• 70°

State, industry leaders laud Shaw’s $250M investment in plant [with gallery]

A host of government and industry officials were on hand Wednesday when Shaw Industries officially celebrated its $250 million investment in its Andalusia manufacturing facility.

Plant co-manager Ron Fantroy said the new technology being installed means employees “are as safe as humanly possible,” and also gives the company an operations edge in the manufacturing of carpet fiber.

“We are basically building a brand new plant inside our existing plant,” he said. “A lot of the work has already been done, and work continues to be done.”

Related story: Local associates excited about changes

Mayor Earl Johnson called Wednesday a “Red Letter Day” in Andalusia and Covington County – his favorite description of days when good things happen.

“This investment is a result of the effort and team work of many people who have put forth tireless efforts over the course of a year,” he said.

Johnson recalled the day that Fantroy told him Shaw was thinking about investing a quarter-billion in its local plant, and asked if the city would be willing to help.

“I asked him, ‘Is this a trick question,’ ” the mayor said, adding that Southeast Gas and the Covington County Economic Development Commission “helped push this ball across the finish line.”

But, he said, the investment would not have been made if the company didn’t have excellent employees working here.

“Thank you for your hard work, 24 hours a day,” he said.

Gov. Kay Ivey expressed her appreciation to Shaw officials for choosing to be “made in Alabama.”

“In Alabama, we share with our employers a super workforce and a favorable business climate.”

“We appreciate the local leaders who have made this possible, and most importantly, our friends at Shaw for their investment in Andalusia.”

Turning to local Shaw employees attending the event, she expressed her thanks.

“It is you and your hard work that made this possible,” she said. “Thank you for your dedication to Shaw Industries and your dedication to the Made in Alabama brand.”

Commission Chairman Greg White said when he thinks of Shaw, he things of Ramona, his neighbor; Ronnie and Faye, his longtime clients; and Dominique, his coffee-drinking buddy – all Shaw employees who are among the local faces of the company.

“Their quarter-billion-dollar investment means t hey are here to stay,” White said. “Good jobs translate to good earning opportunities, and I can’t think of a better place to be in business and raise a family than here.”

White said he was thrilled the commission was able to extend a hand and help make the expansion possible.

David Morgan, executive vice president of operations for Shaw,  said the company’s vision “is always the creation of a better future, for our company, our customers, our associates, and the communities where we operate.”

To achieve that, he said, the company is constantly searching and investigating what’s next.

“The work on this innovation started more than five years ago,” he said, adding that the innovations increase safety for employees, and ensure a quality product for customers.

He said the local plant has basically completed a total reset while remaining in operation.

“I am very, very proud of you,” he said to the local associates. “It is amazing what you have continued to do. You are creating a better future for yourselves, for the company, its customers, and the community.”

The project includes construction of new and expanded building assets, and installation of substantial amounts of new manufacturing equipment.

The changes will improve efficiency and production as well as ergonomics and safety for the more than 1,000 associates who work in the plant.

Shaw Industries Group, Inc. provides carpet, resilient, hardwood, tile and stone, laminate, synthetic turf and other specialty items for residential and commercial markets worldwide. Its portfolio of brands includes Anderson Tuftex, COREtec, Patcraft, Philadelphia Commercial, Shaw Contract, Shaw Floors, Shaw Hospitality, Shaw Sports Turf, Southwest Greens, USFloors and more.

Headquartered in Dalton, Georgia, Shaw is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway with nearly $6 billion in annual revenue and representation throughout the U.S., as well as in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, India, Mexico, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.