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Tornadoes have little impact on rug industry hubs in Southeast

Retail Editor 3 -- Home Textiles Today, April 28, 2011

Dalton, Ga. - The streak of tornadoes and storms that this week left nearly 250 dead in five southern states miraculously missed much of the area rug industry's hubs in Alabama and Georgia.

Rug giants run headquartered in Dalton, Ga. - Mohawk Home, Shaw Living and Oriental Weavers USA - told HTT their plants suffered little or no damage and there were no reported injuries to staff.

Downed power and/or phone lines affected and interrupted business today. HTT was able to reach some executives by phone, but not others. A conversation was interrupted because of service issues during an interview with Mohawk Home. Several companies were able to respond by email.

"Our facilities are up and running, and were having some phone and electrical issues," explained Bart Hill, general manager of bath and area rugs, Sugar Valley, Ga-based Mohawk Home. "But structurally, we're OK. We are still trying to locate all of our people to be sure everyone is alright. We've located probably about 95% of everyone. These storms were unlike anything we've ever seen before."

Kim Barta, brand manager for Shaw Living in Dalton, Ga., told HTT by email that she was not aware of any impact on the Shaw Living manufacturing facility, "but haven't heard how other [Shaw] facilities are."

She described the area as "devastation all around. Shaw Living is not open today, but not damaged. Trees down, power outages all over and then unbelievable damage in. lives lost. People injured. Schools, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores - destroyed, not to mention homes. [It's] so sad. Please remember our town in your prayers."

At nearby Oriental Weavers USA, also in Dalton, "everything is well," said Aaron Gray, director of marketing, also by email. "It's business as usual for OW. The Dalton area experienced strong winds, rain, and some hail. Ringgold, Ga., just north of us, got hit the worse...Our thoughts and prayers are with the city of Ringgold."

Gray added that some OW employees live in Ringgold area, "but were very fortunate that they did experience any serious damage to their homes. Most just experience some power outages."

Balta US was also lucky to discover that its staff was well.

Patrick Moyer, president, was in Tucson, Az. on a business trip when he told HTT by phone, "We are all OK. We have some employees in Ringgold whose homes were hit hard, and we've got some of our staff heading out there to help them. But our staff is all OK. I have heard no reports of anyone who had total devastation, and no one was hurt."

Next door in Alabama, domestic rug manufacturer Maples Rugs, based in Scottsboro, saw its power shut down at about 5 p.m. yesterday and expects it to remain off "for at least the next few days," John Maples, co-owner, told HTT from his home by cell phone.

"We did not have damage at our facilities, and none of our employees were hurt," he said. "There really wasn't a huge amount of damage in town, only near town."

Maples' parents and co-owners of the company, Wade and Pat Maples, had just stopped by to check on the family.

"Right now we don't have power, but we do have water and natural gas. We're just here, hanging out and killing time. It could really have been a lot worse."

Others in the home furnishings industry were not as lucky. HTT sister publication Furniture Today reported that furniture manufacturing executive Lynn Davis, vp of Davis Furniture Inds., was killed in Ololona, Miss., yesterday when a tornado swept away a truck he was driving. In Tupelo, Miss., at least one furniture plant was destroyed and others were damaged.

 

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