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WFCA celebrates 60 years, inducts Bell into Hall of Fame

Vance Bell (left), chairman and CEO of Shaw Industries, was inducted into the WFCA Hall of Fame by Scott Humphrey (right), CEO, WFCA.

Dalton, Ga.—The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) celebrated its 60th anniversary gala at Barnsley Resort in Adairsville, Ga. on September 19, 2019. The evening celebration included the induction of Vance Bell, chairman and chief executive officer of Shaw Industries Group, Inc., into the WFCA Hall of Fame.

Bell was named chairman and chief executive officer in 2006 succeeding Robert Shaw, the man who hired him back in the 70's. During his decades with Shaw, Bell has worked with everything from sales and marketing to manufacturing and operations. Shaw now boasts more than $6 billion in annual sales and has approximately 23,000 employees.

The celebration was attended by more than 200 industry professionals and executives, including the association's past presidents, chairmen and directors from the original Western Floor Covering Association and the American Floorcovering Institute (formerly the Retail Floorcovering Institute), which merged to become the WFCA as it is known today. The event saluted its past with a memory-filled glimpse of the association's history through a video presentation of vintage photographs from the group's first 60 years.

"The last 60 years have given us reasons to celebrate," said Scott Humphrey, chief executive officer, World Floor Covering Association. "Our industry has progressed over the past 60 years in all areas including products, quality, service and support to our members. WFCA has played a large role in the defining moments of the flooring industry, and we are proud of its achievements. There will always be challenges, but our future is bright."

The goals of the WFCA include promoting the industry, developing quality standards, sponsoring research, representing member interests in government legislative and regulatory issues and providing management tools and educational programs. Throughout the years, WFCA has continually developed programs to meet the needs of the ever-changing flooring industry.

"As we celebrate this milestone, we are proud of the achievements we've made, and we look forward to the next 60 years of accomplishments," said Humphrey. "We've seen a lot of changes over the years, but one thing remains the same—the value of this industry association. Join us for the next 60 years. Combine your voice with ours. Together we can do wonderful, amazing things."

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Randy Merritt reflects on four decades in the flooring industry

January 8/15, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 15


Randy Merritt officially retired as president of Shaw Industries on Dec. 31, 2017, after 40 years in the flooring industry, all for one company. He built a reputation based on honesty and integrity. A gentleman in every sense of the word. As humble as a man can be. FCNews publisher Steven Feldman for months was trying to convince Merritt to reflect on these past four decades with a front porch, rocking chair view. While it went against his humble nature, he finally agreed to sit down in December, the text of which follows.

The road to Dalton
The reason I was in Dalton was a guy named Bryce Holt. Bryce was the father of my college (NC State) roommate’s wife. Bryce is also the father of David Holt from Mohawk, who I’ve known since he was probably 14 years old. So, I got to know the Holt family very well in my college years.

When I realized I wasn’t getting into med school, I needed to find a real job. I’d always admired Bryce and his success, although I didn’t know much about what he did. I called him up and said, “Mr. Holt, you know I’m just looking to find a job working for a good company.” He asked, “What do you want to do?” I said, “I don’t really care. I just want to work for a good company where there’s an opportunity.” And he said, “I think I know the place.”

I had never heard of Shaw Industries, and of course it wasn’t Shaw Industries then. It was Star Finishing. It was the biggest thing I ever heard of. It was a $100 million company—1976 was the first year Shaw broke $100 million. And to be honest with you I wasn’t even sure how many zeros were in a million. As a college student you didn’t think of things in millions—hardly in thousands.

Hello, Dalton
When I got to Dalton, I thought, man, this is a small town. We didn’t have the Internet back then, so I didn’t really have a way to do any research on Dalton, Ga. I knew nothing about how big it was and didn’t know the carpet industry. The first week I remember someone mentioning the term “tufting machinery” and I had to go to a dictionary to find out what that meant.

I grew up in a very small town, a manufacturing-driven town very much like Dalton. It’s kind of interesting actually as Lexington, N.C., was right there in the central part of Piedmont, which was the furniture capital of the 
world, with High Point, Thomasville, Lexington. And
there were a lot of similarities
in the towns. The furniture 
industry was made up originally of a lot of tiny furniture companies. Most of my high school
 friends’ families had something to
do with the furniture industry. A
lot of them became very wealthy
 because the same consolidation
that ultimately happened in carpet happened in furniture. And the Burlingtons and Mascos came in and bought up the small family furniture companies. But that’s where the history of Dalton and Lexington went in opposite directions because in the furniture business they began immediately moving all the manufacturing to Vietnam, Malaysia and Asia, and the carpet manufacturing always stayed right here in Dalton. And Dalton has continued to prosper and grow, and Lexington is a ghost town of empty buildings that used to be manufacturing facilities.

