By Ken Ryan
As Georgia became one of the first states to relax restrictions amid the still ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the state’s largest flooring companies say they were not influenced by Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision.
Mohawk and Shaw, the two largest companies in the flooring industry—both Georgia based—stated they are considered essential businesses and, therefore, the governor’s recent announcement of a phased-in reopening approach did not alter their plans.
Dalton-based Shaw Industries released a statement to FCNews stating that its associates’ physical and financial well-being is its top priority when making decisions during this crisis. “By working together to ensure our response policies and protocols are followed, we can help control the spread of the virus and keep our associates and their families safe and financially whole at the same time,” the company said.
To date, Shaw said it is aware that approximately 40 of its
22,000-plus associates have tested positive for COVID-19. In response, Shaw has developed what it calls comprehensive COVID-19 emergency response policies and procedures, and provided its associates with choices to make the best work decisions.
Here is a summary of the steps Shaw has taken as of April 20, 2020:
- Implemented frequent, enhanced, extensive cleaning methods and social distancing practices at each of its facilities and encouraged associates to check their temperature before coming to work.
- Provided face masks for frontline associates and encouraged all associates to wear cloth masks as they deem appropriate for their work environment in addition to taking social distancing precautions.
- Limited in-person meetings and avoided plant-to-plant travel.
“Like the rest of the world, we are spending a lot of time in Google Hangouts video conferencing and on conference calls to minimize contact and avoid travel,” the company said.
Shaw associates continue to implement social distancing methods, including rotating workdays and staggering work and break times. The company is also keeping visitors to a minimum and has suspended all non-essential third parties from visiting through May 31, 2020.
Similarly, Calhoun-based Mohawk Industries said it has taken strong action to ensure the health and safety of its teams across the country as an essential business, and is complying with all relevant state mandates.
“We suspended non-essential travel and implemented remote work arrangements for the majority of roles that are able to do so,” Jeff Meadows, president of residential sales for Mohawk, told FCNews. “We enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols and instituted clear guidelines for safe distancing between people on site or in our facilities. We are also currently evaluating several additional measures, including temperature checks at facility entrances and personal protective equipment (PPE) adjustments so we can manufacture in a safe environment. Additionally, we are encouraging our employees and their family members to continue taking consistent preventive measures both at work and home based on the CDC’s guidelines.”
Mohawk said it is “100% in business” with products in stock and trucks, with deliveries flowing nationwide. “As we are considered an essential service, we will remain focused on carefully identifying what is best for our employees, our communities and for the business as we move into these unprecedented times,” Meadows added.
As with manufacturers, flooring retailers in Georgia say they have not been swayed by the governor’s decree to open an array of business such as hair salons and tattoo parlors. Kemp’s Dalton West Flooring in Newnan, Ga., for example, said it has kept its showroom open the entire time, albeit with self-imposed restrictions. “We’ve opened our showroom on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, and shipping and receiving has been open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekday,” said owner Chris Kemp. “We have closed on Saturdays, and we have never opened on Sundays.”
Kemp’s associates wear masks on the showroom floor while taking care of customers. In addition, the company has established a cleaning station at the entry of all of its showrooms along with many signs and suggestions posted. Distancing obstacles are placed at all counters. “Our staff has been working at about 30%,” Kemp said. “We have several employees with different issues that have been out since the onset of the virus.”
In Marietta, Enhance Floors & More has remained open as well, but there has been minimal demand. “We specialize in residential replacement, and we are opening the showroom for clients by appointment only,” said Elisabeth Stubbs, owner. “Staffing is greatly reduced. We are practicing social distancing, wearing masks and sanitizing our samples after every client. I hope as Georgia’s phased-in reopening proceeds—and there are no big spikes in confirmed cases—consumer interest will increase.”
In keeping with demand
Several other states have since joined Georgia in reopening at least parts of their economy including Tennessee, Colorado, Texas, Mississippi and Alaska. Kevin Frazier, president of Frazier’s Carpet One Floor & Home in Knoxville, Tenn., said his business “has stayed 100% open the entire time.”
As a Carpet One Advisory Council member, Frazier said he has been doing “a ton” of consulting with other Carpet One owners to help them navigate through a reopening phase. Frazier said the first thing to decide when re-starting your business is to determine what percentage of restart you want to begin with, be it 100%, 75%, or 50%. “Don’t fall into analysis paralysis; shoot to be more open, not less open,” he explained.
In his case, Frazier’s RSAs continue to work in segregated shifts for distancing purposes. “All operations staff is working, but perhaps for distancing purposes or lack of current demand they are still working in slightly abbreviated shifts,” he said. “All subcontractors are back in pocket, even if they are only working three or four days a week. Our RSAs are being directed to aggressively try and schedule open orders.”