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Made in the USA: Did you know?

April 27/May 4, 2015; Volume 29/Number 2

The history of Made in the USA flooring dates to the 19th century, with deep roots in U.S. soil:

  • By 1850, a government survey found there were 116 mills producing 8 million square yards of carpets and rugs (employing more than 6,000 workers) in the U.S. Twenty years later, U.S. carpet mills numbered 215, wove more than 20 million square yards and employed 12,000 people.
  • Armstrong founder Tom Armstrong began his career—and his company— in a two-man cork-cutting shop in 1860 in Pittsburgh. His first deliveries of hand-carved corks were made via wheelbarrow.
  • There was a time when New England—not Dalton—was the carpet capital of the world. In 1878, the year four brothers in the Shuttleworth family created what would become Mohawk, New England boasted a large number of textile mills. That year the Shuttleworth family shipped 14 used Wilton looms from Great Britain to Amsterdam, N.Y., and launched their own carpet mill.
  • In 1926, American inventor Dr. Waldo Semon was trying to bond rubber to metal. He tried using the vinyl chloride mixture with other chemicals; his first attempts resulted in wisps of gas and an occasional explosion. Eventually he created what we now call PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or vinyl. It was first used in shock absorbers, and it later helped in developing synthetic tires. Used to insulate wires during World War II, it became popular as a floor covering after the war.
  • Flooring has been used in the vernacular of some famous sayings. For example, Benjamin Franklin reportedly coined “snug as a bug in a rug” in 1772 when he used it in a letter to mean “the utmost contentment.”
  • The term “carpetbagger” comes from a time after the Civil War when some greedy northerners packed up their belongings in luggage made from carpet and moved south. They became known as “carpetbaggers.”
  • Mannington Mills, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary at the end of 2015, has adopted “Made Right Here” as one of its mottos. And for good reason: Mannington manufactures its flooring products in six states.
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Iconic brands still Made in the USA

April 27/May 4, 2015; Volume 29/Number 2

By Ken Ryan

Bringing manufacturing back home has been one of the biggest trends in the Made in the USA comeback story. But some brands never left America’s shores. Here are 10 of the most recognizable brands that are still made in the U.S.

 Company: 3M

Product: Post-it Notes

Made in: Minneapolis

Invented by 3M employee Art Fry in 1974, the Post-it Note first hit stores as “Press ‘n Peel” in 1977 before getting its trademark name in 1980. Though knockoff versions have been produced since 3M’s patent expired in the 1990s, Post-it Notes are still made at a plant in Cynthiana, Ky., and 3M still calls Minnesota home.

 

Company: Steinway & Sons

Product: Pianos

Made in: New York

Steinway’s grand pianos have been mass manufactured by hand in New York since 1853 but came to life in 1836 when cabinetmaker Heinrich Engelhard Steinway built the first in his kitchen in Germany. He built nearly 500 in the next decade and in 1850 used the proceeds to move his family to the U.S. In 1853, his family changed its name to Steinway, founded Steinway & Sons in a Manhattan loft on Varick Street and remained in the city ever since.

 

Company: Louisville Slugger

Product: Baseball bats

Made in: Louisville, Ky.

Today Louisville Slugger employs 155 people at its 100,000-square-foot factory in Louisville. The company has survived fires and floods to remain one of the most popular suppliers of baseball bats. Of the 1 million bats it produces a year, 60,000 go to pro ballplayers.

 

Company: Gibson Guitar

Product: Guitars

Made in: Nashville

Orville Gibson started the company that would produce the genre’s signature item, the electric guitar. Gibson launched Gibson Guitar in 1896 in Kalamazoo, Mich., which released its first electric guitar in 1936. After the original Kalamazoo plant closed in 1984, the headquarters of Gibson moved to Nashville. Gibson makes 2,500 guitars a week at its Gibson USA plant and employs 500 workers who help to hand craft each guitar.

 

Company: Poof-Slinky

Product: Slinky

Made in: Hollidaysburg, Pa.

The toy was first launched at Gimbel’s department store in Philadelphia in 1945. The makers were unsure of how the toy would sell, but the first 400 sold out within 90 minutes and the rest is history. More than 300 million Slinky toys have been sold since its introduction in 1945. In 1966 Slinky moved its production to Hollidaysburg, Pa., where the toys are still made.

