Shaw ac­quires Tri­cy­cle Inc.


The big­gest car­pet maker in Dal­ton, Ga., is buy­ing the in­dus­try’s lead­ing sup­plier of dig­i­tal car­pet sam­ples for the com­mer­cial mar­ket to help car­pet re­tail­ers and in­te­rior de­sign­ers save money and limit car­pet wastes.

Shaw In­dus­tries Group Inc. on Thurs­day pur­chased Tri­cy­cle Inc., the Chat­tanooga-based provider of dig­i­tal car­pet sam­ples and floor­cov­er­ing tools.

Shaw, the world’s sec­ond big­gest floor­cov­er­ing com­pany owned by War­ren Buf­fett’s Berk­shire Hath­away Inc., said the ac­qui­si­tion will en­able Shaw’s com­mer­cial busi­ness to lead the in­dus­try in car­pet sam­pling sim­u­la­tion and dig­i­tal tools.

Founded in 2002 in Chat­tanooga, Tri­cy­cle helped rev­o­lu­tion­ize the pre­sen­ta­tion of how car­pet and other floor­cov­er­ings will look and fit in com­mer­cial in­te­ri­ors by help­ing in­te­rior de­sign­ers and ar­chi­tects vi­su­al­ize and sam­ple car­pet de­signs and colors in a dig­i­tal for­mat. The unique method of show­cas­ing dif­fer­ent car­pet op­tions, which was de­vel­oped from Tri­cy­cle’s own soft­ware de­sign, re­duces the need for as many phys­i­cal car­pet sam­ples to dis­play the many vari­a­tions of car­pets, rugs and other floor­cov­er­ings.

“Tech­nol­ogy will con­tinue to en­able in­no­va­tion

in the floor­ing in­dus­try, and Shaw is com­mit­ted to lead­ing the way,” Vance Bell, Shaw chair­man and CEO, said in an an­nounce­ment of the pur­chase. “This ac­qui­si­tion is just the be­gin­ning of what will be our com­pany’s long-term in­vest­ment in Tri­cy­cle’s peo­ple and tech­nol­ogy.”

Tri­cy­cle will op­er­ate as a wholly owned sub­sidiary and op­er­ate in­de­pen­dently, serv­ing Shaw and oth­ers in the com­mer­cial floor­ing in­dus­try. The 18-em­ployee com­pany will con­tinue to be led by Aern Hetem, the com­pany’s CEO for the past six years who has helped grow Tri­cy­cle rev­enues by more than 10 per­cent each year since he suc­ceeded found­ing CEO Jonathan Brag­don. Tri­cy­cle will con­tinue to op­er­ate its 15-em­ployee head­quar­ters and pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity in Chat­tanooga at 1293 River­front Park­way in Chat­tanooga, in ad­di­tion to its three-em­ployee of­fice in the United King­dom.

Terms of the pur­chase were not dis­closed by Shaw or by Tri­cy­cle, which was pre­vi­ously owned pri­mar­ily by its orig­i­nal in­vestors.

Brag­don, who is now a part­ner in the Chat­tanooga tech­nol­ogy com­pany known as very, and Michael Hen­drix, who now leads the Bos­ton stu­dio for global de­sign com­pany Ideo, founded Tri­cy­cle in 2002.

“We are go­ing to con­tinue with what we have been do­ing, serv­ing the en­tire car­pet in­dus­try as an in­de­pen­dent com­pany,” Hetem said. “We’ve been suc­cess­ful in grow­ing the busi­ness steadily and we see a lot of room for fu­ture growth. We’ve been able to ex­pand our tech­nol­ogy out­ward and ap­ply our sim­u­la­tion tech­nol­ogy in more fields than sim­ply mak­ing car­pet sam­ples.”

In the past, car­pet man­u­fac­tur­ers had to phys­i­cally pro­duce a car­pet for a po­ten­tial buyer to ei­ther see a car­pet sam­ple or high-im­age pho­to­graph. But Tri­cy­cle de­vel­oped a com­puter model that mim­icked the man­u­fac­tur­ing process to model car­pet in a very re­al­is­tic way with­out re­quir­ing that the car­pet be phys­i­cally pro­duced.

Tri­cy­cle’s TRY sim­u­lated floor­ing sam­ples rev­o­lu­tion­ized the in­dus­try by pro­vid­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers and de­sign­ers with three­d­i­men­sional, color-cor­rect dig­i­tal im­ages that re­place ac­tual sam­ples dur­ing the early phases of de­sign, sav­ing time, money, and waste.

The car­pet tools de­vel­oped by Tri­cy­cles sim­u­late car­pet sam­ples in a dig­i­tal form and also vi­su­al­ize lux­ury vinyl tiles and other hard sur­faces.

Tri­cy­cle’s award-win­ning tech­nol­ogy has led the floor­cov­er­ing in­dus­try in sim­u­lated car­pet sam­pling, in­no­va­tive dig­i­tal tools, and the ex­per­tise to au­to­mate the man­u­fac­tur­ing process. Tri­cy­cle’s de­sign has been rec­og­nized with a range of hon­ors from the firstever Gold IDEA award in Eco-De­sign from Busi­ness Week mag­a­zine and the In­dus­trial De­sign­ers So­ci­ety of Amer­ica to a Green Ap­ple award for en­vi­ron­men­tal best prac­tices in Great Bri­tain’s Par­lia­ment.

“We are very ex­cited to join Shaw, a com­pany known for award-win­ning de­sign, qual­ity, ser­vice, in­no­va­tion, and sus­tain­abil­ity,” Hetem said. “These qual­i­ties align well with the Tri­cy­cle core val­ues of in­no­va­tion, qual­ity, re­spon­sive­ness, prob­lem solv­ing, and sus­tain­abil­ity.”

Con­tact Dave Flessner at df­less­ner@times­freep­ or at 423-757-6340.


These threads are used to match true colors of thread used in car­pet to the colors used on the pa­per sam­ples made by Tri­cy­cle.

Vance Bell

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