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American-made rugs covering more ground

Bob Timberlake’s rugsBob Timberlake’s rugs from Shaw Living are all made in the USA. The company added to the collection recently and debuted the new rugs in Atlanta.
Flexible shipment sizes, low lead times and a consumer push to support domestic manufacturing are among key reasons that American-made rugs continue to gain a foothold in the industry.
     From creating rugs based on need to keeping warehouses stocked with the latest product, the models for reaching retailers and consumers are varied, but all are designed for nimbleness and efficiency.
     Pawtucket, R.I.-based manufacturer Colonial Mills Inc. keeps an ample supply of materials stocked in its factory, making its made-to-order business model as nimble as they come, and Creative Director Meredith Thayer said almost all of the company's orders can be completed inside of a week.
     "For a lot of companies, that's appealing to them because they can order just one and it can be drop shipped to the customer and they don't have to handle it," Thayer said.
     American-made product generally has a shorter lead time, sometimes by months. For vendors dealing with an ever-impatient consumer base, that's an important consideration.
     "If I develop a product today that's going to be made in India, it's going to be six months before I get it to the marketplace. If it's made in Troy, N.C., I can have it in the marketplace in 30 days or so," said Allen Robertson, Capel Rugs vice president of sales.
     Capel can also produce rugs to order, as it stocks countless braids in Troy. Robertson tells a story about a client in Hilton Head, S.C., who called on a Wednesday because he had forgotten to order a rug and needed one by Friday. Capel delivered the finished product with a day to spare.
     While not every U.S. rug company has a story like that, those that produce and keep product on hand can worry less about running out of inventory.
     "If you can make it here and ship it here and not ever be out of stock, that improves the whole situation," said Brandon Culpepper, Mohawk Inds. vice president of specialty sales. "It's hard to get product sometimes, and then there are delays in shipment, price increases, labor increases and uneven exchange rates. There are so many things that go into imported product."
     Even some traditional rug importers are beginning to manufacture some of their product here. Surya recently launched the indoor/outdoor Cape Cod collection that is made in the USA.
Capel RugsAfternoon Tea by Capel Rugs is braided in the company’s Troy, N.C., headquarters.

     "With tastes in home décor changing rapidly, it is important for brands to be able to react quickly to market demand. Access to U.S.-based manufacturers significantly shortens the product development cycle, making it possible to bring new styles and trends to market much sooner than is possible with overseas production," said Satya Tiwari, Surya president. "Domestic production also helps to promote job growth within local communities."
     Kim Barta, Shaw Living brand manager, said in speaking of Shaw's product, having domestic production capabilities lends itself to responding more quickly to American tastes, in addition to other factors.
     "Speaking to Shaw's American-made rugs, our rugs are designed and colored for the U.S. market," Barta said. "Our rugs are a quality product - no odor, shedding, same production standard so the rug purchased this year will match the one purchased last year. And since our rugs are made here, they are pretty much in stock with limited back order time lines if any."
     When the economy took a nosedive in 2008, it prompted a returned interest in American-made product. Mohawk, which owns Karastan, reintroduced the American Rug Craftsmen brand earlier this year as a means of highlighting its workforce and use of materials sourced in the U.S.
     "The dealers seem excited about anything they can get that is American-made," Culpepper said. "If you can add product value and on-trend color and design, it's powerful."
     Thayer said with no shortage of information available, the end consumer is doing more research about the product she brings into her home.
      "I think it's a trend about people understanding where their products are coming from and having a connection with the products they're buying. I think that's going to continue as people have more access to things now," Thayer said. "I think the end consumer is attracted to Made in the USA and supporting our country and products made here."

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