Wall-To-Wall Innovations

Carpet OverviewBy Peggy Whaley, Carpet Editor Wall-To-Wall Innovations
Consolidation, technology and versatility combine to shape the future ofthis challenging and
ever-changing market.
 Consolidation in the floorcoverings industry has been massive in
the last few years. There were over 250 separate corporations about five years ago now there are
60. In the last few months, $2.5 billion of an $11 billion industry have been consolidated into
mills that were already doing over $5 billion. Five to seven companies produce about 80 to 90
percent of the carpet market. Today there are fewer individual companies to make decisions that
affect the entire industry. This creates even stronger competition between the major
competitors.Fortunately, growth has been strong for the carpet industry in the past few years. This
years projections are strong again. The rug portion of the business continues to grow as well.
Carpet corporations are growing in other ways and taking advantage of its existing distribution
capabilities and expanding product offerings to include wood, ceramic tile, laminates and other
home furnishings products, such as comforters, throws and table textiles. CRI – Issue Driven

The CarpetandRug Institute (CRI), Dalton, Ga., is the national trade association for the
carpet and rug industry. CRIs membership consists of manufacturers and suppliers representing over
90 percent of all carpets and rugs produced in the United States. CRI is led by Ron VanGelderen,
president, and Dan Frierson, CEO, the Dixie Group, who is chairman of the CRI Board.According to
VanGelderen, CRI will be issue driven with an outreach attitude. The focus will be on: various
technical issues in fields of health, the environment and schools; issues addressed with
governmental agencies; and communication of all the findings on these issues.CRI has many
challenging roles. For instance, carpet in the school market is being challenged because there is a
perception that carpet is more difficult to clean. The fact is, nationwide, maintenance tends to be
lacking and budgets are diminished because of added demands for budget and other issues, such as
security. CRI and the industry will focus on communicating the facts to schools and assisting them
in knowing how to specify appropriate carpets for school, and how to care for carpet and other
floorcoverings effectively and efficiently, VanGelderen said. The Bigger Get BetterWith hard
surface flooring growing dramatically and getting stronger with many carpet manufacturers as well,
diversification appears to be the name of the game. Even Shaw Industries Inc., Dalton, Ga., is now
marketing ceramic and laminate floorings as well as carpets and rugs.If you include Armstrong World
Industries, a dominant vinyl floorcovering business, in total North American floorcovering sales,
youll see four dominant floorcovering players: Armstrong, Shaw, Mohawk and Beaulieu. They control
60 percent of the total North American floorcovering sales.Shaw Industries is considered the
largest carpet mill in the world with 1998 sales of over $3.5 billion. After trying the retail
business for a few years, its retail operations were sold to the Maxim Group. The firms addition of
Queen Carpet and its commercial divisions, Designweave and Patcraft, gave a tremendous boost in the
commercial market. Mohawk Industries, Calhoun, Ga., made even bigger in-roads after purchasing
Aladden Mills in 1994. Several others mills were acquired and then last year, it made another
significant move by acquiring World Carpets. Mohawk then acquired Image Carpets, the nations
largest producer of polyester carpet, and Durkan Patterned Carpet. Mohawk is also strong in both
residential and commercial carpets. The firms 1998 sales were over $2.6 billion.Beaulieu of
America, Dalton, Ga., had 1998 sales of about $1.5 billion. Beaulieu, a privately owned firm, has
also made several acquisitions in 1998. It acquired Marglen Industries, Columbus Mills and Peerless
Carpet of Canada. Strong in both the residential and commercial markets, Beaulieu is the only
carpet manufacturer in the United States that makes its own polypropylene polymer.Carpet mills are
now manufacturing various sizes of carpets including: modules or carpet tiles for the constantly
changing office; 6-foot goods for ease of handling; the traditional 12- and 15-foot broadloom
goods; and 4-meter carpet for export.These new systems and products are answers to end users desire
for a variety of products that meet various performance and installations needs. An example of this
is the need for a moisture-impervious carpet for health-care and educational use, or a more
