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

Wholesale Prices Flat in August   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 16, 2014 -- Wholesale prices in August were flat due to declining gasoline and food costs, according to the Labor Department.

Demand for LEED Credentials Rising, Study Shows   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 16, 2014 -- The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) said a study of job postings reveals that demand for the LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) and LEED Green Associate credentials grew 46% over a year.

WFCA Seeking Hall of Fame Nominations   Full Article
Anaheim, CA, Sept. 16, 2014 -- The World Floor Covering Association is accepting applications for nominations to the Floor Covering Industry Hall of Fame.

CBC Flooring Signs Southwest Distributor   Full Article
Commack, NY, Sept. 16, 2014 -- CBC Flooring has formed a distribution agreement with Sustainable Surfaces to handle its products in Southern California and Las Vegas.

Five Trade Shows Form Design & Construction Week   Full Article
Las Vegas, NV, Sept. 16, 2014 -- Five of the leading design and construction industry tradeshows have signed on to be part of the 2015 Design & Construction Week to create what is likely to be the largest-ever residential construction exposition.

Scott Group Acquires Hokanson Carpets   Full Article
Grand Rapids, MI, Sept. 15, 2014 -- Michigan-based Scott Group Custom Carpets said it has acquired Texas-based Hokanson Carpets.

New York Manufacturing Improves at Faster Rate   Full Article
New York, NY, Sept. 15, 2014 -- Manufacturing conditions in the New York area improved at the fastest rate since October 2009 in September, according to the New York Fed.

Inmates Learn Concrete Polishing in Jail   Full Article
Madisonville, KY, Sept. 15, 2014 -- Hopkins County Jail was looking for a solution to replace tiles throughout the facility when head jailer Joe Blue decided polished concrete was a viable option.

Housing Not Adequate for Wave of Boomers   Full Article
Cambridge, MA, Sept. 15, 2014 -- America’s older population is in the midst of unprecedented growth, but the country is not prepared to meet the housing needs of this aging group, concludes a new Harvard report.

Domotex Asia Set for March 24-26   Full Article
Shanghai, China, Sept. 12, 2014 -- Domotex Asia/Chinafloor will be held March 24-26 in Shanghai.

Retail Sales Increase Broadly in August   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 12, 2014 -- U.S. retail sales rose 0.6% in August, as consumer bought automobiles and a variety of other goods, according to the Commerce Department.

Consumer Sentiment Highest in More Than a Year   Full Article
Ann Arbor, MI, Sept. 12, 2014 -- U.S. consumer sentiment rose in September to its highest level in more than a year, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index.

Greenberg Fund Awards Two Scholarships   Full Article
Manchester, NH, Sept. 12, 2014 -- CCA Global Partners has announced the recipients of two $5,000 scholarships through the Alan Greenberg Scholarship Fund.

Dover Rug & Home Opens Boston Showroom   Full Article
Boston, MA, Sept. 12, 2014 -- Dover Rug & Home has opened a second location in Boston in the Back Bay.

Armstrong Headquarters Gets LEED Recertification   Full Article
Lancaster, PA, Sept. 11, 2014 -- Armstrong World Industries said its corporate headquarters building has been awarded LEED Platinum recertification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Shaw Contract Names Winners of Design Contest   Full Article
Cartersville, GA, Sept. 11, 2014 -- Shaw Contract Group announced the winners of its annual Design is… competition.

Initial Unemployment Claims Rise Last week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 11, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to 315,000 last week, up from the previous week's revised total of 304,000, according to the Labor Department.

Dal-Tile Holding Groundbreaking for Tennessee Plant   Full Article
Dickson, TN, Sept. 11, 2014 -- Dal-Tile is scheduled to hold an invitation-only groundbreaking ceremony this afternoon for its new $180 million plant in Dickson County, according to the Tennessean newspaper.

Foreclosures Edge Higher in August   Full Article
Irvine, CA, Sept. 11, 2014 -- Foreclosures rose in August the first time in nearly four years, according to tracking firm RealtyTrac.

CFI Presents Awards at Annual Meeting   Full Article
Kansas City, MO, Sept. 11, 2014 -- The Certified Floorcovering Installers recently presented awards at its annual convention.