 

Company: Hershey

Product: Candy

Made in: Hershey, Pa.

Around the turn of the 20th century, Milton Hershey began experimenting with candy manufacturing. After two unsuccessful business ventures, he found success with Lancaster Caramel, but Hershey’s true interest was chocolate; he sold his caramel company in 1900 for $1 million and manufactured the first Hershey’s chocolate bar soon after. Today the company makes candy in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Illinois. The main facility and headquarters remains in Hershey, Pa., a.k.a. the “Sweetest Place on Earth.”

 

Company: Wiffle Ball

Product: Wiffle balls

Made in: Shelton, Conn.

It may not be considered the national pastime, but since the early 1950s wiffle ball has been an American staple. Started in 1953 by David N. Mullany, Wiffle Ball has changed very little since it released its original products. In fact, the Wiffle Ball bat and ball still have the same dimensions as when they were first sold, with the same artwork on the box. Today the company still manufactures its products in Shelton, Conn.; it remains a family-run company with just 12 full-time employees.

 

Company: Wilson

Product: Footballs

Made in: Ada, Ohio

Since 1955 Wilson has made every football used professionally, including those used in the Super Bowls, at its Ada factory. Today the small town, located 80 miles from Columbus, Ohio, produces 4,000 footballs a day and 700,000 a year. It remains the only dedicated football factory in the world, employing 120 full-time workers averaging 23 years of work experience.

 

Company: Crayola

Product: Crayons

Made in: Easton, Pa.

When Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith won a gold medal at the 1900 World’s Fair for a dustless chalk product, they were simply responding to the needs of local teachers. It wasn’t until three years later that they would create their iconic product: a set of safe and affordable wax crayons. Crayola has not moved far from its original production center in Pennsylvania. Since 1969 the company has manufactured its popular crayons at its Easton and Bethlehem, Pa., factories. The Easton factory has produced over 1 billion crayons.

 

Company: Harley-Davidson

Product: Motorcycles

Made in: Milwaukee, Wis.

For the past century, the Harley-Davidson name has been linked to motorcycles. Started in 1903 by two sets of brothers, the Harley-Davidson company grew out of a wooden shed in Milwaukee, where childhood friends Arthur Davidson and William S. Harley began to experiment with a combustion engine that would fit into a bicycle. The company sold its first motorcycle in 1903. Today Harley-Davidson headquarters is still in Milwaukee.

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Major mills boost employment

April 27/May 4, 2015; Volume 29/Number 2

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 4.37.38 PMResearch has shown that many Americans buy Made in the USA products because they want to support American workers, and in the process keep manufacturing jobs from being outsourced. The flooring industry has done more than its fair share to expand the job market.

Mohawk Industries is just one flooring manufacturer that has demonstrated one of the most-valued components of American-made manufacturing: Making a significant investment in both local and national economies over the years has substantially contributed to U.S. job growth. In fact, the Atlanta Business Chronicle recognized Mohawk for adding the most jobs in Georgia during 2013, going from 25,100 at the end of 2012 to 32,100 at the end of the next year.

Shaw Industries is in the process of expanding manufacturing operations in the U.S. across a wide variety of product categories including resilient, hardwood and carpet. “Many of those expansions will be complete this year, and once all are fully operational, we’ll have created approximately 1,000 new jobs,” said Trey Thames, vice president of residential marketing and product management for Shaw.

Engineered Floors drew the attention of Georgia’s governor in 2013 when it announced it would open two new carpet plants that would employ more than 2,000 people in the state’s Northwest region. “As we have added manufacturing facilities since 2009, we have added personnel—starting with just a small handful when we broke ground back then to approaching almost 2,000 in 2015,” said James Lesslie, assistant to the chairman. “And because we are located in Northwest Georgia, we believe we have some of the most experienced and skilled carpet makers in the business on our team.”

Other companies, both big and small, are also doing their part to create jobs in the States. One is MP Global, which has grown to become a substantial employer in Nebraska, creating hundreds of jobs over the past 17 years. Somerset Hardwood currently has five production facilities in the U.S. and employs more than 800 people.