sectioned surface for walking comfort and insulation and sound abating qualities in retail
installations. Fiber AdvancementsCarpet mills and fiber manufacturers are having research and
development successes in producing new fibers. There are advancements in old fibers; new backing
systems which includes advancements in soft backing, attached cushions, PVC (polyvinylchloride)
backings and hard backing that are alternatives to PVC and entirely new products, such as Sollenium
from Interface.Fiber companies are still where a large majority of the action takes place. They
definitely keep pace with whats happening and todays technologies. These companies dont just adapt
to change, they sometimes lead it.And where would the industry be without marketing Relationship
marketing abounds and has been around since we bartered with fur pelts and salt. But there is a
difference. Its now also about continually reinforcing your brand name so goods or services are
continually seen.BASF realized this and has started a marketing campaign with a new direction. The
campaign is centered around a new adaptation of its familiar slogan, We dont make the carpet, we
make the carpet better and focuses on advantages accountability, sustainability, versatility and
durability. This new campaign was launched at the recent NeoCon market in Chicago. BASF is among
the top 10 producers of chemicals and related products in the United States, Canada and Mexico,
with sales of $7.2 billion in 1998.With its reputation for innovations for solution-dyed nylon,
BASF has introduced 10 new colors for its contract nylon carpet products. Designers and specifiers
will be excited about the versatility these new colors bring to our current color pallet, said Ian
Wolstenholme, sales and marketing manager for BASFs carpet fiber products said. BASF is also
incorporating recycled content in all of its branded Zeftron® solution-dyed and natural nylon
carpet yarn products. Additionally, it is extending its 6ix Again® carpet recycling program to all
mill extruders who use BASF Ultramid® Nylon 6 polymer containing recycled content as part of BASFs
ongoing commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainable development.DuPont Flooring
Systems is a fully integrated flooring product and services distribution network. Dedicated to
delivering total customer satisfaction, it is a single source for floorcovering needs, including
products, installation, maintenance and reclamation.Most of the new technology at DuPont improves
styling capabilities of Antron® Legacy nylon and Antron Lumena® solution nylon. Dave Findlay,
director, DuPont Chemical Flooring, related that DuPont has concentrated on developing new tools to
help mill customers create carpets with deeper, richer, more vivid colors with its Antron Legacy
nylon. We have introduced nearly 20 new colors in a smaller fiber size to provide more versatility
with both color and design, Findlay said. A new innovation for Antron Lumena is the DuPont
ColorLink technology that creates a random pattern of color throughout the carpet, a styling
capability that has not previously been possible with solution-dyed nylon fiber.Continuing to lead
the industry in surface energy technology, DuPonts DuraTech® patented soil-resistance treatment is
the most durable fluorochemical/soil-release product available today. DuraTech is an integral part
of Antron Legacy nylon and Antron Lumena solution-dyed nylon. Findlay says that DuPont continually
takes steps to improve their environmental offering.More than 50 percent of the production of
Antron Lumena solution-dyed nylon contains recycle-content nylon. In addition, DuPont Flooring
Systems is committed to keeping all carpet removed out of landfills. Since Carpet Reclamations
Programs inception, approximately 44 million pounds of carpet have been reclaimed, Findlay
said. New TechnologyThe carpet industry has countless combinations of carpet patterns,
textures and fibers. New technology is making the fashion side of the industrys products very
exciting. The advancements in tufting technology allow many more patterned and textured carpet
styles. The advancements now offer fashion-oriented choices instead of the majority of products
being a commodity of beige plush.VanGelderen noted that this is happening in residential as well as
commercial business and seems to be the norm instead of the exception. The challenge on the
residential side will be to encourage traditional carpet retailers to stock the new patterns and
assist the consumer in knowing how to decorate with them.On the commercial side, the designers are
embracing the patterns easily and quickly.

August 1999