Dalton — Werner Braun served as the face and the voice of the carpet industry during some of its most successful years and during possibly the worst recession in industry has ever faced. But after 14 years, he is stepping down as president of the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) on March 31.
On Tuesday, March 18, industry leaders gathered at the Dalton Golf and Country Club to honor Braun and the work he has done with CRI.
“Werner presided over the Carpet and Rug Institute during a time of great change,” said David Jolly, president and CEO of J+J Flooring Group and chairman of the CRI. “He presided over the Green Label program and the continuation of the Green Label Plus program, which is something that is nationally recognized and is probably the envy of many trade organizations. That showed that our industry was proactive in dealing with concerns about indoor air quality concerns. He promoted the Seal of Approval program, which makes the carpet-owning experience much better. And, in 2009, when all of us went through the Great Recession, Werner presided over a streamlining of the Carpet and Rug Institute. Werner has just done a great job through all of that.”
Ralph Boe, who recently retired as CEO of Beaulieu of America, praised Braun for his leadership on issues such as dealing with consumer concerns on indoor air quality and allergies. “He was able to put us together with the right organizations and individuals to work our way through those issues,” Boe said. “He’s been excellent from that standpoint. And he has just been an excellent president.”
Braun worked for 31 years for Dow Chemical Co., then worked briefly as senior director for international relations at the Chlorine Chemistry Council before joining the CRI as president in 2000.
Industry leaders commended Braun for his professionalism, integrity and devotion to the carpet industry. In particular, several lauded his ability to help them find consensus and work together on issues of mutual concern.
“He deserves accolades for putting up with the rest of us around here,” joked Mohawk Industries CEO Jeff Lorberbaum.
But Braun praised industry executives, particularly CRI’s board members, as well as the staff of the CRI for making his job easy.
“It never has felt like a job,” Braun said. “When I retired from Dow in 1998, at my graduation party I said I felt truly blessed. I can say those same words today.”
Braun said he plans to spend more time with his family and to travel. He says he also hopes to increase his involvement with charitable organizations and community groups. He said that has always been something that was important to him but he had to let that involvement decrease over the last few years as his duties at the CRI took up more of his time.