* 1880 -- Sommer founded
* 1886 -- Tarkett founded
* 1913 -- Albert founded
* 1972 -- Sommer and Albert merge
* 1997 -- Tarkett merges with Sommer Albert
* 2003 -- Company changes name from Tarkett Sommer to Tarkett
* 2012 -- Tarkett buys Tandus
Worldwide sales -- $2.7 billion
Employees -- 9,200
Production sites -- 32 worldwide
Owners: Deconinck family and KKR private equity funds
Worldwide sales -- $340 million
Employees -- 1,400
Production sites -- Five in North America, one in China
Glen Hussmann -- Tandus CEO
Jeff Buttitta -- President of Tarkett North America
Michel Giannuzzi -- CEO of France-based Tarkett Group
Paris-based Tarkett has purchased the Tandus Flooring Group, based in Dalton, Ga., for an undisclosed amount.
The acquisition brings a large foreign player to the highly-competitive U.S. commercial carpet market, which has traditionally been dominated by flooring titans in the U.S. southeast.
"This is a game changer in the commercial carpet market," said Kemp Harr, publisher of Floor Focus Magazine.
Tarkett boasts $2.7 billion in sales, 9,200 employees and 32 production sites . The world's third-largest flooring manufacturer and largest overall hard surface manufacturer is half-owned by the Deconinck family, with the other 50 percent split among private equity funds.
Tandus was the fourth-largest carpet manufacturer in the U.S. prior to the acquisition, with $340 million in sales and 1,400 employees spread across six production sites.
Michael Giannuzzi, CEO of the Tarkett Group, said the combined company will vigorously pursue market share in the U.S. and Asia.
"Thanks to this strategic move, we will reinforce our position as a global leading flooring provider, extending our activities in the commercial carpet market in North America while further developing our footprint in the fast growing Asian markets," Giannuzzi said.
The combined company will compete directly with Dalton-based Shaw Industries, the world's largest floorcovering manufacturer, and Calhoun-based Mohawk Industries, which is the second-largest flooring producer.
Tandus will continue to operate semi-independently as a wholly-owned subsidiary, and Tarkett has no plans to close plants or lay off employees, according to a news release.
In fact, Tarkett is hoping to grab market share and expand, said spokesman Jeff Krejsa.
"The long term plan is for us to continue to grow and hopefully accelerate the growth of that business," he said. "We were looking to fill in this hole in our portfolio."
While Tarkett has a U.S. presence in commercial and residential hard surfaces, the company until now has had no U.S. commercial carpet offerings, Krejsa said.
Tarkett can now sell a variety of hard and soft flooring products to a single customer, where before it could only bid for hard surface contracts, he said.
"When you go into a hospital and you have a different need for the ER versus the nurses station, we now have balanced choices to offer them," Krejsa said.
Jeff Buttitta, president of Tarkett North America, predicted that the two companies together will reach $1 billion in sales for the North American market alone.
"We will now offer a broad commercial portfolio of soft and hard surfaces, have a deep and experienced field organization and hold strong positions in the education, corporate and health care segments," Buttitta said.
Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...