David Wilkerson
I started May 10, David started Aug. 23. Two weeks after I met David he asked if I wanted to come live with him and a guy named Greg Wheat, another trainee. Greg’s parents had a farmhouse down Houston Valley Road. I said, “That would be awesome,” because I was living in a little one bedroom apartment with rented furniture and nobody to talk to.

I later bought a house and David moved in with my brother and me. They lived with me right up until I got married. In fact, David was building a house that was supposed to be finished by the time I came home from my honeymoon, but wasn’t. He and my brother actually lived with Sharon and me for two weeks after we got married. We lived in this tiny house, and I came home one day and Sharon is sit- ting at the kitchen table just crying her eyes out and said, “They have to go.” So we were roommates probably two weeks longer than we should have been. I introduced David to his wife, Becky, and they have been great friends of ours for 42 years. Our kids grew up together. We went on vacations together. He’s still one of my very best friends.

Vance Bell
Vance Bell was one of the first people I met—truly the first week I was here. Vance was one of four salespeople. All our customers were located in Dalton because we were making carpet for other manufacturers. Back then they didn’t sell carpet by the square yard; they sold it by the truckload of a color. You had Vance, Jim Morris, Doug Squillario and Bill McDaniel. Bill and Jim have passed away. Doug is still alive but has been retired for a long time.

We were close to the same age. Probably the first two years I just knew him as a salesperson. I was trying to learn about the industry so when I got a chance I would ask him questions. When Sharon and I got married in 1979 we bought a house downtown and ended up being almost next-door neighbors to Vance and his wife. Our wives became good friends, and Vance and I became better friends. Vance and I have literally worked together for our entire careers here.

Vance has always been very strategic looking at business. And the trait I’ve valued most about Vance—and this was so valuable to us when he became the CEO in 2006 and I became the president, right at the beginning of the Great Recession—was he is so calm and steady. He doesn’t get real excited and he doesn’t get real depressed. During those very challenging years he said we are going to have to do some tough things, make some tough decisions. But the one thing we weren’t going to do is let our customers feel our pain. And that was a kind of a mantra for us—that we would do whatever we needed to better prepare ourselves for the future. Vance is a very steady hand and I’m more emotional. If I’m ticked off you’re going to know it. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. We made a good team in that regard.

From product development to sales
I was in product development, which is where all the trainees started. Back then we didn’t have a formal training program. We started in product development and would work in a dye facility and then a coating plant and then a yarn mill. One day Bob [Shaw] called me and said, “I need you to go see one of our biggest customers.” One of our first acquisitions was Magee Carpets, and the biggest distributor Magee had was Carson Pirie Scott. Carson at the time was a big distributor throughout the Midwest with
one location in Florida. So I went to Chicago to see Dean
 McKinney, Roger Hunt and
 Jimmy McDonell. The problem was Shaw Industries was growing, Magee Carpets was growing, Carson Pirie Scott was growing. But we weren’t growing together.

Back then you had more mills than you could count on all your hands and toes, and a distributor like Carson was buying from World, Galaxy, Salem, Horizon, Trend, you name it. They had lots of choices, so I just went in and said, “My mission here is one thing: We’re growing, you’re growing. Why aren’t we growing together?”

They looked at me and said, “Randy, we don’t know. We love Shaw. You make beautiful products; your salesmen are here at least once or twice a month. We don’t know why we’re not growing together. We have 13 branches around the country. Are you calling on them? Because we put all these products in our showroom and then those branch managers come in and they pick the products they think will sell in their market, and that’s what they inventory.” I said, “Maybe we’re not calling on them.” So I went home, met with Bob and said, “I think the problem is we’re not really calling on the right people.” About a week goes by and he calls me up and says, “You really think that would make a difference?” I thought it would. So Bob said, “Okay, starting Monday they’re your account.” I was now in sales and reporting to Vance.

