In 2015, Shaw Industries Group Inc. invested $45 million in its Lexington County carpet fiber plant, a commitment designed to bolster its nylon and polyester production capacity and an expansion that created more than 50 jobs.
That was part of $600 million, including $350 million in expansions that added 1,000 jobs throughout the U.S., that the Dalton, Ga.-headquartered company put into upgrading operations during a two-year span. Its investment in both facilities and manpower seems to have paid off, as Forbes magazine named Shaw to its 2018 list of America’s Best Employers.
“It all really centers around our culture, that we take pride in fostering an environment that continues to attract and retain the best available talent,” said Mike Fromm, Shaw chief human resources officer. “Our associates feel empowered to share their ideas and use their creativity to meet business goals.”
Shaw is no stranger to industry honors. In addition to making the Forbes list three of the last four years, it has been named a Training magazine Top Training 125 company for 14 consecutive years in a nod to the more than 1 million hours of training provided annually to associates. The company, which provides carpet, hardwood, tile and stone, laminate, synthetic turf and other specialty items for residential and commercial markets worldwide, has approximately 22,000 employees and generates more than $4 billion in annual sales, also made Selling Power magazine’s list of 50 Best Companies to Sell For in 2017.
In August 2017, Forbes asked 30,000 American employees, 82% of them full-time workers, at large firms to rate their willingness to recommend their companies on a scale of 0 to 10 in an anonymous online survey.
“Even as Shaw continues to invest in new and upgraded manufacturing facilities, we know that our most important asset is our people,” said Vance Bell, Shaw chairman and CEO, in a news release announcing the Forbes honor. “More than 22,000 passionate, talented individuals come to work every day at Shaw to produce industry-leading flooring solutions and to create a better future for their families and communities – and our customers and company.”
Shaw acquired its Lexington County plant from Honeywell International Inc. in 2005. The plant now employs about 350 workers, Fromm said, as part of Shaw’s 1,500-member workforce in seven South Carolina plants.
“We continue to invest in it and see it as an important part of our future,” said Fromm, who said more upgrades are planned for the Lexington County facility. “It’s got the largest footprint for us as far as acreage. There a lot of opportunities to continue to expand our operations there, (but) it’s not just about that. It’s about our people as well.”
The plant’s polyester extrusion operations include the use of some of the three billion plastic beverage bottles Shaw recycles annually at its Clear Path recycling facility in Fayetteville, N.C. Fiber made from the recycled plastic is used in Shaw’s residential carpet products.
“With our sustainability strategy, it’s always important to protect our environment,” Fromm said. “Anything we can do to reduce our (footprint) and provide product for our customers is important.”
Fromm said Shaw often takes part in job fairs and other community outreach in a continual search for new employees who fit into its culture of respect, inclusion and accountability.
“We’re always looking,” he said. “We do recognize our people are our competitive advantage.”