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MILLIKEN REOPENS CARPET PLANT

 Setting Industry Standards for Turnaround and Technology


LAGRANGE, Ga., Aug. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- On August 1, six months after it was destroyed by fire, Milliken & Company's Live Oak/Milstar plant began producing carpet in LaGrange, Ga. The carpet dyeing and finishing center is rebuilt on the site of the original 660,000 square foot complex, which caught fire on January 31 and burned to the ground.

Like the previous facility, the new plant produces broadloom and modular carpet for the commercial and hospitality industries and broadloom and area rugs for residential use. Milliken, a leading international textile manufacturer, supplies carpet to the United States and much of its international markets from the LaGrange facility. Milliken and contractor Fluor Daniel worked around the clock to open the plant in what is considered record time. A facility of this calibre, along with related manufacturing equipment, usually requires more than two years to build, according to Fluor Daniel representatives.

Milliken, known for sophisticated patterning of nylon carpets, rebuilt Millitron(R) dyeing equipment lost in the fire. These patented high-tech dyeing ranges provide color flexibility, intricate detailing, and greater precision in dye registration.

Also located in the new complex are rug-cutting operations, a warehousing and distribution center, computer information services, and shipping and receiving. Operations of Milliken's Earthwise Ennovations(TM) reusable carpet will expand into the new facility. The innovative program reclaims used modular carpet and retextures and dyes it for reuse in commercial facilities.

The rebuilt carpet facility retains the ISO 9000 Series Standards registration earned in 1994 by the previous Live Oak/Milstar complex. Milliken was the first United States company to obtain this carpet manufacturing registration, considered the global quality standard in manufactured products.

The handling of the Milliken fire immediately following the disaster and during the rebuilding process is fast becoming a case study in industrial crisis management. Though it precipitated major financial loss, the fire caused no injuries to the 180 associates manning the plant at the time of the fire. The environmental integrity of the site was quickly secured by the actions of Milliken and DuPont engineers. The fire was contained to the plant to prevent danger to neighboring communities.

Within hours of the blaze, Milliken had formed 30 teams to address concerns ranging from personnel reassignment, customer service and reconstruction. According to Tom Malone, Milliken president and COO, Milliken's emphasis on teamwork enabled it to move rapidly during the initial hours following the fire.

"You never believe that such a tragedy will happen to you. But if you have developed the culture that this company has over the last 15 years, then you are prepared for any eventuality," Malone said.

Milliken met with the plant's 680 associates on the day following the fire and assured them that "everything humanly possible" would be done to provide them with job opportunities at other Milliken plants. Most were reassigned within two weeks to other facilities in LaGrange, the United Kingdom and Japan, where production was increased to cover rerouted orders. Milliken leased other facilities in order to supplement lost production. Customers were contacted within three days of the fire and advised on the status of their orders. Since then, customers have been continuously updated.

Initial layouts for the new facility were drawn within five days. Before the smoke had cleared, bulldozers began clearing the way for rebuilding. Milliken associates and suppliers worked non-stop fabricating parts for equipment so that it could be operational by August 1. In some cases, assembly was done on site to expedite this process.

According to Milliken associates involved in the initial response to the crisis, the decision to rebuild the plant in the United States was made immediately. "We could have rebuilt some place like Mexico, where we could take advantage of cheaper labor," Milliken said. "But we are committed to manufacturing in America. We never considered anything other than rebuilding Live Oak right where it was."

Milliken & Company is a diversified international textile manufacturer based in Spartanburg, S.C. The firm's more than 14,000 associates work from 55 manufacturing facilities worldwide to create more than 48,000 different textiles and chemical products. The privately owned company's trail-blazing quality management programs have earned The Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, the European Quality Award, the British Quality Award and the Canada Award for Business Excellence in Quality.
 -0- 8/2/95


/CONTACT: Richard Dillard, Milliken & Company, 803-503-2546/

CO: Milliken & Company ST: Georgia IN: TEX SU:

SD-KW -- AT022 -- 1065 08/02/95 16:34 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 2, 1995
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