I got out a map and plotted where these Carson locations were and decided I wasn’t going back to the main office in Chicago until I went to see all those locations. I still remember the people who ran those branches to this day: Buzz Grows in Chicago, Tom Mielcarek in Milwaukee, Joe Boisvert for Minneapolis, Don Penrod in Columbus, Dan Kaufman in Cincinnati, Harvey Johnson in Florida, Frank Hemmer in Cleveland. Sure enough we hadn’t been calling on them. So I started working on that relationship and trying to figure out what we could do to differentiate ourselves from all these other mills they were buying from. When I started we maybe did $7 million with Carson and within a couple of years we were doing $50 million.

What I learned there, and I still tell our trainees today, it’s great to know the owner of the business. It’s great to know the buyer for the business but you better pay attention to the people who are actually selling your product because they’re the ones who can help or hurt you.

Transition from soft to hard
It was not really difficult for me to transition from carpet to hard surface because once you accept the fact it’s all flooring and our mission here is to provide the right kind of floors. It goes back to what Mr. Buffett said was one of the reasons he was attracted to Shaw—every building he’s ever seen has a floor. So our job is to simply figure out what the consumer wants on her floor and give it to her.

The early customers
One of the first customers I
remember meeting is Larry 
Nagle. He was a great customer, a tough buyer and
bought a lot of product from
Shaw Industries. I remember Marv Berlin from New York Carpet World and Duke Goldberg from Rite Rug. Back then it was Mr. Berlin and Mr. Goldberg. They were huge. For most of my career I was just watching as other people dealt with them. I remember Miles McComas of Carpetland in Baltimore. And what I remember about Miles was that he was a true gentleman. Here was a guy who ran a big business and could be a gentleman doing it. Another guy I remember like that is Ron McSwain. He was such a classy guy. And I admire the way he ran his company and the way treated his people. And I think with his son, Jason McSwain, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I remember Michael Goldberg when he was a young whippersnapper and trying to be like his dad. And I think what’s made Rite Rug successful is Michael has been willing to do things differently than the way Duke did it. And he’s had to change. It’s a different world today. Duke would come into the Chicago showroom and buy 50 truckloads of carpet. That just doesn’t happen anymore. You know Michael will buy way more than 50 truckloads; he just doesn’t buy them all at one time.

I remember Rick Meyer and Jerry Rosenberg. I have great respect for the Blumkins at Nebraska Furniture Mart. Another one of my favorite people is Levon Ezell of L.D. Brinkman. He was just a worldclass guy. Dean McKinney was a world-class guy. Harvey Johnson is a world-class guy. Of course the challenge is that when I start naming people, I’m of course going to leave someone out unintentionally. I’ve met so many wonderful people in this industry, it’s impossible to name everyone.

While I remember those guys, I’m really excited about some of the young people I see in our industry, bright young minds. The Boyajian brothers at A.J. Rose in Boston. The Akin brothers of Akin Carpet One in Oklahoma. Dan Mandel in Southern California. Matt and Ryan Bechtel of Contract Furnishings Mart in Portland. Eric Langan of Carpetland in Illinois. Sisters Dana Chirico and Lauren Voit of Great Western in Chicago. All just really bright, creative people who are passionate about the flooring industry. They have all stepped into their family businesses and have successfully grown and moved their respective businesses forward.

The toughest negotiators
Sandy Mishkin and Alan Greenberg at Carpet One. Marv Berlin at New York Carpet World. He was tough. Michael Goldberg is tough. Olga Robertson is tough but fair. One of the toughest was Allen Stein. I’d see Allen and Mishkin argue over a nickel for three days.

I think one of the things people are beginning to understand is that fighting about the nickels you pay for something isn’t as important as solving how we can sell it for a dollar more. We should be asking ourselves how do we work together to sell products for more money? How do we trade consumers up instead of trading consumers down? Buying is still extremely important, but how we work together to sell for more and to create better, more innovative products are what’s really important. The whole LVT category is a great example of where we’ve learned to sell products for more and together we have made a greater profit. How do we continue innovating and giving consumers a better, more stylish product, all while making more money?

St. Jude
Our partnership with St. Jude Children’s 
Research Hospital started in 2012, and until
 then I didn’t know any more about St. Jude
than you do. My children were healthy. But
 Shaw was looking for a nationally recognized 
philanthropic effort that we could support 
and our customers could relate to. The one that kept rising to the top of the list was St. 
Jude, which was great for me because it fit right in with my passion for children.

