April 27/May 4, 2015; Volume 29/Number 2
By Ken Ryan
When 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.”