By the early 1930’s, Dalton was widely known as a center for manufacturing. But, it was a time of rapid change in the United States. The Great Depression affected every sector of industry including the rapidly evolving tufting industry in Dalton. As buyer competition helped to lower prices and increase demand, the need for increased production brought about the first mechanized tufting machine widely attributed to the Glen Looper Foundry in Dalton, GA. Mr. Looper redesigned the original Singer machine to accommodate parallel rows of tufting versus single rows. This single innovation revolutionized the industry and hand-crafted pieces were now defunct. Machine-made bedspreads, mats and rugs were produced and a new industry was born.
By the end of World War II, demand had risen considerably and expectations for quality bedspreads, rugs and carpets reached an all time high. The feisty denizens of this north Georgia town were more than equal to the task. Mills and machine shops were established and manufacturing quickly met the demands of a hungry public eager for the colorful and beautiful products emerging from Dalton. By 1952, the bedspread and carpet industry was the third largest consumer of homegrown cotton and U.S. Highway 41, spanning the cities of Dalton and Cartersville, was widely known as “Bedspread Alley” due to the number of bedspreads hanging on clotheslines in the area.
The small town of Dalton found itself at the crossroads; it could continue to adapt to the rapidly changing needs of a growing public demanding higher levels of manufacturing and output or it could choose to ignore these demands and remain a footnote in history. It could stick with bedspreads or increase carpet manufacturing to satisfy public demand for an innovative new product.
The good people of Dalton chose to rise to the challenge and have never looked back. Synthetic fibers were introduced in the 1950’s; nylon was introduced in 1947; and by the time polyester was initially utilized in 1965, the carpet industry as a whole had broken the billion dollar mark. Machinery evolved from producing small rugs to large, broadloom carpets. The tufting industry in Dalton was forever changed.
Today, Dalton continues to be the center of the carpet industry worldwide. It produces more than 70% of all carpets manufactured and shows no signs of slowing down. The global industry now exceeds $9 Billion in revenue with a hefty percentage residing right here in good ole’ Georgia!
The inhabitants of Dalton blazed the trail and created the carpet industry we know today. They continue to find new and innovative methods of manufacturing designed to increase production and reduce costs. Every time we walk, sit or lie on our comfortable carpets, let’s remember to give a silent moment of thanks to the good people of Dalton, GA for their innovative nature, ingenuity and dedication.