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for children. You saw it from our conventions, from the day we started a show for our network that was about the families. And I’m really proud that some of those first children at the Shaw Flooring Network conventions are today working in their family businesses and selling Shaw products. I’ve also worked for years with our Boys and Girls Club here in Dalton. I spent years on the Big Brothers/Big Sisters board of directors.

So when we had the opportunity to develop a partnership with St. Jude it was a perfect fit for me personally. I took a special interest in it from the first trip I made out there. It’s a life-changing experience. You see all those children and what they’re going through and what their families are going through. And you realize what St. Jude does for those families and for children all over the world who are diagnosed with these horrible diseases.

But the point I make about St. Jude is while it’s a good thing to do and it makes you feel great supporting them, it’s also good for business because we’ve been able to leverage that relationship with customers by saying, “You can support St. Jude too by supporting these products and we will give a portion of whatever you buy back to St. Jude on your behalf.” And since 2012, we’ve given just under $8 million back to St. Jude. We’ve built a good partnership that our customers heavily support and believe in, and I think there are plenty of people at Shaw who are passionate about that goal and will carry it on for a long time.

Miss the most
Easy answer. All the people here at Shaw and all the customers. I did not stay at Shaw for 42 years because it was a $5 billion company. I did not stay at Shaw all these years because I had a big job. I didn’t stay at Shaw for any other reason than I love the people I’ve worked with and the customers we worked with. It’s a great industry. People have given way more to me than I’ve given to them.

The constants
The constant is caring, passionate people who work hard to do those things we’ve talked about, who pay attention to the customer, who listen to what the customer wants. When Vance was first selling he would go to his mill customers and say, “This is what we can make. What color do you want to buy?” Today it’s, “What do you want” and we have to figure out how to provide that, whether it’s color or style, texture, or flooring type. There are so many choices today. We have to give customers what they want. The thing I’ve always felt about the flooring industry is there are good quality people who care about making lives better, people who care about making your home happier and something you’re proud of. They care about making your office building more functional and more pleasing. Our goal is to make the spaces where people work and live more beautiful.

Customer evolution
When I started, most
of our business was selling to other manufacturers and those manufacturers were selling primarily through distributors. When we started selling directly to retailers, the largest retailer in America was Sears. Sears used to stock every SKU they showed on their floor in a giant warehouse. Imagine dealing with the style variation and all the things we have today and then trying to stock every SKU. In fact, Shaw Industries is the one that convinced Sears to just show and sell the product and let us service it for them. Other large flooring customers during that time were department stores Macy’s, Rich’s and Kaufmann’s. Today those stores either don’t exist or aren’t where consumers go to shop for flooring.

I’ve had literally hundreds if not thousands of trainees come through Shaw Industries and sit in front of me, and the first question is always the same: “What kind of advice would you give me?” I tell them it’s not rocket science. It’s things most of us have been taught since we were little. And I think the most important piece of advice I can give is the Golden Rule. My mother told me very young to treat people the way you expect to be treated and 
things will be fine. So throughout
 my career, whether I’m someone’s
guest or trying to figure out how to
 do business, I try to treat people
the way I want to be treated. For a salesperson that’s the key to selling. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Here in Dalton I want to eat at a place where the people treat me the way I want to be treated. I don’t care if it’s the best food in town.

In today’s world product is the price of entry. Everybody has to have good product. The difference is the way you’re treated, the way you’re serviced, the way people take care of you. The best salespeople, when they’re talking to you, you’re the most important person in the world to them at that moment.

Ch ch changes
The entire world has changed more in
the last five years than it had in the previous 20. Technology, the speed that
 things happen, is amazing. You’re sitting here with two smart devices and a computer—20 years ago you would have been writing in shorthand. The world is faster and it’s going to change more in the next five years. I think it took something like 30 years for radio to reach 50 million or 100 million users. It took half that time for television to reach that many users. It took four years for the Internet to reach that many users. And today there are millions and millions of searches per minute. Information flows so much faster and consumers expect things faster.

What’s next
Consulting? I would never say never but I don’t see that happening. I wouldn’t do anything that would hurt or compete with Shaw Industries. If there’s a way I could share some of my knowledge and help one of my good retailer friends, maybe. If I could do some training about leadership for someone, maybe. I don’t have any plans right now. I just plan to be a granddaddy. I plan to continue helping children in some way.

