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Cecile Corral

Brumlow Home Trumpets Tufted Rugs

After a five-year absence, Brumlow Home is returning to the tufted rug category — this time with a "vertical" vengeance.

The father-and-son owned and operated company is bringing back tufted offerings, domestically manufacturing the product from start to finish, and adding more color to the category.

Brumlow exited the tufting business in June 2003 when it sold this facet of its operations to Sugar Valley, Ga.-based Mohawk Home. Under the conditions of the sale, Brumlow signed a non-compete agreement that would last five years.

It was not long afterward that Brumlow began to see voids in the marketplace for certain tufted varieties.

Encouraged by these potential and untapped business opportunities at retail, Brumlow spent the past six months laying the groundwork for its comeback in tufting category.

Only, this time, the mission would be different.

"We're making a niche for ourselves," explained Mitchell Brumlow, owner and co-founder of the company with his father, Tommy, in 1981.

"It's become a narrow field now, with so many companies that are being bought up and getting out of the business, like we did," he continued. "Now with only Maples and Mohawk in the tufted rug business, we see new opportunity for ourselves."

The timeline of Brumlow's new tufted business began this past June. Brumlow expanded its distribution center here with an additional 120,000 square feet of space, bringing the site now to more than 350,000 square feet total.

In early fall, Brumlow added seven tufting machines — for a new total of 11 including four machines the company acquired from Fiber-Pro Inc., two years ago – to its plant, as well as a ColorTech machine that can incorporate six colors on each tufted, washable rug.

"The ColorTech machine allows us to be more efficient in that we can use, for example, four colors of polypropylene and two of nylon to help keep our costs down," said Patrick Moyer, president.

"There is a void in the tufted bath rug category for this kind of look, and that was part of our motivation to return to this category," Moyer explained.

This month more infrastructure comes on line: new cut-and-sew equipment "to modernize our operations and make them more efficient," Moyer said.

Brumlow is also in the final stages of fitting out the installation of its new yarn mill, with the capacity to twist and heat-set yarns for more variety in rug constructions "and help us offer more innovative yarn systems," he noted.

The total investment for this re-entry in tufting came to $5 million, but the retail niches do seem to beckon.

One major mid-tier department store is already carrying ColorTech-made tufted scatter-to-room-size rugs by Brumlow, "and the reaction in the marketplace has been extremely positive. We are very encouraged by these early results and sales have outpaced our projections," Moyer said.

Brumlow has churned out business with several new accounts — a major discount department store, a warehouse club and two home centers.

Ultimately, the Brumlows hope to broaden their low- to high-end retail customer base by virtue of custom bath and accent tufted rug offerings. "We're not really trying to compete in huge tufting categories," explained Moyer. "We're just looking to fill niche businesses."

In related news, Brumlow is expanding its New York showroom on the eighth floor of 295 Fifth Avenue to more than 3,000 square feet, so as to include the new tufted lines.

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