Novalis’ USA Plant: Novalis’ decision to open an LVT factory in Georgia is already proving to be a wise one - February 2023

By Kemp Harr

It’s no secret that the LVT product category was developed and refined in Asia. The realistic visuals that allow it to successfully imitate wood and stone and offer consumers a less costly flooring with a low-maintenance profile has catapulted the LVT category to revenue levels rivaling carpet’s.

Three years ago last month, Novalis-one of the top five global producers of LVT-announced plans to build a factory in Dalton, Georgia. The firm had ordered SPC production equipment for an expansion of its massive Shanghai factory but decided it would be smart to divert that equipment to a U.S. factory-especially in light of the 25% Section 301 tariffs on China-produced LVT. But another equally important motivation for a domestic factory was to get closer to Novalis’ customer base, since Americans consume the majority of the firm’s global output.

Little did John and CC Wu-the siblings who manage this second-generation, family-owned business-know that the global pandemic was on the horizon when they made the decision to diversify Novalis’ manufacturing base in January 2020.

The Wus knew they needed to expand their SPC capacity, since it was the fastest-growing subsector in the LVT category, and, as luck would have it, the SPC method of manufacturing is more conducive to automation, which is a must if your U.S.-made products are to be competitive in a global market. According to John Wu, “Our finishing line in Dalton is fully automated from slabs to packaged and palleted finished goods. This required a bigger investment up front but reduced our throughput labor costs. It does, however, mean that our workers are technicians and not laborers.”

Most of the products manufactured at this facility are commercially rated and produced in upscale, larger formats (7”x 48”, 9”x60”, 12”x 24”) with a painted bevel.

The original plan, when the Wus decided to move some production to the U.S., was to build a plant from scratch, but for sustainability reasons, they decided to repurpose a vacant building and bring it back to a useful life. In addition, they chose northwest Georgia because, as share has shifted away from carpet, there is a talented pool of factory workers who understand the flooring industry and are looking for jobs in the area.

Opening this U.S. factory proved to be a wise decision when the post-Covid surge in demand caused container freight rates to spike to ten times their normal rates, and lead times for product availability were extended to upwards of six months. The Made in USA label seems to be a deciding factor for the firm’s Ava commercial customers, who also appreciate the shorter lead times. This allowed Novalis to pick up some of Armstrong’s commercial business when the company closed its doors due to bankruptcy.

All of Novalis’ raw materials are domestically sourced, with the exception of its print films and wearlayers, and the firm is weighing the decision to add a digital print line.

Location: Dalton, Georgia
Building size: 200,000 square feet
Investment: $30 million
Employees: 110 production workers with 50 support personnel for U.S. business
Production Capacity: 50 million square feet per year
Product Focus: SPC
Novelty: Novalis is the second Asian LVT producer to build a domestic facility.

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Related Topics:Novalis Innovative Flooring, Armstrong Flooring