The one thing I will do is keep reading Floor Covering News and keep up with the industry. I told Vance my next role for Shaw is cheerleader, booster club, whatever I can do to help. And I have Vance’s cell phone number; if I see something I don’t like I won’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call.


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Warren Buffett shares his wisdom at Shaw Flooring Retail Network conference in Orlando

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 9.12.14 AM[Orlando] Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, which counts Shaw Industries among its many holdings, made a special guest appearance at the Shaw Flooring Retail Network conference here earlier this month. Nicknamed the “Oracle of Omaha,” the legendary investor renown for his keen business insight yet folksy manner participated in an informative question-and-answer session moderated by Vance Bell, Shaw Industries CEO.
Following are excerpts of that discussion:

What worries you about the economy?
Buffett: I never really worry about the economy. The only real worry I have regarding America’s future is the use of weapons of mass destruction, either chemical or biological. Every day there is a very tiny probability that some individual or some group or perhaps some nation will do something extremely foolish. That’s the only thing that could hurt America.
We’ve had hiccups in this country, from 2008-09 we went through something that was really a shock to the American people, and that has taken us some time to get over. But you can’t stop the United States. In 1790 we had less than 4 million people; 240 years later we represent almost 25% of the world’s GDP. We’ve got the secret sauce; Donald Trump knows it, Hillary Clinton knew it and Barack Obama knew it.
I never worried about the economy because of either candidate. The truth is, I did [campaign] for Hillary. But when Trump was elected, we probably net invested over $10 billion since then.

This question centers on one of Berkshire Hathaway’s largest holdings: Wells Fargo. Certainly Wells Fargo historically has had a reputation for being one of the best managed, best performing big banks. As most people know by now, the company was embroiled in a controversy surrounding sales incentives and the creation of unauthorized customer accounts. What is the lesson for business owners and business managers?
Buffett: John Stumpf, [former] CEO of Wells Fargo, is a talented, decent man. But he designed an incentive system that not only didn’t work but encouraged bad behavior. Look, people make mistakes. That’s not the sin; the sin is not doing something about it when you’ve learned you’ve made a mistake. My understanding is this system was incentivizing bad behavior as far back as five years ago.
When we have a problem at our company, our motto is, ‘Get it right’ in terms of the facts, then ‘get it out and get it over.’ Just don’t sit there and suck your thumb. When you’re the CEO you have to do something.

Given the recovery in housing, lower rates of home ownership, Millennials struggling with debt and student loans—what’s your outlook?
Buffett: Housing is going up, but it’s coming out of the biggest shock I’ve seen during my lifetime. You have a $20 trillion asset class (homes), which you can borrow on. That turned into a bubble, and it was a huge bubble. When something so fundamental shatters like that, it takes a while to regroup. We had this huge falloff, not only in housing starts but also household formation. But we’re seeing housing starts come back quite significantly and more of the shock of 2008-09 is receding. We have established momentum, but it has taken a while.
I see this country just exploding moving forward. We’re enjoying better transportation, better entertainment, education, medicine—you name it—than John D. Rockefeller, who was the richest man in the world at one time. We’ve only just started to unlock the human potential. Just think of the things you’re doing differently compared to 20 years ago. Now think about how people were living 240 years ago compared to the way we live today, it’s just unbelievable.

This year marks Shaw’s 50th anniversary. We’ve spent a little bit of time celebrating that milestone but not a lot of time. We’ve been focusing on what the next 50 years are going to look like. In your opinion, what are the traits of successful, long-running companies and what does Shaw need to do to ensure success over the next 50 years?
Buffett: You have to satisfy customers’ basic needs. You’ve got to keep in tune with what your customers are telling you. You have to listen to your customers. If you have happy customers, then you’re going to do well in this world.

You also have to be reactive to change.
Buffett: Absolutely.

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 9.12.21 AMWhat do you think Berkshire is going to look like in the next 10, 15 or 20 years?
Buffett: In 2015-16, Berkshire retained more earnings than any company in America. We plow back everything into the business. We also like to add businesses that have good, basic economics that are run by people who we admire and trust.
We’re going to keep doing what works, and that is let the people who know how to run the business actually run the business but be there with the capital when they need it.

One of the reasons why I feel very confident Shaw is going to be successful over the next 50 years is because we’re part of Berkshire.
Buffett: We play the game in a way that make sense. We’re not subject to banks, we’re not subject to activist investors. We don’t have to do anything based on outside constituencies. We have over $80 billion in cash and treasury bills, and last year we retained $20 billion.

