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The world's biggest carpet maker will shut down one of its oldest residential carpet mills in Dalton, Georgia, by May, cutting 275 jobs.

Shaw Industries Group Inc. said it will shift production capacity from Plant 23 in Dalton, which produces residential carpet, to other more efficient Shaw facilities in northwest Georgia. Shaw has operated the half-century-old plant on Abutement Road since it bought the former Armstrong carpet facility in the 1980s as part of its acquisition of Evans & Black.

Mark Hartline, vice president of human resources at Shaw, said the company has begun shifting workers to other plants where jobs are available. All operations at Plant 23 should cease by the end of May as Shaw trims some of its production of residential carpet in response to the decline in market sales last year.

Shaw, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, also reduced its executive staff last year, phasing out nearly 100 jobs in Dalton, in response to the drop in carpet sales and rise in hard surface flooring.

"We identified opportunities across the enterprise to strategically align resources and assets with where our business is heading in the future," Mike Fromm, chief human resources officer at Shaw, said last year.

The job cuts are only a tiny fraction of Shaw's overall 22,000 person workforce around the globe. Shaw operates more than 65 facilities throughout Northwest Georgia, including manufacturing and distribution facilities.

Despite the plant closing, Shaw has invested more than $1.5 billion throughout the United States over the past five years.

Shaw and other carpet makers are responding to a decline in carpet shipments, which fell by 7% in unit volume and 4% in revenues last year, according to the trade publication Floor Focus magazine.

"Those buying carpet, while buying less, are buying better with more texture and styling," said Kemp Harr, publisher of Floor Focus.

Shaw is the world's largest carpet producer with more than $6 billion in sales. Plant 23 was focused on the lower end of its carpet market from a price point perspective.

"As the consolidation process begins, Shaw's human resources team will assist them with internal job opportunities and one-on-one consultations with Shaw's talent management team," Hartline said in a statement about the plant closing. "Supporting associates during this transition is our highest priority."

Unemployment in metropolitan Dalton declined last year and ended 2019 with a 4.7% rate in December. But Dalton added only a net 300 more jobs from December 2018 to December 2019 and Dalton maintained the highest jobless rate among all 14 metro areas in Georgia last year.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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