Marilyn Helms, a business professor at Dalton State College, believes the company will be able to quickly put the situation behind it because of the public’s short attention span.
“Unless it affects your job or indirectly you work in that industry, it’s horrible to say, but these things don’t get much playtime,” Helms said. “I think for the general public, there are so many new stories — and a Paris Hilton story of the day — there are so many other things to grab the attention. I think people’s retention span for these stories, if they don’t affect them directly, are very small.”
The inability of carpet companies to establish their products as well-known, household brand names could actually benefit Beaulieu of America, Helms said.
“Despite the industry spending a fortune on advertising, no one really knows which company made the carpet in their home,” Helms said.
She said the tax evasion plea is “life-changing” to the people involved and to the employees of Beaulieu of America, as well as being a “wake up call” to other executives in the floorcovering industry.
Harr said he doubts the majority of consumers will associate the federal tax evasion conviction with the carpet company.
“Dealers want a strong third player in the carpet industry, so they’re going to continue to support Beaulieu for that reason,” Harr said. “They need a strong third option (behind Mohawk Industries and Shaw Industries), so I think this will be a hiccup and will be behind us before we know it. It’s more important to worry about whether this will have an effect on distribution and the number of dealers carrying their products. I would say that Ralph could probably do what he needs to do to maintain his dealer relationships.”