December 6, 2013

Mohawk makes major investment in equipment and people

Charles Oliver

— Companies don’t make multi-million dollar investments in new plants and new equipment if they aren’t confident about the future, Gov. Nathan Deal said. And the fact that major companies in the floorcovering industry have been making large investments in Northwest Georgia shows they have that confidence.

“That’s a story worth telling,” Deal said Friday morning at an appearance at a Mohawk Industries plant in Dalton on South Hamilton Street. “There’s a resurgence in construction not only in this state but all across the country, something that all of us know is at the very heart of being able to come out of this very long downturn and recession.”

Mohawk announced Wednesday it would spend $85 million to upgrade the Dalton plant and another in Rome to convert them from yarn-spinning plants to bulk continuous filament (BCF) twisting and heat setting plants, enabling both facilities to keep up with growing demands.

“This is an example of what is happening in industries that are willing to adjust and adapt with new product lines they are adapting to what the demands of the marketplace will be. You can’t stay stuck in the same patterns,” Deal said.

After leaving Dalton, Deal was scheduled to visit the facility in Rome. He canceled a visit to a Mohawk plant in Summerville that converts plastic bottles to carpet fiber. Mohawk announced last year that it would exapnd that plant.

All told, Mohawk’s investments in those three plants are forecast to create or retain 1,000 jobs, including creating 420 jobs in Dalton.

Joe Yarbrough, Mohawk’s senior vice president of advanced manufacturing engineering, said the company will not only be investing in cutting-edge technology but also investing in its workforce. The company will be working with Georgia Quick Start, a project of the Technical College System of Georgia, to provide training for the workers at these plants.

“This program has worked with us in the past to get special training and skills to make our operations the successes they are,” Yarbrough said. “At the end of the day, the investment that we make in equipment is only as important as the investment in our people. We are extremely proud of the workforce we have in these facilities. The investments we are making in these facilities are preparing us as a company for the future. We’ve never been in a better position as a company to exceed our customers’ expectations.”

Deal said Mohawk’s planned expansions confirms “Site Selection” magazine’s recent designation of Georgia as the No.1 state for business climate.

“That designation comes about because of a multitude of projects across the state,” he said.

Deal also said the decision last year by the General Assembly to phase out the tax on energy used in manufacturing probably played a part in several recent announcements by companies that they plan to build or expand plants in Georgia.

Yarbrough agreed that energy costs have a big impact on the floorcovering industry.

Dalton City Council member Denise Wood, who also works for Mohawk, said the company’s decision to expand its Dalton plant is a major coup for the city.

“As a Mohawk employee and as a member of the City Council, I’m very excited about this,” she said. “I hope that many of those people who come to work for Mohawk will also choose to live in the city.”