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Maples Touts History, U.S.-Made Products

Maples Industries’ new taglineMaples Industries’ new tagline for market — Rugs Across America, as emblazoned on this rug here — speaks to the company’s long history as a domestic manufacturer.
SCOTTSBORO, ALA. - After almost five decades of domestically producing area, accent and bath rugs, there is no doubt that Maples Industries is well versed in the home textiles industry.
     During market last month, the three-generations-old company - with roots that date back to 1928 - weaved something else for retail customers: its own story.
     Maples Industries touted its rich history in home textiles in tandem with the launch of its latest bevy of new wares - all made in the USA under the new tagline "Rugs Across America."
     "The big story for us at market is ‘Made in America,' " said Wade Maples, a co-founder and co-owner of the company, along with his wife and two sons. "It really works for us - to be a domestic supplier - so we are really going to play off that in everything we say and do at market."
     He noted that he and his team plan to share their stories about the company's history with buyers - many of whom he said don't know it - "so we will re-emphasize that in our conversations with them."
     Helping tell the story are several new displays throughout the showroom, stressing that "everything we make is made right here in Alabama," added Patricia "Pat" Maples, co-owner and head of product development and design, and Wade's wife.
     Although Maples Industries was founded in 1967 by John "Wade" Maples and his father, John Maples Sr., it was originally started in 1928 by John Maples Sr. and his siblings and mother as The Maples Company. The product offering included bedspreads, chenille robes and tabletop tufted rugs. Then in 1963, the family sold the company to JP Stevens.
     Four years passed, and in 1967 Wade and his father bought an abandoned radio station, installed a few tabletop tufting machines, and Maples Industries was born.
     "We sold our first bath sets to JCPenney," Wade said. A year later, the company got a Small Business Administration loan and moved into a 30,000- square-foot facility - which still serves as its headquarters.
     "And we gradually grew from there," Wade said.
     In the early 1980s, Wade's son John III started working for the company in the summers from high school through his college years.
     "I was doing maintenance, running tufting machines, working in latex coder, as a bundle boy, painting," he told HTT. "I had plant jobs and then later office-type work until I finally joined full time in 1990."
     In between, in the late 1980s, Pat Maples also came on board, working in product design and development.
     The company took a major turn in 1988 when it hired its own fulltime in-house sales force.
     "That was a huge step, a big transition for us," Wade noted. "That is when we really started expanding our business with other major customers."
     Among the first to be hired were Bob King and Arnie Stevens, both of who are still with the company today and serving as vice presidents of sales.
     Over the years, Wade said, Maples Industries has reinvested much of its profit back into the company.
     "We started at zero, and today we've grown into a more than $200 million company," Wade said. "And we began with 30,000 square feet and now have over 1 million square feet of space across four different facilities, all in Scottsboro." "And let's not forget we employ 1,700 people," added Pat. "That is a big source of pride for us. Our own grandson, Christopher, is going away to college soon, and we know that many of our employees have worked for us and have been able to put their own families through college."
     Wade agreed: "The big benefit that comes from our kind of business is what we are able to do for people who work for us. It is all about the jobs."
     And that is largely because Maples Industries is still 100% family owned, the couple agreed.
     As John III explained: "We're a family team here. We sit down together on a daily basis, when someone isn't traveling [for business], and we work as a team with our extended family of employees here at the mill and develop product, solve problems and even argue a lot. But we keep it positive."
      Added Wade: "We all enjoy working, and there is plenty of opportunity for that in this business."
     Looking ahead, Wade said, "Our plan is to keep building and expanding our business and develop it further with domestic made product - indefinitely."

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