By Keenan Willard
Mohawk Industries has committed to investing $10 million into its carpet manufacturing plant in Glasgow, the largest private employer in the county, allaying fears that the plant might downsize or leave, according to Rockbridge County officials.
County administrators say that they received notice of the upcoming investment from Mohawk’s Georgia headquarters in early November. While no official press release has been issued by either party, and no one could be reached for comment at the plant or Georgia headquarters, word of the arrangement has been circulating among the plant’s 700 employees for weeks.
“We’re currently drafting a performance agreement that would bring 15 new jobs to the county,” Rockbridge County Director of Community Development Sam Crickenberger said.
The manufacturing plant’s main export is carpet tiles, two-square-foot swatches of fabric whose portability makes the process of carpeting a high-rise office much easier than when it is done with traditional rolls of carpet.
The facility, which sits on 37 of its 110 total acres, has been capable of performing every facet of the production of carpet tiles except for one, the rubber or plastic extruded backing that sits underneath the layer of carpet. The plant has outsourced the production of that backing to other manufacturers.
Mohawk Industries refers to plants that are able to complete every step of carpet tile production in-house as “four-walled facilities.” A Virginia public TV feature called “Made in Virginia: Mohawk Industries” that aired in the state in October hinted at the Glasgow plant becoming such a facility.
In addition to the employment opportunities, Mohawk contributes to Rockbridge County in other ways. The plant recycles millions of plastic bottles annually in the production of its carpet tiles, conserving the amount of energy and money the county would otherwise have to devote to recycling those bottles.
“We’re currently drafting a performance agreement that would bring 15 new jobs to the county.” -Sam Crickenberger, Rockbridge County Director of Community Development
“There’s so much potential with our Glasgow associates to take it to the next level,” Michael Vermette, the president of Mohawk Industries, said during the program. “You’ll see more investment for sure, and you will also see expansion most likely in the facility.”
Rockbridge County administrators say that the most important outcome of the investment is a sense of security in Mohawk’s commitment to remaining in Glasgow.
“Leaving is always one of those things you worry about when they employ so many people. The question of if they did leave, what would happen to Glasgow,” Crickenberger said of the plant. “This for us solidifies that Mohawk is here to stay.”