Title

Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry

Department

History & Philosophy

Document Type

Book

Publication Date

1999

Abstract

After World War II, the carpet industry came to be identified with the Dalton region of northwest Georgia. Here, entrepreneurs hit upon a new technology called tufting, which enabled them to take control of this important segment of America’s textile industry, previously dominated by woven-wool carpet manufacturers in the Northeast. Dalton now dominates carpet production in the United States, manufacturing 70 percent of the domestic product, and prides itself as the carpet capital of the world.

Carpet Capital is a story of revolutionary changes that transformed both an industry and a region. Its balanced and candid account details the rise of a home-grown southern industry and entrepreneurial capitalism at a time when other southern state and local governments sought to attract capital and technology from outside the region.

The book summarizes the development of the American carpet industry from the early nineteenth century through the 1930s. In describing the tufted carpet boom, it focuses on Barwick Mills, Galaxy Mills, and Shaw Industries as representative of various phases in the industry’s history. It tells how owners coordinated efforts to keep carpet mills unorganized, despite efforts of the Textile Workers Union of America, by promoting a vision of the future based on individual ambition rather than collective security.

Randall L. Patton and David B. Parker show that Dalton has evolved in much the same way as California’s Silicon Valley, experiencing both a rapid expansion of new firms started by entrepreneurs who had apprenticed in older firms and an air of cooperation both among owners and between mills and local government. Their close examination of this industry provides important insights for scholars and business leaders alike, enhancing our appreciation of entrepreneurial achievement and broadening our understanding of economic growth in the modern South.