Kronotex USA first opened its current manufacturing facility in Barnwell, S.C., in 2005. Due to the growing popularity of Kronotex USA flooring—and now the American Concepts brand—the company invested $45 million in 2011 to expand the facility, almost doubling the size of its laminate flooring plant. The capacity of this site now makes it one of the largest producers of laminate flooring in America, with 173 employed at the Barnwell plant.

About nine months ago, Armstrong announced an onshoring investment in its Somerset, Ky., engineered plant, where the company manufactures its popular American Scrape hardwood line. “It is great to have an impact on a community like Somerset, where we have added about 80 jobs,” said Joe Bondi, vice president and general manager, North American residential flooring.

In Madison, Ga., where Mannington established a commercial LVT facility, the company has estimated it will create 219 new jobs through its recent plant expansion; more jobs will be generated over the next two years as the site’s growth continues. Meanwhile, the expansion of Mullican’s domestic production has produced an additional 170 jobs in Tennessee.

Dalton, one of the hardest-hit metro areas in the country during the Great Recession, led all mid-South metropolitan cities in the rate of job growth in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The jobless rate in Dalton fell in February 2015 to its lowest level in nearly seven years with the addition of 3,600 jobs, or 5.6% growth in employment, in the past 12 months.

Despite the positive changes, Dalton is still 12,700 jobs behind where it was a decade and a half ago. But thanks to efforts by the flooring industry—which accounts for 80% of the jobs in Dalton—the future continues to grow bright.

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Domestic manufacturing means quality control

April 27/May 4, 2015; Volume 29/Number 2

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 4.35.28 PMWhen flooring executives mull over the benefits of Made in the USA products, having quality control and shorter lead times are at the top of their lists. With domestic manufacturing, companies are able to oversee more aspects of the production process and, therefore, deliver consistent quality.

“We learned the hard way several years ago that it can be very difficult to control quality at production facilities overseas that may not have the same quality and ethical standards we have as an organization,” said Paul Stringer, vice president of marketing at Somerset Hardwood. “You only have to watch the news to understand what I am referring to. We see issues not only in flooring, but drywall, pet food, etc., that is imported into our country due to this lack of control. These risks are just not acceptable to us.”

Having learned its lesson, Somerset implemented its Made in the USA initiative nearly three years ago, which means being 100% committed to manufacturing all of its flooring products in the U.S. “It’s proven to be better for us and our customers,” Stringer said. “For example, sales of our SolidPlus engineered flooring that we manufacture in our new facility in Crossville, Tenn., have increased dramatically over the past two years. Frankly, it’s much more fun to sell products in which you have confidence. Sometimes it’s just that simple.”

Somerset’s efforts are not necessarily unique. In recent years many flooring manufacturers have either onshored production or expanded existing operations here.

Mannington, for example, is undergoing the largest expansion in the company’s history, doubling its footprint and effectively quadrupling its capacity over the last three years.

Mullican Flooring has made a firm commitment to increasing domestic manufacturing and relies more now on its four U.S. production facilities. Since 2012, Mullican has been steadily expanding its U.S. production capabilities to include more domestically manufactured engineered products. The company has introduced four new collections—LincolnShire, HillShire, Ponte Vedra and San Marco—and moved the production of its RidgeCrest collection to the U.S. as well.

“This is significant because today’s consumers are looking for readily available Made in America products,” said Neil Poland, Mullican president.

He explained that various capital upgrades—including the introduction of state-of-the-art equipment and expansions at each manufacturing location—have resulted in increased efficiencies, allowing Mullican to remain competitive in the marketplace despite rising lumber costs. The company’s greater domestic presence has also given Mullican an opportunity to make its high quality products available to the market faster. The end result: Consumers reap benefits beyond the price point, including reduced wait times due to increased inventory levels.

By manufacturing in the U.S., Foss is able to hire hard- working Americans who produce high quality products. “Manufacturing in the U.S. has afforded us the opportunity to attract and retain a highly-skilled and incredibly dedicated workforce,” said Mark Gauthier, director of marketing for Foss. “The ability to retain these remarkable individuals and pass their unique skills and knowledge forward goes a long way in ensuring the quality our customers demand.”

