Larry Kilgo, left, and Walt Turner work on a coating machine at the Engineered Floors carpet manufacturing plant near Calhoun, Ga.

Carpet titan Bob Shaw surprised the flooring industry Tuesday when his company, Engineered Floors, announced its intention to build a fourth factory in northwest Georgia and begin producing carpet tile for the first time.

A news release said Dalton-based Engineered Floors — a leader in carpet industry growth — is finalizing site selection for the new facility, which will be "on the same scale and magnitude as the other Engineered Floors production facilities in the area."

Engineered Floors has two existing facilities and is building out a 2.4 million-square-foot facility in Carbondale, Ga., that Shaw says may be the largest single carpet manufacturing building in the world when it's finished.

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Bob Shaw, former head of Shaw Industries, came out of retirement and is chairman of Engineered Floors.

Engineered Floors has invested nearly $500 million on its facilities and employs around 2,000 people.

But company officials said Tuesday afternoon they couldn't divulge any additional information about the proposed new factory.

In Tuesday's news release, Shaw said the company's existing PureColor fiber system — in which carpet fibers are thoroughly dyed prior to carpet construction — "will be the backbone of what we believe will be a superior carpet tile product."

Shaw is a pioneer in the carpet world, having built Shaw Industries into the largest carpet manufacturer in the world before retiring in 2005 and selling the company to Warren Buffett.

In 2009, Shaw came out of retirement and founded Engineered Floors.

Until now, Engineered Floors has focused on manufacturing residential-grade, broadloom carpets.

Carpet tile is a popular commercial carpet option, being hardier and easier to replace, and will represent a major addition to Engineered Floors' production portfolio.

Tuesday's announcement also marks Engineered Floors first entry into commercial production.

"This adds a new dimension to Bob's growth strategy," said Kemp Harr, editor of Floor Focus magazine, on Tuesday. "Several people in the business will be surprised to hear this."

Harr said modular carpet, or carpet tile, represents a roughly $1 billion market segment.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at or 423-757-6480.