Minehan wins top Manufacturers honor
Bill Minehan, the general manager of AdTech Ceramics in Chattanooga, received the Tennessee Association of Manufacturers’ highest individual honor Wednesday at the group’s annual meeting.
Minehan, who has headed the custom ceramics maker in Chattanooga since 2004, received the C.D. Mitchell Award named after the Civil War captain from Dunlap, Iowa, who helped start the Chattanooga Manufacturers Association in 1902.
Engineered Floors, the Dalton, Ga.-based carpet maker, will soon have the second largest building in Georgia when it's finished expanding a plant to 2 million square feet, an official said Wednesday.
Only the World Congress Center in Atlanta will be larger, said James Lesslie, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the company founded six years ago by carpet manufacturing pioneer Bob Shaw.
Lesslie, who spoke at the Tennessee Association of Manufacturers' annual meeting, said the company has gone from 500 to 3,000 employees since it was created.
"We're the third largest [carpet company] in North America," he said in an interview. "That's a lot of growth."
About 90 percent of its growth has been "organic," he said, with its only acquisition being J&J Industries, a 60-year-old company that specializes in commercial carpet, earlier this year.
Engineered Floors has four plants, including the massive facility its expanding in Whitfield County, Lesslie said. It will be the largest carpet plant in the world, he said.
"American manufacturing is not dead," the carpet executive said. "As long as you have an innovative process, think through a strategy and come up with innovative solutions to problems, you're always going to have a customer that wants to buy your product."
Tim Spires, the association's chief executive, said Engineered Floors "has something we all can learn in Tennessee as manufacturers."
Spires said "there's no gate at the [Tennessee-Georgia] border when it comes to manpower."
Lesslie said that while the carpet industry overall is flat to down slightly so far this year, Engineered Floors revenue is up. He declined to say by how much or give revenue numbers. But industry sources put the company's expected annual revenue at about $800 million.
While Engineered Floors in the past had been a residential carpet maker, its acquisition of J&J will give it entry into the commercial end of the business, Lesslie said.
He said that Shaw, who started Shaw Industries decades ago and then sold it before starting Engineered Floors, is still an active chief executive at age 85. Shaw has more than 60 years in the business.
Lesslie said he worked for Shaw in the 1990s before joining him in 2010.
"He walks a little slower but he coaches with the same veracity," he said. "He has high expectations, kind of like [Alabama football coach] Nick Saban. But he sets fair expectations and he expects the company to go after them.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.