September 11, 2013

Optimistic about the industry

FloorTek provides way for floorcovering companies, others to meet

Charles Oliver

— Many global companies have their focus on Dalton this week.

The FloorTek Expo, which started Tuesday and runs through Thursday, has attracted companies from across the United States and from around the world to the trade center. The show, hosted by the American Floorcovering Alliance, aims to bring together those who make and distribute floorcovering as well as those who supply machinery, technology and raw materials to the floorcovering industry.

Visitors to the expo on Tuesday immediately noticed a large machine in the center of the trade center arena floor, a yarn twisting machine manufactured in China and sold by Marietta-based America Jingwei.

“This is the latest technology. It runs faster. You get a lot more production. And everything is computer controlled,” said Dan Lee, one of several America Jingwei representatives demonstrating the machine. “The labor saving it provides is tremendous.”

FloorTek has typically been held in Dalton every two years, but it was last held in 2009. Wanda Ellis, executive director of the American Floorcovering Alliance, said the group wanted to take some extra time off to build brand awareness and excitement for the expo.

She said Tuesday the extra time seemed to have boosted interest in the show, with an estimated 70 vendors showing up and hundreds of people coming through the expo by the early afternoon.

“I’m not sure. I haven’t seen the numbers yet, but I think we’ve got a lot more people than we’ve had in the past couple of expos,” she said. “We got things off to a great start this morning with a speech by (Atlanta-based interior designer) Vern Yip of HGTV. It was very highly attended, and I think it was one of the better presentations I have seen. He had lots of insight and good ideas about design. And he was also very funny.”

Ellis said she sensed optimism about the floorcovering industry among those attending the event.

“The exhibitors seem really positive. The crowd has been very good. We’ve got people from all the manufacturers coming. But I don’t think they would be here if they weren’t positive about the industry and its future,” she said.

Saint-Gobain is one of the oldest companies represented at FloorTek, founded in 1685 as a mirror-making firm in France. Representative Dan Weisenberger said today it is a multinational company involved in many different industries. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, an American subsidiary, provides high-performance polymers to many industries, including the carpet industry.

“This (FloorTek) helps us meet potential new customers, but it’s really more about connecting with existing customers and maintaining those relationships,” he said. “And Dalton is a great place to do that.”

Jane Marie Wilson doesn’t make carpet or the machinery to make carpet. She bakes cakes and cookies. But she came to FloorTek to represent her Dalton-based company Mama Wilson’s Homemade Cookies and Cakes.

“We do gift boxes and fill them with cakes, big cookies, little cookies. You name it. Then we gift wrap them and ship them all over the country,” she said.

Wilson said a friend recommended that she talk to local floorcovering companies that might be looking to send gifts but she didn’t know who to talk to.

“I figured if I came here I could meet the right people,” she said.

Wilson said the decision seems to have paid off.

“I’ve had people ask me if I’m in the right place, but I have had a lot of people come by and talk to me and try a cookie just because I am so different from everything else here,” she said. “I’ve met people from several different companies, and I hope that will translate into some business.”