Mohawk produces various categories of flooring—carpet, cushion, hardwood, laminate, ceramic and area rugs—in the U.S. “We take great pride in what we make in our U.S. manufacturing plants and we also believe it’s a great American story,” said David Duncan, senior vice president of marketing and sales operations.

Recently acquired by Mohawk, IVC US has benefited from domestic production because its lead times are much shorter and more stable, according to Bart Rich, senior marketing director of the Dalton-based company. “We have better control over inventory and fluctuations of the market. In terms of quality control, it’s one thing to take someone’s word for it and it’s another to actually see how a product is being made and the care taken to make it, as well as the innovation and technology used during the manufacturing process. For IVC that’s just 15 or 20 feet outside of our front door. Our customers can walk in and see the difference in the care and pride we take in making our products right here in Dalton.”

 

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Five tips to promote Made in the USA

April 27/May 4, 2015; Volume 29/Number 2

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 11.41.47 AMFlooring retailers who want to join the Made in the USA movement to increase sales and burnish their patriotic images can follow these steps, culled from marketing experts and flooring dealers who have made “buy American” part of their mantras.

1. Educate RSAs

A.J. Boyajian, co-owner of A.J. Rose Carpets & Flooring, with three Massachusetts locations, makes sure all of his salespeople know where each of the products in his showrooms is produced “so when people ask for Made in the USA we can point them in the right direction. We have more Made in the USA products today because companies are making more, so there are more available [on the market].”

2. Show signage

Make sure Made in the USA signage is displayed prominently in the showroom on the product samples and displays, and that during the sales process RSAs make customers aware of these products. When a new product is introduced, let customers know where the product was made.

3. Promote Made in the USA

Sounds simple enough. From a business’ website and social media to packaging and promotions, every marketing outlet should highlight the fact that a retailer sells Made in the USA products. It’s important that the American-made message is clear and consistent across every channel. Some retailers use the Uncle Sam image to encourage customers to buy local, or do something as simple as displaying the American flag outside their stores.

4. Give reasons to buy

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 11.41.53 AMDon’t hesitate to tell consumers why buying an American-made product may be better than purchasing one made overseas (which does not mean bashing foreign-made products). Buying American-made products, in theory, keeps friends and neighbors employed and is good for the U.S. economy. Plus, domestically produced flooring does not travel as far from the manufacturing facility to the store shelf, which helps reduce the product’s environmental impact.

 5. Share stories

Share stories about where products are made and who makes them. As a selling point, Jim Mudd, president of Sam Kinnaird’s in Louisville, Ky., can tell his customers that American Scrape from Armstrong was made in Kentucky. And dealers in High Point, N.C., can impress customers looking for laminate flooring by telling them that Mannington’s entire laminate product portfolio is manufactured in that very town.

Even if dealers do not have a business in an area where flooring manufacturing is taking place, they can still talk about the onshoring trend that is helping the U.S. economy and creating jobs.

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Buying American reaches critical mass

April 27/May 4, 2015; Volume 29/Number 2

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 11.39.55 AMA recent study by Consumer Reports found that customers do, in fact, care where products are made. When given a choice between a product made in the U.S. and an identical one made abroad, 78% of Americans would rather buy American—and over 60% said they would spend more for it, the report noted.

Some flooring retailers say that a consumer will usually choose a domestic product over the import if her choice is narrowed down between the two and it doesn’t cost her any more.

Dealers have also reported that they will pay more to have American product in their stores. Kevin Rose, president and owner of Carpetland USA, with three Illinois locations, said he has a “mental awareness” to support American-made products—even if it costs him. “The quality and pride of supporting our American workers rather than foreign is well worth any small cost in my mind. Let’s stand behind the folks that purchase our products.”

Rose recently jettisoned some foreign-made products from his showroom to make room for Made in the USA offerings on the hard surface side. The result? “Our hardwood and laminate business has skyrocketed.”

Beyond the patriotic “proud to be an American” angle, there are sound business reasons why more domestically produced flooring is available today than in years past, and why retailers are creating additional space in their showrooms for these products.

Job creation

It has been said that if every American spent an extra $3.33 on U.S.-made products it would create almost 10,000 new jobs. And according to research, if every builder used just 5% more domestically made products it would create 220,000 jobs. Furthermore, each manufacturing job creates an additional five to eight jobs.

