I had the opportunity yesterday to spend some time in Dalton and nearby Calhoun, Ga. For those who haven't been to the area (and for those who have), I can put it succinctly: you can't drive very far through town without seeing a flooring plant rising through the trees. In fact, in most cases rival flooring companies are next door neighbors. It's a great reminder that, while members of the industry routinely compete for business and market share, we're also all in this together.
One flooring company representative put it this way: "Everyone knows everyone in Dalton. Families work together, or work at different companies in the same industry. By the time we all sit down to dinner, we know what went on that day."
It's a close-knit community. And while there is obviously competition with so many companies stacked so closely together, there is also an indisputable sense of pride, and family. When you walk into the lobbies of many of the major flooring companies, you'll more likely than not encounter glass-encased exhibits of old loom technologies that the companies' founders (and family members) helped invent -- or sepia-toned photographs of mill workers creating some of Georgia's first carpets.
If you haven't been to Dalton before, I urge you to go for a visit. Of course, Dalton isn't the only town in America that centers its business around flooring. But it is unique in how palapably both the past and the present co-exist there. It's an attitude, and a legacy, that helps create the products we walk on every day.- Michael Chmielecki