Area Rugs USA History Blog | Machine Made

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Area Rugs USA History - Machine Made Series

Persians inherited the art of weaving rug from centuries of old civilization and Americans perfected the same art through rich industrialization. USA has a short history but USA rug industry did come closer to the Persian rug industry with machine-made rugs. Machine-made American rugs were introduced when some of the top companies revolutionized the USA rug industry through inventions and innovations.

Lowell Manufacturing Company

In 1828 Lowell manufacturing Company was founded and the first carpet was woven under the direction of Alexander Wright in Lowell. In 1837 Alexander Wright, a production manager for the Lowell Manufacturing Company, attempted to make a power loom that worked consistently to make rugs previously made on hand-looms. Alexander experience and suggestion in later years greatly helped E. Bigelow to perfect the power loom for carpet manufacturing.


Alexander Wright _ Lowell Manufacturing

Bigelow Carpet Company

In 1839, Erastus Bigelow reshaped the industry on permanent basis with the invention of the power loom. The loom worked so well that carpet production was doubled the first year. Bigelow with his brother Horatio opened a mill in Clinton, Massachusetts in 1848 and designed the most innovative loom for the production of Brussels carpet in 1849. Later, the Brussels loom was slightly modified for the production of Wilton carpet. In 1914, the Hartford Carpet Company merged with Clinton Company to become Bigelow Carpet Company. The company thrived with its focus on innovation, quality, reliability and affordability. In 1993 Bigelow Karastan was purchased by Mohawk Industries.


       Area Rugs Usa History - Bigelow Carpet
Bigelow Carpet Company


Alexander Smith & Sons

In 1845, Alexander Smith started a carpet manufacturing plant in West Farms, New York. Halcyon Skinner, another American, perfected the power loom for making Royal Axminster in 1876. Together they formed a very successful carpet company. Alexander Smith died in 1878 but the company remained functional. In 1929, Alexander Smith & Sons was the largest rug manufacturing company and continued showing strong profits till 1948 but eventually became too big and inefficient. After huge consecutive losses in its final years, the company merged with Mohawk Corporation in 1956.

Alexander Smith & Sons Carpet Company


Mohawk Carpet Mills

In 1878, four brothers established Shuttleworth Brothers Company in Amsterdam, New York with 14 looms brought from England. This company introduced a new carpet, Karnak Wilton, in 1905. Karnak Wilton was such a huge success that a new building was constructed to handle Karnak production exclusively. In 1920, the company merged with another Amsterdam-based carpet manufacturer, McCleary, Wallin & Crouse. The new company Mohawk Carpet Mills was named after the Mohawk River. In 1956 Mohawk purchased Alexander Smith & Sons. In 1992 the company went public and acquires Horizon Industries. In 1993 Mohawk purchased Bigelow Karastan. Since going public over the years Mohawk has completed 42 acquisitions and extended to multiple market segments. Its portfolio today covers residential carpets, commercial carpets, rugs, mats, laminate, vinyl tile, sheet vinyl, wood, counter tops and ceramic tiles. Mohawk today has one of the biggest global footprint in flooring segment with manufacturing facilities scattered across USA, Mexico, Europe, Russia, New Zealand, Australia and Asia.


                       Area Rugs Usa History _ Mohawk CEO Jeffrey Lorberbaum
Mohawk CEO - Jeffrey Lorberbaum


Karastan Rugs

In 1920, the American retailer Marshall Field, who was also a textile manufacturer, modified a traditional Axminster weaving loom to recreate the beauty and craftsmanship of handmade rugs at lower cost. The first Karastan rug was machine-made and woven through the back like an Oriental rug, with intricate designs in unlimited variety of colors. Karastan rug mill was established in 1926 and the first Karastan rugs were introduced to the public in 1928. Advanced manufacturing techniques along with Marshall field's successful salesmanship played a very positive role in the huge success of Karastan brand. Karastan became a part of Mohawk industries in 1993. Mohawk still owns this great brand and delivers inspired designs with flawless craftsmanship from the same factory in Eden North Carolina where it initially started.


     Area Rugs Usa History _ Karastan Rugs Eden NC
Karastan Rugs Eden NC


Today Bigelow, Alexander Smith, and Karastan are part of the Mohawk Group, headquartered in Georgia.

Apart from above mentioned rug manufacturers, other big names in the American rug industry are Oriental Weavers, Nourison, Milliken, Jaipur and Loloi. These rug manufacturers have design, manufacturing and distribution facilities spread all over the world.

Oriental Weavers

Oriental Weavers was founded in 1979 by industrialist and entrepreneur Mohammed Farid Khamis and has been traded on the Egyptian Exchange since 1997. Oriental weaver's foundation is built on Egypt long textile tradition that dates back to a linen cloth made in Upper Egypt c.5000 BC. Oriental weaver is biggest producer of area rugs in Egypt with manufacturing footprint in three countries. Oriental Weavers its and subsidiaries has been continuously delivering quality products for the past 40 years. From pellet granule production, fiber processing to weaving, Oriental Weaver has end to end supply chain ownership and delivers quality from concept to production. Oriental weaver products today are distributed in 130 countries. Unique newer designs and processing technology help oriental weavers convert great quality raw materials into vast array of products which can be enjoyed for many years, and are still affordable enough for consumers to replace as many times as they redecorate.


      Area Rugs Weaver _ Oriental Weavers
Oriental Weavers Company

 Continued, stay tuned for more postings in this series.


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