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Made in the USA: Domestic production hits its stride

April 24/May 1, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 23

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 2.36.11 PMOn April 18, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to implement the “Buy American, Hire American” rhetoric of his campaign. The executive order came as part of the President’s effort to prod U.S. businesses to invest more money domestically and create jobs for American workers.

If the President was looking for an industry that could serve as the role model for this cause, he might consider the flooring sector. Led by the major manufacturers, the flooring industry has been doing its part to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. and create thousands of new jobs.

Anecdotal research shows by the end of 2017, there will be 13 new LVT, sheet, rigid core and carpet plants completed in the U.S.—a testament to the so-called “reshoring” or onshoring movement—a term used to describe the return of manufacturing to U.S. shores.

Cathy Gundlach, vice president of merchandising for Flooring America/Flooring Canada, International Design Guild and The Floor Trader groups, said there is a lot to like with this trend. “We continue to see manufacturing plant investments and openings into the U.S. marketplace for the production of flooring from our key suppliers, which in turn is growing the assortment of Made in USA goods available to our consumers.”

Industry observers say onshoring is rapidly gathering steam among flooring manufacturers. While full capacity has been slowly ramping up, executives point to 2017 as the year when production really gains a head of steam.

What manufacturers are doing
Shaw has invested significantly in manufacturing capacity with the recent completion of its new LVT facility in Ringgold, Ga.; the opening of a new carpet tile facility in Adairsville, Ga.; the expansion and modernization of an extrusion facility in Columbia, S.C., and the expansion of its hardwood manufacturing facility in South Pittsburg, Tenn. “In 2017, we’ll truly begin to see the benefit of those investments with each entering a full year of operation,” said Randy Merritt, president. “That gives us even greater ability to meet customers’ quality and service needs with a diverse portfolio of products.” In addition, by the end of 2017, Shaw will have completed its 67,000-square-foot Create Centre in Cartersville, Ga., which will house the commercial division’s marketing and design teams.

Mannington, which launched its “Let’s Make Some Noise” campaign promoting domestic manufacturing back in 2011, now has its production tentacles spread throughout the U.S. The company manufactures all residential and commercial sheet vinyl as well as VCT in Salem, N.J.; all laminate in High Point, N.C.; all carpet in Calhoun, Ga.; all rubber in San Jose, Calif., and Eustis, Fla.; more than 80% of hardwood in Epes, Ala., and High Point, N.C.; and most LVT in Madison, Ga.

Not to be overlooked, Armstrong continues to support U.S. manufacturing. Alterna, its highly successful engineered stone, is produced in Kankakee, Ill. This is in addition to the LVT plant it added in Lancaster, where the company repurposed an unused building and outfitted it with state-of-the-art equipment to manufacture Vivero luxury flooring and Natural Creations with Diamond 10 technology.

Mohawk operates domestic manufacturing facilities for every category of product—including carpet, hardwood, laminate, ceramic and resilient—and has a footprint that stretches from coast to coast. It recently expanded its plant in Melbourne, Ark., to be the only one in the country capable of producing both solid and engineered prefinished hardwood flooring with larger dimensions and more characteristic styling. Meanwhile, Mohawk’s divisions are making big news with new production facilities popping up all over. IVC’s Moduleo LVT collection is U.S. made. Dal-Tile’s plant in Dickson, Tenn., has reached full production and is making color-body porcelain that will boost capacity and technical capabilities.

Other tile companies such as Crossville and Florida Tile are growing their U.S. production roots. The latter’s manufacturing plant, distribution center, corporate offices and showrooms are all located in the U.S. Florida Tile has joined over 180 other domestic building product manufacturers in the “We Build American” initiative.

Mullican recently announced plans to bring full production of all sawn engineered products to the U.S. beginning early summer 2017. Plans to transition additional overseas production to the U.S. will be announced in Q3. “Since 2012 we have converted much of our engineered hardwood production from imported to domestically manufactured product,” said Neil Poland, president, Mullican Flooring. “The transition of our sawn lines to the U.S. is a natural extension of that movement.”