A plastic flooring business is rising in the Carolinas, where Allied Cos. LLC has bought a manufacturing site and spent $750,000 on new equipment.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Allied has been producing and shipping its Eco-Grip-brand recycled PVC flooring from a 160,000-square-foot site in Jonesville, S.C., since early September. The new unit operating as Allied Industries International plans to add a second production shift by the end of February and will install a second extrusion line by March 31, co-owner Joel Martin said in a recent telephone interview.
Allied had been distributing a similar flooring product for another supplier since the firm's founding in 1996. Top clients include schools, hotels and restaurant chains such as Ruby Tuesday, Outback Steakhouse and Applebee's.
But Martin and co-owner Richard Neale wanted to improve the product, so in 2004 they hired a pair of polymer chemists to do so. ``The original product was a good product, but we wanted to make a version that wouldn't shrink or separate,'' Martin said.
Allied now is a totally vertical company, handling production, sales, distribution and installation, he said. It employs 12 in Jonesville but could have as many as 125 workers there in the next five years, Martin said.
The former textile plant had been vacant for three years before Allied moved in. Two patents have been filed for the new flooring product.
The current economic slowdown has changed the nature of Allied's business, but also has created opportunities, Martin said. ``There have been some years where 60 percent of our business was new flooring business, but now it's 70 percent replacement flooring,'' he said.
``Restaurants like Outback and Applebee's are a large part of our business, but they're slow right now. But fast food is really picking up. We're also seeing activity in the grocery store market for produce and meat departments and we're moving into the health-care, hospital and architectural markets.''
Allied sources its recycled PVC from brokers and supplies some on its own by shredding and grinding car seats, dashboards and other items.
Allied's distribution business had sales of $13 million in 2008. First-year sales for the flooring production unit are expected to be about $6 million, Martin said.