US top carpet maker sets up in China

Updated: 2013-09-16 11:10

By Kelly Chung Dawson in New York (China Daily)

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Berkshire Hathaway's Shaw Industries Group, the world's largest carpet manufacturer, will open a 210,000-square-foot carpet tile plant in the port city of Nantong, 105 km outside of Shanghai. Offering the company's trademark recyclable, high-quality products, the plant will produce carpet tiles to a market that is already serviced by existing showrooms in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and other Asian cities.

"We believe in manufacturing close to the customer, with the efficient service times customers expect," said Brenda Knowles, a vice-president atShawIndustries. "We believe the same for the domestic market in the US, and we see this as a big step in our global growth plan, which will also help us to continue expansion in the US."

Headquartered in Dalton, Georgia, Shaw, a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc, makes more than $4 billion in annual sales. The company also has locations in India, Mexico, Australia, the UK and elsewhere. Shaw recently announced plans to open a new manufacturing facility in Adairsville, Georgia, and does not plan to import or export carpet tiles between the US and China.

"Two thirds of the world's carpet tile is sold outside of North America - the majority in Asia," said Shaw Industries Chairman and CEO Vance Bell, in an official statement. "Sales in China, in particular, have grown 20 percent annually, making it the world's third largest carpet-tile-purchasing country. Our new plant expands our opportunity to serve this growing market."

Shaw Industries chose the city of Nantong for its rich history of textile weaving and production, which has produced a labor force familiar with the process. The city's proximity to major ports and national highway infrastructure make it a perfect fit for the company's goals, Knowles said.

"Nantong's woven textile heritage mirrors the communities in which we've manufactured flooring in the southeastern US for more than half a century," said Shaw Industries vice president for Asia Pacific Jeff Galloway, in an official statement. "The feeling of being at home in China is due in even larger part to the reception and cooperation we've enjoyed from the Nantong government, the officials in the Nantong Suzhou Science and Industrial Park, and all those with whom we've done business in China, including our newest Shaw associates."

The company has already hired 100 employees for the Nantong facility, with two from the US offices. Eventually, the plant will employ 250 at all levels of management and manufacturing, Knowles said.

The new Nantong factory was built from scratch, designed and constructed to meet the particular needs of carpet tile operations, including a specific flow of operations and equipment.

(China Daily USA 09/16/2013 page1)