Mullican Boosts U.S. Production - July 2013

Mullican Boosts U.S. Production

By Kemp Harr

 

Nestled between the Clinch and Holston ranges of the Appalachian Mountains, Johnson City, Tennessee is one of the most breathtaking areas of the country. Much of the landscape is undisturbed, the natural hardwood forests are abundant, and the air is crisp and clear. 

This is where Mullican Flooring, the fourth largest domestic hardwood flooring producer, established its headquarters in 2000 and where it recently completed a $14 million upgrade and expansion of its largest manufacturing facility, by moving it into a repurposed 309,000 square foot factory. Expansions and upgrades are always positive news for this industry, but the biggest news is Mullican’s decision to move the bulk of its engineered hardwood production from Asia to this new facility in East Tennessee. Not only does this decision allow the company to print Made in the U.S.A. on more of its boxes and, yes, put more Americans to work, but it also enables Mullican to get better quality, shorter lead times and a lower cost of goods.

When Mullican first entered the flooring business in 1985, its focus was strictly unfinished solid hardwood. But, by keeping close to its customers, Mullican followed the industry trend, first toward prefinished and then toward engineered. In addition to Johnson City, Mullican also operates plants in Norton, Virginia; Ronceverte, West Virginia; and Holland, New York. The firm, which sells through distribution and has estimated annual sales of $115 million, is led by Neil Poland, who has spent his entire career in hardwood flooring, previously with Harris Tarkett, which was also located in Johnson City.

Mullican’s ability to make its 3/8” engineered hardwood more cost efficiently in the U.S. than in Asia may come as a surprise to many. The company achieves this through sophisticated material handling and cutting equipment, coupled with reduced transportation costs and regionally sourced raw materials. The factory employs 10% of the labor that is needed to make the same product in Asia; the process is cutting-edge and highly mechanized. In total, the plant, which has the highest throughput of any engineered hardwood flooring production facility in the U.S., employs 250 people. In addition, Mullican procures its raw materials from the surounding Appalachian Mountains and makes the entire product in-house, including the plywood core. It also helps that, in the last five years, wages in many parts of Asia have doubled, so labor costs there aren’t as low as they once were. 

Says company president Poland, “We believe we’re on the leading edge of a trend by U.S. manufacturers to shift jobs back to American soil. The high quality workforce available in the Johnson City area has made the expansion of our production line a reality.” Mullican, it seems, is on the right course; according to USA Today, in 2012, 62% of American consumers said that U.S.-made was the most influential attribute with regard to their new purchases. That is up from 2008, when only 48% of Americans valued domestic production over all else. Mullican’s high commitment to this country extends to its own buying; with the exception of one piece of equipment, the profile saw, all equipment in the new factory was produced on U.S. soil.

Copyright 2013 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Previous Record Low Rates Hurting Home Sales   Full Article
New York, NY, July 11, 2014 -- Low interest rates are keeping some people from selling their homes, which is limiting supply and putting a damper on the housing recovery.

Metroflor's Aspecta Wins Award   Full Article
Norwalk, CT, July 11 -- Metroflor said that its new LVT contract brand, Aspecta, was acknowledged by the Product Innovations 2014 awards bestowed by Buildings magazine to a group of 30 finalists exclusive to NeoCon exhibitors.

Buchanan Hardwoods Gets NWFA Certification   Full Article
St. Louis, MO, July 11, 2014 -- The National Wood Flooring Association said that Buchanan Hardwoods, of Aliceville, Alabama, has earned the NWFA/NOFMA Mill Certification for its Elite Flooring.

Business Economists See Improving Economy   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 11, 2014 -- Business economists have lowered their expectations for second quarter growth but don't believe a recession will occur anytime soon.

Initial Jobless Claims Beat Expectations   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 10, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell 3.5% to 304,000 for the week ending July 5, according to the Labor Department.

McGrane Named Executive VP at Max Windsor   Full Article
Adairsville, GA, July 10, 2014 -- Joshua McGrane ?has been named executive vice president? of ?Max Windsor USA.

Tile of Spain Seeking Design Contest Entries   Full Article
Madrid, Spain, July 10, 2014 -- The 13th Tile of Spain Awards of Architecture and Interior Design is seeking entries.

Lumber Liquidators Lowers Forecast, Stock Plunges   Full Article
New York, NY, July 10, 2014 -- Shares of Lumber Liquidators fell as much as 15% in after-hours trading on Wednesday after the company lowered guidance for the full year 2014.

Soniclean Partners With Shaw on Soft Carpet Vacuum   Full Article
New York, NY, July 10, 2014 -- Soniclean said it has partnered with Shaw Industries to address the growing demand for a vacuum cleaner capable of cleaning soft style carpeting.

Teragren Names Vice President of Sales   Full Article
Bainbridge Island, WA, July 10, 2014 -- Teragren has named Mark Jordan vice president of sales.

Dixie Group Added to Russell Stock Indexes   Full Article
Chattanooga, TN, July 10, 2014 -- The Dixie Group said it was added to the Russell 3000 Index and Russell 2000 Index when Russell Investments reconstituted its comprehensive set of U.S. and global equity indexes on June 27.

Congoleum Closing New Jersey Warehouse   Full Article
Hamilton Township, NJ, July 10, 2014 -- The Congoleum flooring warehouse here will cease operations later this year.

CRI Posts Model Specification for Commercial Carpet   Full Article
Dalton, GA, July 9, 2014 -- The Carpet and Rug Institute said its Model Specification for Commercial Carpet is now available online at Carpet-Rug.org.

Bamboo Hardwoods Names Flooring Sales Director   Full Article
Seattle, WA, July 9, 2014 -- Bamboo Hardwoods has named Bruce Boulden as the company’s national flooring sales director.

Mortgage Application Volume Increases Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 9, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume rose last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Ardex Academy Sets Training Dates   Full Article
Aliquippa, PA, July 9, 2014 -- Ardex Academy offers free classroom and hands-on product installation training at eight locations throughout North America. Participants learn substrate preparation and the newest installation techniques.

Judge Ends Laminate Copyright Dispute between Home Legend and Mannington   Full Article
Rome, GA July 3, 2014 -- A U.S. District Court in Rome, Georgia ruled in favor of Home Legend in a legal dispute over similar looking laminate floorcovering. The judge ruled nature can't be copyrighted.

Job Openings at Highest Level Since 2007   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 8, 2014 -- Job openings in the U.S. rose in April to the highest level since September 2007, according to the Labor Department.

CARE Seeking Proposals for PET Market Project   Full Article
Dalton, GA, July 8, 2014 -- Carpet America Recovery Effort is seeking proposals for a 12-18 month project to demonstrate value-added uses for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) derived from post-consumer PET carpets.

Quick-Step Hosts Event for Shelter Charity   Full Article
Dallas, TX, July 8, 2014 -- Laminate maker Quick-Step recently co-hosted an event to benefit the local charity Dwell With Dignity.