One final question: Berkshire has roughly $250 billion in sales. Do you think it will ever be a trillion-dollar corporation?
Buffett: Yes. I can promise you that. We’re riding a big tailwind here in America, and I expect that to continue. This is the best climate for business and it’s the right time to do this. Bill Gates told me if I was born several thousand years ago I would have been some animal’s lunch. I was lucky to be born in 1930 in the United States, when the odds were 40 to 1 against me.

(Editor’s note: Read Warren Buffett’s tribute to Nebraska Furniture Mart founder Rose Blumkin on page 54 of the 30th Anniversary issue of Floor Covering News. Also, look for more coverage of the 2017 Shaw Flooring Retail Network conference in the Jan. 30 edition of FCN.) 

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Shaw opens $85M carpet tile facility

New plant to bolster manufacturing capacity, recycling capabilities

December 5/12, 2016; Volume 31, Number 13         

By Ken Ryan
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-11-07-amShaw Industries, the largest carpet tile producer in North America, officially unveiled its new carpet tile manufacturing facility in Adairsville, Ga., on Dec. 1. The $85 million facility, which became operational this quarter, will provide added capacity and recycling capability for the company’s Patcraft, Philadelphia Commercial and Shaw Contract modular carpet brands.

Known as Shaw Plant T1, the 600,000-square-foot facility complements the company’s existing carpet tile manufacturing, recycling and warehouse facilities in Cartersville, Ga., and in Nantong, China. The China facility opened in mid-2013 to serve the Asia Pacific market.

Vance Bell, chairman and CEO, who spoke during the ribbon-cutting event, noted that Shaw already invests hundreds of millions of dollars annually in new and expanded facilities, enhanced equipment, technology and processes, and improved distribution systems. “This is a prominent example of that commitment,” he explained, adding the new factory would allow Shaw to innovate across its broad portfolio of products for both residential and commercial applications.

Brenda Knowles, vice president, commercial marketing and product development, said there is a great deal of innovation built into this facility in terms of design features, dimensions and patterns. “The efficiencies that it has will continue to drive further innovation.”

In the commercial market, carpet tile represents an estimated 54.6% of the market in dollars and 44% in volume (FCNews, June 27) and is growing in the high single digits. It is growing robustly in the commercial arena at the expense of a declining broadloom segment. “There have been years over the past six to eight years where there has been double-digit growth in carpet tile,” Knowles said. “We see a bright future for continued growth.”

Shaw’s carpet tile facility currently employs 170 associates. The company estimates the plant will create 500 new jobs once it reaches full capacity. The carpet tile equipment takes up about one-third of the 600,000 square feet of space, which is all under one roof. There are plans to add more equipment in the building and, ultimately, more buildings to the 115-acre industrial site.

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Shaw opens $85 million carpet tile facility

Van Bell, chairman and CEO, of Shaw Industries at the grand opening.
Vance Bell, chairman and CEO, of Shaw Industries at the grand opening.

Adairsville, Ga.—Shaw Industries Group has completed construction of a new carpet tile manufacturing facility located in Adairsville, Ga. The $85 million facility, which became operational in the fourth quarter of 2016, employs 170 associates and will create a total of 500 new jobs once it reaches full capacity.

Known as Shaw Plant T1, the facility provides added production capacity and recycling capability for the company’s Patcraft, Philadelphia Commercial and Shaw Contract brands. It complements the company’s existing carpet tile manufacturing, recycling and warehouse facilities in Cartersville, Ga. and Nantong, China. The China facility opened in mid-2013 to serve the Asia Pacific market.

“The addition of this state-of-the-art carpet tile manufacturing facility allows us to continue to innovate across our broad portfolio of products,” said Vance Bell, Shaw chairman and CEO. “We invest hundreds of millions of dollars annually in new and expanded facilities, enhanced equipment, technology and processes, and improved distribution systems to create beautiful, durable, sustainable flooring to meet our customers’ diverse needs. This is a prominent example of that commitment.”

Shaw is one of Georgia’s largest manufacturing employers—with 14,000 associates in the state including 3,200 in Bartow County, where the company operates nine facilities. The company was ranked among Forbes’ America’s Best Large Employers for 2015 and 2016 and has been recognized by Training magazine as a “Training Top 125” company for the 13th consecutive year (2017).

