September 17, 2014 Leave a comment
It is important to get out of the showroom and do something educational. In this case, go to north Georgia and visit some of our suppliers and the faces behind the voice on the phone (or an email). Our travels included a visit to J Mish in Calhoun, GA. This is a boutique mill that offers some unique products, custom offerings and great customer service.
Just up the road from them is Southern Yarn Dyers. This is the largest wool carpet dying facility in the United States. Just like J Mish, it is all about customer service and quality. Two terms that our group would hear from just about every place we visited. This plant is buzzing! Shifts run nearly 24/7! John Whittenburg, the owner is helpful in leading me to a place where our showroom can purchase wool serging yarn in any color that we need.
Next stop is Nourison and seeing an old friend, Don Karlin (formerly with many places including J Mish). Don is now National Sales Manager at Nourison and is complimented by French Irishman, Gerard O’Keefe. One thing about Nourison is that they have inventory! Rugs, runners, broadloom and coordinating borders. Even seasonal Christmas rugs.
Nourison’s warehouse is HUGE. The first one filled up so that added a second ( above right) that is just coming online. The photos do not begin to tell the story. Area rug fabrication (Infinity – 50 rug sizes from broadloom carpet) is done at this facility as well with matching wool serging and runner end capping.
Dinner hosted by Nourison in a Japanese Hibachi restaurant that ran out of cold saki five minutes into our arrival brought a lot of laughs. So did the stories related to the fear of squirrels by Wools of New Zealand UK Director, David Hammond (not related to Top Gear’s Richard Hammond).
Day 2: A visit to the coating and backing plant in Dalton, GA. A multi generational business run by Tom Peebles. Global Textile services can apply 70 different types of backing to carpet, pad, etc. The place has so many bathes of chemicals, tanks, etc. that Netflix’s Breaking Bad comes to mind. Terry Hicks (bottom left) shows the techiniques of how the backing is “married” with the carpet. And yes, there are different grades of latex.
Our next stop was Woolshire Carpet Mills in Calhoun, GA. Now run by second generation, Terry Green (bottom right). These guys make high quality wool carpet that can be used in commercial and residential applications. In the outgoing freight of the day, there was roll for Gucci headed to Malaysia and Tiffany & Company in Japan.
Thank you to Terry and his wife, Carmen, for a great lunch at Dub’s High on the Hog barbeque restaurant in Calhoun. Terry recommends the ribs. And after having them with the brunswick stew and fried okra, I agree. There are some great things in the South that you just cannot get in Southern California including the genuine hospitality.
Our afternoon visit to Godfrey Hirst in Adairsville, GA with John Sheffield and Laurie Bray offered a surprise. An offer to manufacture a printed wool product exclusively for the Wools of New Zealand Showroom Partners of Excellence. This product could be used in commercial settings. Now we just need to have our Advisory Council come up with the final designs and colors. We hope to have the samples available in Spring 2015.
Our final day was spent at Masland / Robertex / Carousel. The Dixie Group recently purchased Robertex and Carousel which is based in Calhoun, GA. This mill does much more in house compared to the boutique carpet mills. They have their own dye house in the same facility. In addition, there is a hand loom area in the plant devoted to making custom rugs under the Carousel brand. It takes a weaver 6 to 9 months of training before they are 100% comfortable with the hand looming process. We are so lucky that this type of work can still be done in the USA. As luck would have it, one of the rugs being loomed was for one of our designer clients. See photos below:
Our tour of this mill included a presentation by Vicki Gilstrap, Dixie’s color professional, regarding the upcoming color trends. Vice President, Paul Cominsky, gave the group a sneak peak at brand new product that has not even be sampled. I have photos but cannot share them here at this time. Nothing beats having a lunch in the carpet inspection area!
Conclusion: all week long we heard our vendor partners speak about quality and customer service. Funny. That’s is what we tell our clients about our business and the suppliers that we work with!