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Already growing, Maples looks for more

Maples Industries during the past year has experienced one of its strongest periods of growth, galvanized by increased placements at existing and new retail channels as well as the expansion of its basic bath rug business.

Now, with the Pillowtex bath rug businesses up for grabs, Maples — like other top category players — is vying for its own slice of that $47 million pie.

"We have the extra capacity now and we're able to take it on," founder Wade Maples told HTT.

Over the past five years, Maples Industries — which reinvests 90 percent of profits back into the company — has spent $23.9 million in expanding and upgrading its manufacturing facilities with new equipment and added square footage. The 37-year-old company, which is family-owned and operated, employs 2,200 workers at three facilities here at headquarters, a strategy it does not intend to alter.

"We feel pressures everyday [to source]. There is constant pressure," Maples said. "We have low overhead, we're automated, streamlined and focused. The most important thing to us is cost structure."

The privately held company has experienced a compound annual growth rate of about 17.5 percent over the last 10 years, he said, led by the bath rug segment, which from 2001 to 2002 grew by 20 percent to $59 million in sales. That growth was attributed, the company said, to new placements in all retail levels and new auction business.

Maples' accent and area rug business has grown at a more moderate pace, up 7 percent to $141 million in sales from 2001 to 2002, through new designs in olefin constructions and added printed and solid-color nylon offerings.

More recently, Maples branched into the home center channel for the first time and added new mid-tier department stores to its customer base. It also expanded its placement considerably at the mass merchant level.

"We've really seen growth lately, especially in these past few weeks," Maples said. "We've really been beating the bushes, and we see retailers more confident going into the fall season."

The majority of the company's programs are private label, which Maples described as "far and away our most important brands." The in-house "Maples" brand services mainly mid-tier retailers. The other in-house brand, Roomers, targets department stores.

Although rug company rivals Mohawk Home and Shaw Rugs have expanded beyond core flooring coverings assortment, Maples intends to stick to its niche.

"We're not looking to be a total home resource," said Arnold Stevens, vp. "Everyone else is looking to diversify and import. We don't want to because we don't have to."

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