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Shaw Industries completes expansion of hardwood manufacturing facility

Epic hardwood in Maple

Dalton–Shaw Industries Group Inc. (Shaw) has completed the expansion of its hardwood flooring manufacturing facility in South Pittsburg, Tenn., to meet the growing demand for its engineered hardwood flooring products.

The $40 million investment adds more than 60% capacity to the existing hardwood manufacturing facility as well as dozens of jobs over the past several months as new equipment and production lines have come on line.

“The expansion of our South Pittsburg engineered hardwood facility is a prime example of our continued investment in new product development and advanced manufacturing practices,” said Vance Bell, chairman and CEO. “Hardwood is important to Shaw’s business growth strategy.”

The announcement represents the company’s ongoing alignment with market demands and preferences. In 2006, Shaw transformed this former yarn plant into one of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced hardwood flooring manufacturing facilities across Shaw’s entire portfolio—and the largest engineered hardwood facility of its kind in the world. In 2015, the company introduced a significant product innovation with Epic Plus built with Stabilitek, a next generation engineered hardwood that offers superior performance on high-moisture concrete slabs often found in today’s homes as a result of rapid construction schedules.

Additionally, in recent years, the company has invested in technology, innovation and automation to improve efficiency, product performance, cost, safety, material yield and waste reduction at its hardwood facilities in Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. As a result of this keen focus on its hardwood business, Shaw has become the second largest and fastest growing hardwood manufacturer in the market, having entered the hardwood flooring business just a decade ago.

“We have invested heavily in hardwood in recent years, from styling and service to manufacturing and marketing,” said Scott Sandlin, vice president of hard surfaces. “This ongoing investment offers numerous benefits to consumers, retailers, builders, and interior designers, including a wide range of looks and finishes to match ever-evolving customer preferences, and durable products to withstand today’s busy lifestyles. We will continue to invest in the category toward our goal of being the unquestioned leader in wood flooring.”


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Shaw Industries named to Forbes’ America’s Best Large Employers 2016 list

America's Best Large Employers 2016 w CDalton–Shaw Industries Group (Shaw) has been named to Forbes’ America’s Best Large Employers 2016 list. It is the company’s second time on the list, which debuted in 2015, reflecting the company’s intense focus on people.

By regularly soliciting feedback from both hourly and salaried associates, it remains cognizant of the needs and concerns of its workforce and adjusts or develops programs as necessary.

“We take great pride in this recognition as it illustrates our commitment to creating a better future through people,” said Vance Bell, chairman and CEO of Shaw. “We firmly believe that the future of our company lies in the strength of our associates and their ability to achieve their highest potential. We strive daily to create an environment that fosters their development, feeds their passion, and encourages collaboration and innovation.”

Approximately 30,000 employees at companies with at least 2,500 people were surveyed for the America’s Best Employers list. The survey was conducted with global digital data collection partners who use innovative technology and proven sampling methodologies to facilitate a deep understanding of consumer opinions and behavior. Participation in the survey was voluntary, and respondents were recruited from thousands of sources to maximize reach and representation.

“At Shaw, our approach to talent management is fully integrated with our business strategy,” said Paul Richard, Shaw vice president of human resources. “By clearly defining how each role connects with the organizational goals, we are able to provide clarity around leadership expectation at every level and what is required to advance through the company. This transparency drives associates’ engagement and accelerates our ability to respond to a rapidly changing business environment.”


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Shaw employees receive Women in Manufacturing STEP awards

Shaw Floors_276_384Dalton–The Manufacturing Institute will award Shaw Industries’ Kim Seijo, business intelligence and MDM (product domain) director; LaRuthie Mason, START industrial maintenance training manager; and Erika Swartz, senior process engineer with the Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Award. The STEP Awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry.

Seijo and Mason are among the 100 recipients to be recognized as honorees and Swartz is among the 30 emerging leaders selected. The winners of this year’s award were selected among hundreds of applicants from numerous manufacturers across the country reflecting a diversity of manufacturing sectors and positions.

“These 130 women are the faces of exciting careers in manufacturing,” said Jennifer McNelly, executive director, The Manufacturing Institute. “We chose to honor these women because they each made significant achievements in manufacturing through positive impact on their company and the industry as a whole. “The STEP Ahead Awards are part of the larger STEP Ahead initiative, launched to examine and promote the role of women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research, and leadership for attracting, advancing, and retaining strong female talent.”

