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

New York Manufacturing Improves at Slower Pace   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 15, 2014 -- The Empire State manufacturing survey fell back to 14.7 in August after hitting a four-year high of 25.6 in July.

Consumer Sentiment Falls in Early August   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 15, 2014 -- The preliminary August reading on the University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer-sentiment index fell to 79.2 from a final July result of 81.8.

Investors Wondering About Firm's Stake in Armstrong   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 15, 2014 -- Flooring industry analyst Stifel Nicolaus says talk is heating among its clients up that Armstrong World Industries could be broken into separate entities.

Office Environments Acquires Flooring Firm   Full Article
Charlotte, NC, Aug. 15, 2014 -- Office Environments, a Charlotte based commercial furniture dealer, said it has acquired Modular Designs, a flooring firm also based in Charlotte.

FCICA Continuing Diamond Member Club   Full Article
West Bloomfield, MI, Aug. 15, 2014 -- FCICA, the Flooring Contractors Association, said it will continue its Diamond Club member program for the 2014-2015 membership year.

Housing Affordability Declines in Second Quarter   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 15, 2014 -- Nationwide housing affordability dipped in the second quarter as several markets saw a firming of home prices, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Georgia Unemployment Grows but Dalton Layoffs Fall   Full Article
Atlanta, GA, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Unemployment in Georgia in July rose to the highest rate since last October, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

Initial Jobless Claims Rise Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose 21,000 to 311,000 in the week the ended Aug. 9, according to the Labor Department.

Higher Downpayments Hitting First-Time Home Buyers   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Growing requirements for downpayments are shutting many first time buyers out of the housing market, Bloomberg News reports.

Tarkett Contest Features Commercial Flooring   Full Article
Chagrin Falls, OH, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Tarkett has launched a WeLikeItNatural Creative Contest featuring its commercial vinyl flooring.

Retail Sales Flat in July   Full Article
Retail Sales were flat in July as car demand slowed and consumers remained cautious in their spending. This is the weakest performance in six months.

Mortgage Application Volume Down Last Week   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume fell last week as both purchase and refinancing applications declined, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Valinge Awarded Another U.S. Patent   Full Article
Viken, Sweden, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Valinge said it has been awarded a U.S. patents regarding mechanical locking of LVT/resilient floorboards.

Another Investment Firm Discloses Armstrong Position   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Another investment firm has disclosed a large position in the shares of Armstrong World Industries.

Home Price Increases Continue To Moderate   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 12, 2014 -- Home-price growth continued to moderate in many metropolitan areas in the second quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Domotex Turkey 2015 Set for May   Full Article
Hannover, Germany, Aug. 12, 2014 -- The dates for Domotex Turkey 2015 are May 25-28 at the Turkish carpet trading capital, Gaziantep.

Job Openings Edge Higher in June   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 12, 2014 -- Job openings increased to 4.67 million in June, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ceramic Tile Standards Subject of Gathering in SC   Full Article
Clemson, SC, Aug. 12, 2014 -- International trade and standards for ceramic tile were the focus of discussions as delegates from 15 countries met in Clemson to develop new standards.

Propex Marks 50th Anniversary of Polybac   Full Article
Hazlehurst, GA, Aug. 11, 2014 -- Propex recently celebrated a significant milestone for the carpet industry at its Hazlehurst manufacturing facility.

Realtors Applaud FICO Calculation Changes   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 11, 2014 -- The National Association of Realtors said it supports the decision of Fair Issac to make some changes related to how it calculates FICO credit scores.