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Order writing up in Atlanta's rug showrooms

Attendees discuss positive momentum at market

A display telling about Mohawk Inds.’ Performance Fibers was a big part of the product story for Karastan and American Rug Craftsmen.A display telling about Mohawk Inds.’ Performance Fibers was a big part of the product story for Karastan and American Rug Craftsmen.
ATLANTA - While in recent years, markets have become as much about showing product as a venue for writing orders, vendors at the Atlanta International Area Rug Market reported that pens were hitting paper.

A number of manufacturers reported that buyers who visited their showrooms came with the intent of solidifying plans for early 2014.

"This has been the best show we've had in five or six years," said Brandon Culpepper, vice president of specialty sales for Mohawk Inds., parent company of American Rug Craftsmen and Karastan. "We had 11 new collections and a lot of it was tied into the Performance Fiber initiative we've got going on. It relayed some new price points into Karastan and some stories of how fiber can help product and give it some attributes that are different from your standard nylon, your standard wool, and then with American Rug Craftsmen, your standard polypropylene. I think that generated some excitement."

Culpepper said generally, companies can tell how their plans will play out based on how buyers react to their offerings.

"You see your key customers; the people who are serious about rugs come to Atlanta. The way they react to what you're trying to put into the market tells you what you can expect," Culpepper said.

Greg Jordt, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Harounian Rugs International, said retailers in Atlanta showed a renewed sense of confidence.

"It seems everybody is talking upbeat - not only the other suppliers and sources I've talked to, but also the retailers seem upbeat. That's the most important thing," Jordt said. "We got more paper this market than we got last January. Buyers were leaving orders. In the past, it was no taking; we'll get back to you with an order.

There's always a lot of follow-up after market, but for this particular market, there was an uptick in orders."
Kas created plenty of buzz Atlanta with a new showroom, its new pillow and pouf initiative and the announcement of licensed partners Bob Mackie and Donny Osmond Home.

Santhi Yarlagadda, vice president of business development, felt Kas' positive momentum catapulted it to a great market.

"It's been great. It's a good opportunity to move into a new space. We have a new look, we rebranded the company and we have a couple of licenses under our belt," Yarlagadda said. "I think 2014 is going to be a banner year for us."

Prior to hosting a party on Jan. 9, Kas welcomed Donny Osmond to help cut the ribbon for the new showroom. Yarlagadda said she believes the partnership - which will introduce rugs in July - will be strong for all involved.

"It's been a very exciting journey with the Donny team. It all happened very quickly. They're as excited to be a part of our family as we are to be a part of theirs," she said. "The unique and interesting thing about the Donny Osmond Home brand is they only partner up with family businesses. It's nice to see that being so important to so many people."

Satya Tiwari, president of Surya, said Atlanta continues to be an important show for the Calhoun, Ga.-based manufacturer.

"Atlanta, the last few years, has been getting stronger for us. With us moving to the accessory floor, it's given us entrée to more customers than we got downstairs. It's been a good market," Tiwari said.

He said that with Surya's growing array of product, buyers could find all they wanted at any price point and then some.

"Since we have a very broad line, we try to have good-better-best in different lifestyles. Our introductions are scattered throughout but we are getting good response," Tiwari said. "The hide collection, we have a lot of naturals but a lot of dyed hides. We've probably been the strongest in flat-weaves for over a decade and we've strengthened it and tried to innovate it. Same for high-end tufted and high-end knotted. We've seen a resurgence in the high-end market so we've been focusing on that a lot. Our high-end product has been well-received."

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