The popularity of large rugs in America’s upper-middle class homes has spurred the growth of Carpet Manufacturers. In the early twentieth century, sales of large rugs jumped to 83 million square yards. Bigelow-Hartford, a leader in the commercial carpet industry, flooded the market with lavish catalogs, bypassing traditional commission agents. This change has led to an explosive rise in the industry’s sales, which seem to have peaked in the early twenties.
Several factors have contributed to the growth of the carpet industry. Initially, the Dalton region was the most competitive market for new businesses. There was a lack of capital investment in tufting machinery, and specialized dyeing and finishing companies offered contract services to the manufacturers. By the mid-1960s, secondhand machines were becoming available at a lower cost. This helped lower the initial capital investment required by many small companies. In addition, secondhand machines were becoming increasingly affordable. The low barriers to entry allowed new firms to spring up and thrive. One industry leader called Dalton “the gold coast of the carpet business”.
In the mid-1960s, the industry became concentrated in Dalton. The cost of tufting machinery was cheap, and specialized dyeing and finishing companies benefited from the old bedspread industry. These new competitors had low starting costs, which reduced the capital investment for carpet production. Since the demand for carpet remained high, new firms began to sprout up and expand rapidly. By the end of the decade, per household carpet consumption was almost unchanged from the beginning of the twentieth century.
Today, the carpet industry is becoming a concentrated industry. There are hundreds of different carpet manufacturers, but they all share the same traits. The Dalton area has a strong local economy. In the 1960s, secondhand machines became widely available and affordable, lowering the startup costs. Throughout the 1960s, the Dalton market was considered to be “the gold coast” for the industry. In the 1970s, however, competition in the carpet industry slowed down.
In the late twentieth century, the carpet industry became concentrated in Dalton. As a result, tufting machinery became cheaper and the government allocated most of the production capacity to war. The industry began to look for alternative fibers and new materials and a new fiber. In the 1940s, Firth and Bigelow-Sanford introduced a wool-rayon blend. With its popularity, carpet manufacturing began to grow again.
By the 1960s, the tufted carpet industry was the fourth-fastest growing industry in the United States. After aircraft, television picture tubes, and computers, the tufted carpet industry grew steadily. According to Robert Shaw, the company’s former CEO, the booming textile industry was the “gold coast” of the Dalton area in the 1960s. The lack of control and the lack of regulations facilitated growth. The low entry barriers allowed new firms to open in the market and prosper.