Dalton-based and family-owned Solberg Industrial Grinding and Slitting Operations Solutions serves the floorcovering industry across the United States, and owner Gary Solberg said the Floor Tek Expo is the place to meet potential customers and create new business.

"All in all, it has been a good day," he said. "We've made some good contacts."

The company builds carpet cutters, carpet splitters and other machinery, while provides grinding and machine shop services not only for the floorcovering industry but for packaging plants, paper mills, print shops and other industries.

Founded by the Dalton-based American Floorcovering Alliance (AFA) in 1979, the Floor Tek Expo supports the floorcovering industry and those firms that supply it. It continues through Thursday at the Dalton Convention Center.

"We started out as a carpet show but switched to a technology show in the early 1990s," said AFA Executive Director Stephanie Manis. "We have over 85 exhibitors this year. Thirty percent of those are first-time exhibitors."

Makers of robotics, machines and other equipment from across the United States and across the world packed the Convention Center arena.

"This shows that Georgia and Dalton are a hub for manufacturing," said state Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton.

Industry officials say that more than 65% of the carpet made in the United States is made within 65 miles of Dalton.

"Obviously, I represent this area, so it's important for me to keep up with the carpet industry," Payne said. "The level of technology on display here today is very impressive."

Manis said one thing different about this year's Floor Tek Expo is a focus on the local workforce.

"This industry faces a labor shortage," she said. "So the AFA has brought in human resources companies to set up table tops Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m., and they will be taking applications. We have also partnered with several local colleges to bring students and staff to see if they can make connections in the industry."

Jason Scott, senior talent acquisition manager at Shaw Industries, will speak at 11 a.m. today on talent acquisition and retention.

Adrienne McCurdy, director or student success and campus manager and Georgia Northwestern Technical College, was talking to both industry officials and members of the public about programs the school offers to prepare workers for a career in the floorcovering industry.

"We've got several new programs," she said. "For instance, our flooring production operator certificate and flooring production technician certificate. We also have an automation engineering technology associate's degree. We have also recently moved our precision manufacturing program to the Dalton campus."

The Floor Tek Expo continues at the Dalton Convention Center today from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free.

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