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Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 2:33pm

Flooring Business Grows Despite Industry Struggle

One of the world’s largest flooring companies doubled its 4th quarter earnings. Mohawk Flooring’s success is a needed boost for a struggling Georgia industry.

Thousands of jobs in northwest Georgia have disappeared since late 2006 when the flooring industry started to collapse alongside the housing market.

Northwest Georgia is home to hundreds of flooring companies hit hard by the recession. Flooring was worth nearly 26 billion in 2006. By 2009, it was down to just over 17 billion.

So Dalton-based Mohawk Flooring’s announcement this week that 4th quarter earnings jumped 130% to $46 million is breathing hope into this region devastated by unemployment.

Still, Kimberly Gavin with Floor Covering Weekly, says the number of Georgia’s flooring jobs won’t return to pre-recession levels:
“Some of those will come back as business comes back but a lot of them are gone forever as manufacturers found ways to be more efficient, do things better."

Dalton, Whitfield and Murray Counties lost 2,300 jobs last year.

Despite stronger earnings, high oil prices could stand in the way of companies looking to grow again.

Gavin says 5 to 10% price hikes take effect this month industry-wide. And problems in the Middle East could push costs higher:
“It’s putting even more pressure on oil prices so it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw another one at some point.”
The flooring industry depends heavily on chemicals derived from petroleum.