Shaw Industries announced yesterday that it would be dipping its toe into the water of a new segment: specifically, the marine market. This means that Shaw, looking to expand its business, will soon offer a special range of flooring for use in boats and other nautical craft. According to Fred Thomas, Shaw Marine's marketing manager, the new business has its roots in the purchase of the Dixie Group's Carriage Carpets division about five years ago.

"Years ago, Carriage used to make marine carpet," explains Thomas, who was also formerly the marine manager for Carriage. "Carriage was the OEM division of the Dixie Group, and we manufactured carpets for the manufactured/modular housing business [mobile homes and RVs] and other areas, including marine." Similarly, Thomas says that Shaw's Marine division will be marketed specifically to the OEM side of the business. "Our carpet and flooring is geared toward boat manufacturers. It won't be something the traditional Shaw retailers are going to sell down the street," he says.

He acknowledges that the soft economic climate was partly the impetus for Shaw entering this new area. But, he adds, launching a new division also meant that any products in the line would have to pass Shaw's smell test. Namely, the products would have to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

"Now, obviously, polypropylene yarn is not a recycled product," Thomas says. "But the backing (made from Dow technology) on Shaw Marine carpet does contain post-industrial content. Our marine division will also be offering some other Shaw products, such as Epic engineered hardwood flooring, and laminate flooring, which are very Green."

The product line will officially launch at the International Boatbuilders' Exhibition and Conference, Oct. 6-8 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.