Business leaders and local government representatives took a tour of the Shaw Create Centre Wednesday as part of the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce's annual Manufacturers Appreciation Week program.
The 67,000-square-foot facility on Douthit Ferry Road in West Cartersville opened last October. The three-story, $24 million building hosts designers, marketers and innovation associates for Shaw Industries' Shaw Contract and Patcraft brands.
The centre is currently home to 130 employees, about 50 of whom will move into a new custom design studio at Shaw Plant 94 on Old Mill Road once renovations are completed.
"The building is really based on this open-office model," said Shannon Cochran, vice president of creative and product development for Patcraft. "We have a lot of focus rooms that allows for individual work, also a lot of collaborative and impromptu spaces for meetings. It's really to promote trust and innovation and we wanted it to be a transparent space where everyone has flexible work options — that has kind of been the new corner office, so to speak."
With John Lennon quotes posted on the facility walls and several work spaces named after childhood favorite toys like Rubik's Cube and Lite-Brite, the centre demonstrates the changing dynamics of contemporary manufacturing. Instead of hard concrete floors and rows and rows of metallic shelves, the centre features flooring with built in "step-counting" sensors, noise-canceling personal booths ideal for handling phone calls and even rooms for employees to shower.
And no matter where an employee may be in the building, odds are they're never more than a few steps away from a coffee maker.
"Just listening to our associates and how they want to work is really important," Cochran said. "I think that's something that we heard loud and clear."
As for the types of products coming out of the centre, Cochran said it's primarily a mixture of carpet tile, broadloom carpet and resilient flooring for commercial industries. Merging durability and design, the products are popular with such segments as education, government and multi-family housing.
The centre's modernized, open-office design and wealth of amenities, Cochran said, certainly impacts worker performance.
"One of the things I have enjoyed in talking to my employees is that they just feel different coming into this space," she said. "And I think that promotes a passion for what they're doing, which is ultimately successful for us."
Wednesday's tour was something of a homecoming for Shane Evans, executive director of economic development at Chattahoochee Technical College.
"When I was in college I had an opportunity to work at Plant 11," he said. "I got to see how manufacturing works, and it's amazing to see how it's evolved through the years with automation and the efforts going in, especially being here at Shaw with the design efforts that go into making carpet and flooring now."
The centre's contemporary look and approach to workflow, Evans said, is greatly appealing to recent graduates.
"A lot of opportunities and careers students didn't even know existed are coming here," he said. "With the efforts in STEM, they're realizing that manufacturing has the jobs of the future, and that there are a lot of opportunities and great salaries there for students."
The local Chamber also coordinated tours at several other manufacturing facilities throughout the week, including Constellium, Sakai, Southern Machine & Fabrication Company and Trinity Rail, as well as the Bartow County College and Career Academy.
Presenting sponsors for the program included the City of Cartersville, Cartersville Medical Center, Cartersville Dentist Office, Georgia Power, North Georgia Staffing and BusMax Rent-A-Bus.
"It's actually a statewide event and the local communities can opt to participate, so the Chamber and Bartow County, we have been celebrating for many years," said Chamber CEO Cindy Williams. "It really gives us an opportunity to explore and see what is taking place inside the facilities to learn what their needs are and then to connect those partners for ongoing economic development."
The weeklong festivities, she said, are especially important for "tourists" who represent service industries and other non-manufacturing professions.
"Manufacturing will often lead the way for creativity and innovation," Williams said. "Therefore, they can go and really see the different aspects of business and how it's done sometimes in larger corporations."
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