Environment

American manufacturers abide by strict regulations to protect the environment. These guidelines do not exist in most countries that do a fair amount of manufacturing and import their goods into the U.S., in some instances causing pollution and environmental abuse.

Conservation

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 11.37.24 AMCountries that ship their materials overseas to the U.S. are adding toll on petroleum usage and increasing unnecessary emissions in the atmosphere. One often-cited key advantage of domestic production is freight. In order to manufacture red oak from Asia, for example, a company has to ship the raw material from America to Asia, where it’s made into flooring, and then ship it back to the States.

Human rights

Importing countries have few or non-existent regulations/standards for working conditions. By keeping dollars in the U.S., Americans are not supporting these working conditions that may include gratuitously long hours, potential exploitation of children and low wages

Cause marketing

While baby boomers have long been supporters of Made in the USA products, research shows millennials are now joining the movement as well. According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), U.S. millennials are receptive to certain types of cause marketing such as Made in the USA and are willing to purchase items associated with these efforts. According to BCG, “As millennials enter their peak purchasing-power years, it will benefit manufacturers to provide more Made in the USA products, and overtly tout this claim, as this group is likely to be increasingly interested in buying American.”

Recycling dollars

When consumers buy American-made products, the proceeds remain in the U.S. economy. The money spent then pays the workers who directly or indirectly created the product purchased. When those workers spend their money on domestically made products, the dollars continue to be recycled. Americans also pay taxes on wages earned in the U.S., thus the purchases are supporting the national economy and tax base.

The Made in the USA movement is reaching critical mass among consumers. A 2014 consumer survey conducted by SSRS, a Media, Pa.-based market research firm, found that 93% of respondents were “more likely” or “equally likely” to buy American-made products than they were five years ago.

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Made in the USA: Faster lead times, better control

Volume 27/Number 26; April 28/May 5, 2014

By Ken Ryan

One of the major storylines in 2013 and early 2014 was the decision by four major flooring companies to build LVT production facilities on U.S. soil. The benefits Mannington, IVC, Shaw and Mohawk expect to reap from this move include shorter lead times, better quality control, quicker turnaround for sample replenishment and back-order fulfillment.

It comes down to this, according to David Sheehan, vice president of commercial hard surfaces for Mannington: “Those who have the inventory that can serve the customers’ needs get the business. You control your own destiny by having manufacturing here.”

Flooring is not the only industry making this push. According to the Boston Consulting Group, more than half of U.S.-based manufacturing executives at companies with sales of more than $1 billion plan to re-shore production to the U.S. from China—or are actively considering it.

When considering the cost of transportation and logistics along with the quality of the workforce here (productivity improvements due to automation are trimming per-unit labor costs in the U.S.), it’s very easy to justify bringing that production back to the U.S.

Indeed, as the cost of freight coming into the U.S. remains high, the opportunity for domestic manufacturing will continue to be strong, experts say. Some flooring executives suggest this onshoring may be the beginning of a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S. If true, that would represent a very positive sign for the economy (only 9% of U.S. jobs are manufacturing related, according to statistics), particularly the ability to grow and retain jobs here.

Speed to market

MP Global Products, a manufacturer of acoustic and insulating underlayments, is currently assessing commercial storage facilities in strategic locations around the U.S. with the intent to warehouse inventory regionally and add inventory capacity to more quickly fulfill customer orders.

“Certainly, to fulfill an order, delivering from a regional storage facility is a lot faster than waiting for product shipped across the high seas,” said Jack Boesch, director of marketing at MP Global Products. “Right now, we are looking at locations that are close to our largest customers.”

Manufacturing close to the customer enables companies to offer a wide array of available products without lengthy lead times required to ship items from other countries.

Speed to market is critical in today’s market. Having the ability to deliver in five to 10 days, as would be the case with many domestic plants—compared to, say, 15 weeks from a facility overseas—offers a major competitive advantage. A company with overseas operations can try and build up their inventory, but one missing SKU could cost a large-size order.

“Availability, quality control and quick supply are three key benefits to selling domestically manufactured tile to the domestic market,” said Lori Kirk-Rolley, vice president of brand marketing at Dal-Tile Corp.

