Graders have started clearing and smoothing out the 117 acres where the plant will sit on Ga. Highway 140. A concrete pad that once marked the site of a Florida Tile plant is now a pile of rubble.
“We started clearing the land a couple of weeks ago. We have contractors on site to begin grading. It’s a rather large site, 117-plus acres, and so that’s going to take some time,” said James Jarrett, group director of contract manufacturing. “There are some soil issues, but we’ve been through the engineering analysis and dealt with those. So we have a game plan to deal with that. It’s the kind of thing that happens to almost any site of that size. You’re going to end up hitting some kind of soil issue along the way.”
The soil issue, Jarrett explained, was a plastic layer down underneath the soil. He said Shaw has to do remediation at the site to address the issue, but it would not affect the company’s plans moving forward.
Construction on the facility itself will not happen until next year, as Shaw intends to grade and prepare the entire site.
“What we will do is — the other thing we’ve tried to do here is start this work far enough in advance so we can move through it at an efficient pace. Grading the whole site, even though the first phase won’t take up the entire site, we in essence have to develop pretty much the entire site at the beginning because the first phase is at the front of the property. So we’re probably talking six months worth of site preparation, stabilization,” Jarrett said. “We have a rail siding and rail sidings take a long time to get both approved and installed. ... [There’s] a lot of work up front, getting a site ready and then based on weather and other conditions we’ll pick a time when we’ll actually start the vertical.”
In addition to developing the site, Shaw also is in the process of designing and acquiring new production machinery. Jarrett said the company was drawing on the experience of opening and equipping a new plant in China, for that market, as it plans to outfit the Adairsville facility.
“A lot of this equipment takes 12 months or longer to get. ... We’re still on the same time frame, basically 18 to 24 months to build and installation time frame for startup,” he said. “ ... That’s one of the ways in which we have become the leader in our industry. We are committed to great design with our product that we make. We’re also committed to great design when it comes to our facilities, our equipment, our processes. We’re committed to sustainability. You can’t do it the same way tomorrow as you did today and be as competitive. We’re always looking out to make sure that we’re becoming more sustainable and that we remain competitive.”
At the moment there is no time frame for when hiring will begin. However, Jarrett did believe Shaw may hire technical and leadership employees in advance and train them in other facilities.
The Adairsville plant is expected to create up to 500 jobs over a five-year period, as stated during the Aug. 29, 2013 announcement. The plant will produce carpet tiles in order to serve what Jarrett described as a growing market for commercial flooring.
“It has been taking over more of the market from the wider width broadloom carpet through the years,” he said. “It continues to do that and most new installation now is going in with that. It’s continuing to grow both as the market grows and also within the market.”