The company, said James Lesslie of Engineered Floors, is committed to adding capacity to maintain 50 percent of the growth in polyester carpet, he told FCW during a plant tour last month. “There is no other site near the polyester capacity of this site,” he said. It is also expected to eventually double the company’s own output.
The plant is nothing short of impressive. At the moment, it stands at about 850,000 square feet — same size as the Dalton plant. But by the end of the year, according to Lesslie, it will be roughly 1.2 million square feet. When it is completed, it will cover more than 2.5 million square feet. The full property here is some 300 acres of land. The total investment in the planned expansion for Engineered Floors is $450 million.
“This plant is important. We are really building this plant for 2014 and 2015 growth. We are starting up this year but this plant is really designed to handle growth,” explained Lesslie. “We have to plan 24 months in advance when we do capacity expansion. This plant will have four phases of expansion over four years.”
Engineered Floors worked closely with the State to make this all happen. First, said Lesslie, it was about finding the right property. “There was a lot of back and forth,” he said. Then there was some heavy lifting like moving a road 500 feet to accommodate the floor plan of the building which is designed to receive incoming items like raw materials on the north end while outgoing is located on the south end.
Another important element is the railroad that runs adjacent to the property. It will eventually have rail siding to enable the company to receive raw materials directly from the rail siding eliminating the energy required with trucking. That will likely happen late in 2015, according to the company.
Not only will the facility create new jobs in the county, Lesslie pointed out, “It’s hard to quantify all the jobs created during construction.” Construction is being performed by a local contractor which adds more jobs to the local economy.
The plant itself, known as SAM after a family dog, is a study in efficiency. According to Joe Young, there was less waste on the first machine up and running here than the average of all the others. Young is grandson to Bob Shaw and working in the manufacturing area while his twin brother works in sales. They’ve been watching and participating in the company’s birth and expansion.
The facility will have three extrusion towers, twisters, heat setters, tufting machines and a distribution center. “This plant is state of the art, more modern and energy efficient than existing carpet facilities,” said Lesslie. For example, because the company produces 100 percent solution dyed carpet, the whole carpet dying process is eliminated giving the company energy and water savings.
Everything is in a linear layout so that the process is streamlined from extrusion on down to distribution. And, added Lesslie, “Our quality is six times better than traditional quality levels in the carpet industry. Our facilities are part of our selling story.”
The plant will be fully operational this month but in all, it is a “phase up” production plan that will complete with the last set of machines in the first phase running in September.
Joe Young and James Lesslie of Engineered Floors