Kirk-Rolley said the tile industry in particular is known for style and sophistication that was previously limited to European markets; however, with advancement of design and manufacturing technologies, companies like Dal-Tile are helping the domestic tile market make significant gains.

Green benefit

Products that are produced domestically also have a sustainable story to tell in terms of fewer transportation miles, less fuel costs and better monitoring of manufacturing efficiencies. That is the case with Dal-Tile, which recently completed

the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) development process for all products manufactured in its North American production facilities. “With third-party validation from PE International and certification by UL Environment, Dal-Tile is the first manufacturer in the ceramic category to voluntarily disclose cradle-to-grave impacts from all Daltile, American Olean, Marazzi USA and Ragno USA products with UL Environment certified EPDs,” Kirk-Rolley said.

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Made in the USA: Expansions, onshoring boom to the economy

Volume 27/Number 26; April 28/May 5, 2014

By Ken Ryan

Climbing out of a deep recession, the U.S. has seen its manufacturing growth outpace that of other advanced nations, with some 500,000 jobs created in the past three years. It marks the first time in more than a decade that the number of factory jobs has gone up instead of down.

Job creation in America is a byproduct of a new economic reality: China is losing its cost advantage. The Boston Consulting Group wrote in a research paper that in 2001 the average hourly wage in China was $0.58; by 2015, it will be $6. Combine that with the high productivity of American manufacturers and low energy costs, and the cost gap will close for most categories of goods to just 7% by 2015, the firm said.

The flooring industry is contributing mightily to this manufacturing growth. Engineered Floors, for example, is in the process of investing nearly $500 million on new facilities over the next five years that, when completed, will make it one of the largest job creators in the Southeast.

“It certainly is a good thing to create jobs, and we are pleased to do that, but the most important thing to remember is our company successfully built a business model and executed it,” said James Lesslie, assistant to the chairman of Engineered Floors. “If you execute, you create profits, which in turn can create jobs, and that is what we are doing.”

By the end of 2014, Engineered Floors will have created 2,000 jobs in less than four years. “That is quite an accomplishment,” Lesslie noted.

Engineered Floors is not the only one. Since it began onshore production of Mannington and Amtico LVT products in 2013, Mannington has seen a 30% increase in jobs at its plants in Madison and Conyers, Ga., with more than 200 additional jobs to be added by the end of 2014.

Mannington is creating new jobs through both capacity building and innovation, building infrastructure for the industry’s first LVT reclamation and recycling program.

The industry’s largest players, Mohawk and Shaw, are also creating jobs by the day. Mohawk continues to expand its 20,000-employee U.S. workforce. For instance, the company’s recent $180 million investment into its Summerville PET facility created 500 new jobs in northwest Georgia. “This is just one example of how Mohawk continues to invest in the American economy,” said David Duncan, senior vice president of marketing and sales operations. “Through Mohawk’s commitment to the safety, well-being and professional development of its employees, the company is working toward the creation of a thriving economy and a skilled workforce.”

Shaw Industries continues to invest, spending more than $300 million in plant operations that generated approximately 600 new U.S. jobs in the past year. Those job gains cut across a variety of product types, including carpet, carpet tile, hardwood and LVT.

It’s not just northwest Georgia where jobs are being created. It’s happening in Lancaster, Pa., too, as Armstrong’s $41 million LVT production line will create more than 60 new positions.

Dal-Tile recently announced plans to build a glazed porcelain and ColorBody tile manufacturing plant and distribution center in Dickson, Tenn. The 1.4-million-square-foot plant is scheduled to open in late 2015 and will be the company’s 11th manufacturing facility in North America. The Dickson plant will add approximately 150 million square feet to its annual capacity and bring hundreds of U.S.–based jobs.

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Made in the USA: Domestic messaging speaks volumes

Volume 27/Number 26; April 28/May 5, 2014

By Ken Ryan

Ten years ago, IVC Group was a Belgian-owned and based, privately held flooring manufacturer looking to break into the North American market. Today, IVC US appears as American as apple pie; the Dalton-based U.S. division has incorporated Made in the USA into all its merchandising, which has enabled the company to carry this story directly to the retailer and consumer.

“In the last three years we have been updating all our graphics, messaging and marketing collateral to include the Made in the USA icon, complete with American flag,” said Bart Rich, senior vice president of marketing. “The Made in the USA message speaks volumes.”

