-employee company will continue to be led by Aern Hetem, the company's CEO for the past six years who has helped grow Tricycle revenues by more than 10 percent each year since he succeeded founding CEO Jonathan Bragdon. Tricycle will continue to operate its 15-employee headquarters and production facility in Chattanooga at 1293 Riverfront Parkway in Chattanooga, in addition to its three-employee office in the United Kingdom.

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Tricycle Inc. is a Chattanooga-based provider of digital carpet samples and floorcovering tools.
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Shaw Industries trucks are shown in this file photo.

Terms of the purchase were not disclosed by Shaw or by Tricycle, which was previously owned primarily by its original investors.

Tricyle was founded by two Brits and two Americans. The founders include Bragdon, who is now a partner in the Chattanooga technology company known as Very; Michael Hendrix, who now leads the Boston studio for global design company Ideo; Jamie Harrison, an entrepreneur who was the first CEO of Tricycle, and Andy Shipman, who was the first chief technology officer.

"We are going to continue with what we have been doing, serving the entire carpet industry as an independent company," Hetem said. "We've been successful in growing the business steadily and we see a lot of room for future growth. We've been able to expand our technology outward and apply our simulation technology in more fields than simply making carpet samples."

In the past, carpet manufacturers had to physically produce a carpet for a potential buyer to either see a carpet sample or high-image photograph. But Tricycle developed a computer model that mimicked the manufacturing process to model carpet in a very realistic way without requiring that the carpet be physically produced.

Tricycle's TRY simulated flooring samples revolutionized the industry by providing manufacturers and designers with three- dimensional, color-correct digital images that replace actual samples during the early phases of design, saving time, money, and waste.

The carpet tools developed by Tricycles simulate carpet samples in a digital form and also visualize luxury vinyl tiles and other hard surfaces.

Tricycle's award-winning technology has led the floorcovering industry in simulated carpet sampling, innovative digital tools, and the expertise to automate the manufacturing process. Tricycle's design has been recognized with a range of honors from the first- ever Gold IDEA award in Eco-Design from Business Week magazine and the Industrial Designers Society of America to a Green Apple award for environmental best practices in Great Britain's Parliament.

"We are very excited to join Shaw, a company known for award-winning design, quality, service, innovation, and sustainability," Hetem said. "These qualities align well with the Tricycle core values of innovation, quality, responsiveness, problem solving, and sustainability."

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 423-757-6340.

This story was updated Oct. 11 at 11:59 p.m. with more information.