Seijo was selected for the positive impact she has made within Shaw through the use of data to make better business decisions; Mason was selected for her leadership in preparing associates for highly skilled positions through the START program and leading efforts related to the Shaw Maker Space; and, Swartz for her process improvements supporting the start-up of Shaw Evergreen Ringgold recycling facility, Shaw said.

“We are proud that the accomplishments of these women are not just recognized within our company, but also within the industry at-large,” said Vance Bell, CEO of Shaw Industries. “The diverse talents within our organization are well represented by this outstanding group of women.”

On April 21, The Manufacturing Institute will recognize the 130 recipients of the STEP Ahead Awards at a reception in Washington.

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Shaw releases sustainability report

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 10.02.34 AMDalton — Shaw Industries Group Inc. has released its sixth annual sustainability report.

“We committed to significant investment in business expansion and continued to advance our sustainable business strategy in 2013,” said Vance Bell, chairman and CEO. “Sustainability at Shaw means driving innovation into the business, protecting and efficiently using resources and actively engaging with our associates, customers and communities while focusing on long-term financial success.”

Shaw’s 2013 sustainability report highlights:

• The company’s approach and continued commitment to the circular economy

• The significant milestone of recycling more than 700 million pounds of carpet since 2006

• Achieving 64% of product sales from Cradle to Cradle Certified products

• A continued dedication to transparency through Health Product Declarations

(HPDs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)

• Strategic community and education partnerships to cultivate the workforce of the future and foster local economic development

• An investment of $20 million in energy and greenhouse gas reductions through efficient equipment and systems in recent years

• The installation of a 1MW solar panel system—one of the largest commercial installations in the Southeastern U.S.—on the roof of Shaw’s carpet tile manufacturing facility in Cartersville, Ga.

• Donations valued at nearly $4 million dollars to community and nonprofit organizations

• An investment of $350 million in expanded or enhanced carpet tile, hardwood,

LVT, extrusion and distribution operations and the creation of more than 1,000 new jobs in coming years as a result

• The grand opening of a new carpet tile plant in Nantong, China, to serve Asia

“Shaw’s holistic approach to sustainability includes a strategic focus on our associates, customers and communities, products and operations through the lens of people, planet and profit,” stated Paul Murray, vice president of sustainability and environmental affairs at Shaw. “This report highlights the tremendous energy the company and all associates devote to work to create a better future.”

Shaw continues to work toward its 2030 sustainability goals to:

• Reduce energy intensity 40%

• Reduce total waste to landfills 100%

• Reduce hazardous waste 100%

• Reduce water intensity 50%

• Achieve an OSHA incident rate of zero

• Design 100% of products to Cradle to Cradle protocols

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New Shaw Evergreen facility to recycle multiple fiber types

John L. ConyersDalton — Shaw Industries plans to expand its reclamation and recycling program to include a new $17 million Evergreen facility in Ringgold, Ga., that would create about 70 new full-time jobs.

“The development of Evergreen Ringgold is the latest example of Shaw’s sustainable business strategy at work,” said Vance Bell, Shaw chairman and CEO. “This addition to our recycling portfolio reflects our continued efforts to drive innovation into the business and to protect and make efficient use of resources while focusing on long-term financial success.”

Shaw said it has recycled more than 700 million pounds of carpet since 2006 via the company’s take-back program and an expansive reclamation network. As an addition to Shaw’s portfolio of recycling solutions, Evergreen Ringgold will give the company a flexible recycling solution that is capable of recycling nylon and polyester carpet.

Complementing Shaw’s carpet recycling portfolio, Evergreen Ringgold will create a high purity post-consumer recycled material that can be used in a broad range of applications. The facility will be operational in 2015 and will be located in what was previously Shaw Plant 37, a rug distribution center.

“Evergreen Ringgold expands our efforts to keep end-of-use carpet out of landfills,” said Paul Murray, Shaw vice president of sustainability and environmental affairs. “By expanding our recycling portfolio, we are illustrating our continued commitment to converting something that historically may have been seen as waste into a resource that has a longer life in the economy.”

As Shaw’s portfolio of recycling investments expands, so does its portfolio of Cradle to Cradle certified products; 64% of the products the company sells are Cradle to Cradle certified, and Shaw has committed to 100% of its products being designed to Cradle to Cradle protocols by 2030.