While IVC is a relative newbie to the U.S. market, the flooring industry includes such legacy companies as Armstrong, Mohawk and Mannington, which collectively have more than 300 years of U.S. manufacturing under their belts. Others, such as Shaw Industries and Anderson (now under Shaw), have been major producers for decades.

Flooring companies with deep roots in the U.S., as well as those relatively new to the market, are voicing their U.S. message in big ways and small, both internally and externally.

Some executives believe the deep pain caused by the Great Recession, coupled with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have rallied Americans to get behind U.S.-made products and companies.

A study by Perception Research Services found that shoppers are motivated by Made in the USA claims on packaging, with most consumers saying that they are more likely to purchase a product after noticing a Made in the USA label on it. The research also ascertained that the primary reason shoppers are more likely to purchase Made in the USA products is to help the economy.

Some flooring executives said the industry must do a better job articulating that message. “Honestly, I don’t feel the flooring industry as a whole does a great job at promoting Made in the USA–and it’s a message that should be encouraged,” Rich said. “Consumers may have assumptions about where certain flooring products are made, but why leave them assuming? We as an industry need to take the assumptions out of the equation and tell the story of Made in America–because it’s important to a lot of consumers.”

David Duncan, senior vice president of marketing and sales operations at Mohawk, said the industry must be clear and transparent in clarifying what is actually meant by Made in the USA. “Made in America should mean the products are sourced, produced or assembled, and finished in the U.S.,” he said. “There should be no confusion in these facts. And at the local level, retailers and salespeople should take the time to familiarize themselves with Made in America products and promote these to their respective customers.”

Mohawk promotes Made in America on carpet, carpet tile, cushion, hardwood, laminate, ceramic and area rugs. For example, consumers choosing Mohawk carpet or hardwood floors can select “Made in USA” as one of many features of their floors; using “Made in the USA” as a search factor on MohawkFlooring.com allows shoppers to instantly see numerous floors that are produced domestically. These products are also labeled as American-made products.

Armstrong, which has been manufacturing flooring in the U.S. for more than 100 years, in 2013 introduced the American Scrape hardwood collection. Inspired by the rugged beauty of the American landscape, a portion of the sales from the American Scrape collection is dedicated to supporting Homes for Our Troops (HFOT), a national nonprofit, non-partisan organization that builds specially adapted homes for the nation’s severely injured veterans.

Mannington points to the fact that it makes flooring in nine communities across the U.S. The company says on its website that it is “deeply committed to the places where we work and to manufacturing quality, American-made products. When you order flooring from Mannington, you’re part of this mission.”

Kim Holm, president of Mannington Residential, told FCNews, “The Campbell family is very committed to Made in the USA. We enjoy a reputation as a Made in America, family-owned, 100-year-old company. We get some credit for that. We talk about it at every opportunity at the trade level.”

Several other companies are promoting their American heritage, too, whether in advertising collateral, website or social media. Founded in 1946 as Standard Plywoods, Anderson Hardwood has been manufacturing hardwood flooring in the U.S. for more than 60 years. As the family business grew, with successive generations of Andersons coming on board to run the company, it stayed committed to Made in USA manufacturing.

Since 1967, Shaw Industries (Anderson’s parent company) has offered Made in the USA products, and the company continues the tradition today with the majority of its floor covering being American-made.

Kronotex, which is not rooted in the U.S., has nonetheless jumped on the bandwagon. “We’re not just newcomers to Made in America,” a company blog said. “We were staking out property and planning our first U.S. laminate flooring production lines long before it was ‘cool’ to do so.”

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Made in the USA: The advantages of domestic manufacturing

Volume 27/Number 26; April 28/May 5, 2014

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 3.18.57 PMWhen Mannington holds its next shareholders meeting—a gathering of 25 key executives—it will not be held in its hometown of Salem, N.J., or New York or Las Vegas, or some swanky venue. Rather, it will be held in Madison, Ga., home to the company’s new commercial LVT facility.

The choice is synonymous with the company’s Made in the USA message: Madison was built from the ground up, and the click installation system that will be made there represents a first for a U.S. flooring company. Continue reading Made in the USA: The advantages of domestic manufacturing