A second Chinese maker of luxury vinyl tile is investing in U.S. manufacturing in the flooring manufacturing center of northwest Georgia.
Novalis Innovative Flooring, based in Hong Kong, is investing $30 million to renovate a 200,000-square-foot building for its first U.S. factory in Dalton. Ga. The plant will employ at least 120 people, according to a Jan. 24 announcement from the company and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
The plant will be located next to Novalis' newly opened North American headquarters and innovation center in Dalton. Production of the rigid-core LVT is expected to begin in the third quarter of this year.
Novalis started in Hong Kong in 1984 and began shipping flooring to the United States in 1988. It also runs a warehouse in Mooresville, N.C., as well as one in Georgia. The company sells its products to more than 50 countries.
Luxury vinyl tile is a fast-growing flooring product. It resembles wood but is not damaged by water, so LVT has won inroads especially in areas like kitchens, bathrooms and basements.
Late last year, another China-based company, GreenView Floors International Inc., said it was investing $26 million to renovate a vacant manufacturing site in Adairsville, Ga. That plant will create 238 jobs. GreenView is a subsidiary of Nanjing MGM New Material Co. Ltd., which makes LVT and other types of flooring, including wood-plastic composites, wood-stone composites and laminates.
Adairsville is about 30 miles south of Dalton along I-75 in northwestern Georgia. Major U.S. flooring manufacturer Mohawk Industries Inc. is based in Calhoun, halfway between those two cities.
Novalis President and CEO John Wu said U.S. manufacturing helps get the company closer to customers, regardless of any trade policies that involving LVT.
"Novalis has had U.S. manufacturing in mind for years and [we] feel that despite the tariff exception, now is the right time to open manufacturing in the U.S. We pride ourselves as being a global company and are excited to take this next step to include manufacturing at a global level," Kimberly Hill, director of marketing and creative design at the company in Dalton, said in an email.
Luxury vinyl tile made news in the U.S.-China trade war in November when the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that it was temporarily lifting 25 percent tariffs on some categories of LVT, with an exemption order that expires in August 2020. The U.S. government originally placed the tariffs in September of 2018.
Mohawk, for instance, was one U.S. flooring maker than company that called for the tariffs on imported LVT, arguing in hearings that the duties would boost American manufacturing. A Mohawk executive said at the time that imports from Asia, mostly from China, make up 55-70 percent of the U.S. market for luxury vinyl tile.
Importers contended that tariffs would depress demand and raise prices for U.S. consumers.
"Our decision to open manufacturing in Dalton is reflective of the journey of our brand and our commitment to be closely connected to our customers," Wu said in a news release. "This new location enables us to better service our customers while also helping to grow and support a community rich in the history of flooring manufacturing."