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Casteel King at Mohawk Home

President of Mohawk Home since June 1, Rocky Casteel lays out a vision for the company that he says will take it ahead of the curve

Rocky CasteelRocky Casteel
When H&TT interviewed Mohawk Home’s new president Rocky Casteel for this article, the most challenging question was saved for last: Describe yourself in three words.

“That’s a tough one,” said Casteel. “I have to think about it.”

In his 24-year career working in the soft flooring industry, most of that time at Mohawk, Casteel has managed “every aspect of rug manufacturing and gained valuable experience in sales,” the company said.

Last month, all that knowledge and understanding was put to use with his promotion from coo to president of the Mohawk Industries division, replacing Bill Kilbride, who recently retired after 21 years at the helm.

Brian Carson, president of Mohawk Flooring, to whom Casteel reports, told H&TT: “Rocky has played an integral role in Mohawk Home’s growth over the past two decades. During that time, he has developed a great understanding of our business, our products and our customers’ needs. I’m proud to have Rocky leading our Mohawk Home business. His experience, passion and commitment to excellence and innovation make him an ideal leader for our rug business.”

When he was ready to assume his new leading role, Casteel sought advice from Kilbride, his mentor, and combined it with what he has learned in his own experience over the years.

“Don’t screw it up. That’s for sure.”

He laughed, then added: “It’s really not about filling shoes or acting in a way to emulate others. It’s about staying true to the core beliefs and values that have been instilled within me. We are very fortunate to be supported by a great company like Mohawk Industries. We must ensure we maximize that support as we move forward — financial support, technology support, innovation support and resource support.”

Casteel began his career with American Rug Craftsmen in 1990 right out of college. He started there learning the manufacturing operations, department to department, and then moved into sales.

Three years later when the company was acquired by Mohawk, Casteel was brought on board as a vp of sales for the Southeastern division.

From there he climbed the ranks at Mohawk Home until 1996, when a career opportunity for growth presented itself. Casteel left Mohawk to join then-startup company American Weavers as its vp and general manager of the tufted rug division.

That company grew rapidly, and by 1998 Mohawk made a move to acquire it, and that is when Casteel returned to the organization — this time as general manager for all of Mohawk Home’s product categories.

Since June 1, his first official day as president, Casteel’s first order of business has been to “ensure we finish the quarter positively and prepared for a strong back half of the year,” he said.

Casteel is leading Mohawk Home in a vastly different retail and manufacturing environment than his predecessor, and he said part of the company’s future growth relies on its ability to adapt and change not just rapidly but ahead of the curve.

The biggest and fastest change to date and in the future in this business is “without question, the influence the Internet has had on our business,” he said. That includes social media outlets Facebook and Pinterest, and Mohawk Home’s highly-interactive website.

“We have also changed our distribution model and product assortment to maximize business online,” Casteel continued. “Our intent is to be a resource for the consumer at any point in their decision making process. We are only scratching the surface for where this will end up. The game is going to really change going forward, and we will be in front of it.”

 Big plans are set for 2015, which Casteel said will be “all about product innovation, process innovation, and sustainability. I truly believe the next 18 to 36 months will be dynamic for Mohawk Home in many facets.”

So, about those three adjectives…

“I would say honest, committed and passionate,” he said. “Honest, because we must always do what we say we are going to do … committed because we must be willing to get our hands dirty and work hard … and passionate because you must enjoy what you do and be willing to put your heart and soul into it. We want to focus on the extra 5%. Many get the 95% right, but that extra 5% makes the difference and exceeds expectations.”

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