EDEN — Mohawk Industries announced earlier this week that it will cease local Karastan rug production in October as part of a consolidation of rug operations.

The transition will shift the Eden plant’s focus fully to producing high-end commercial, aviation and residential carpet.

Karastan rug production will integrate into Mohawk’s Georgia rug operations, according to a news release.

Company officials said that the Eden plant employs approximately 200 people and that “many of the rug employees will transfer to the plant’s other operations.”

About 20 rug employees will either retire or look for other positions at other companies.

Mohawk’s human resources team will provide help in finding other opportunities in the area for those out of jobs.

Eden Economic Director Mike Dougherty told RockinghamNow that the city will also provide assistance for any displaced workers looking for other employment and that many staffing agencies and Goodwill Industries are ready to help as well.

“Any time people lose jobs, it hurts the community in multiple ways,” said Dougherty, commenting on the economic effect the announcement will have on the city. “However, there will be other jobs in the plant available for some of the workers. The city is working on a project now that we hope will add more jobs very soon, so some of the displaced workers can have other opportunities. Both KDH Defense Systems and Gildan are currently hiring.”

Mohawk’s Eden facility and the Karastan brand were established in 1928 by Marshall Field in an effort to manufacture rugs for his department store chain.

Over time, sales expanded to other retailers as part of the Fieldcrest family of products. In 1986, Fieldcrest acquired carpet-maker Bigelow Sanford, who sold its rug and carpet business and the Karastan brand to Mohawk in 1993.

Despite the consolidation, Mohawk officials said they see a bright future locally and are glad to be part of the Eden community.

“Over the past 90 years, Eden’s legacy has been shaped by extraordinary people,” said Mohawk Vice President for Human Services Rod Wedemeier. “The talent and dedication of our employees here are unsurpassed, with many spending their entire careers in Eden.”

In 2015, Mohawk expanded manufacturing at their Eden facility — increasing the local work base by investing in the commercial and aviation carpet industry.

Mowhawk, who produces most of North America’s commercial aircraft carpet, built up its commercial carpet sector locally by installing new equipment to meet demand.

“Mohawk is the leader in the aviation carpet sector and our high-end commercial products set the industry standard for style and performance,” said Mohawk Commercial President Mike Gallam in a news release. “Through the unique combination of technology and talent at our Eden facility, we are delivering exceptional carpet collections for our aviation business and all commercial channels.”

Gallam said that the business, which supplies new and replacement carpet for most carriers, is growing thanks to the quality craftsmanship of the people at the Eden facility.

“It’s amazing to consider that whenever you take a flight, the carpet you’re walking on was probably produced here in our community,” Gallam said.

While commercial success has played a key role in the Mohawk local growth, the Karastan rug is embedded and celebrated in Eden’s longstanding history.

Earlier this month, city officials and local artist Teresa Phillips unveiled a tile mosaic of the Karastan 717 rug. The 37,000 piece replica took months and hundreds of hours to complete.

Dougherty said that while it’s very unfortunate that rug production will cease considering its long and storied history, it’s not surprising.

“For several years, sales have suffered as consumer tastes have changed,” Dougherty said. “Just as craft beer negatively affected MillerCoors, the rise of alternative and less expensive rug choices negatively affected Karastan. We are grateful to those Karastan workers for giving us a public art project that will be a testament to their dedicated craftsmanship.”

Eden’s director of economic development added that it’s important for those workers to know that the city and community appreciated their dedication to produce a local quality product over the last 90 years.

“Karastsan is a critical Eden industry that makes quality products in the residential, commercial and aviation markets,” Dougherty said. “The city was pleased to fund the mosaic that honors the efforts of Karastan workers over the years. Their craftsmanship will be remembered for years to come.”

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Joe Dexter is a staff writer for RockinghamNow. He can be reached at 336-349-4331 ext. 6139 or @JoeDexter_RCN on Twitter.

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