By Andrea Lillo
While many companies have been pulling back this year, keeping expenses down and weathering the economic storm, Millennium Weavers LLC is a startup that has been quickly ramping up for more than a year now, and will officially launch to the industry next month at the Atlanta International Area Rug Market.
Speaking about the economy, “it’s not all gloom and doom,” said Jeff Knott, president and CEO, and there are opportunities out there. “We’re excited at the reception we’ve received so far.”
And already the company is planning for global expansion, both for its brand as well as for U.S. companies that want to grow their international business.
Backed by Al-Sorayai Trading Group, a Saudia Arabian flooring company with 60 years of experience, and based in Dalton, Ga., Millennium will offer both area rugs and broadloom, though the emphasis for now will be on area rugs, said Knott, taking advantage of the love U.S. consumers have for hardwood and laminate flooring.
Debuting in Atlanta, the new collections focus on sophisticated transitional and “conservative contemporary” styles, said Mike Thompson, who heads up Millennium’s domestic area rug business segment as USA director. “I saw what [Al-Sorayai’s design team] was doing with color and design on just their standard products” and was impressed, he said. “They’ve done a great job to create unique designs.” Initially price points will range from $199 to $499 for a 5-by-8, and will include polypropylene product, along with nylon items, using Wilton and tufted looms for the U.S. market. At least seven collections will debut in Atlanta, he said.
At presstime, the company was weeks away from making several announcements, including a new technology to the industry, as well as the company it will be partnering with at AmericasMart for the Atlanta show.
With a background in international startups of new brands and concepts, including his time at RoomsToGo Corp., where he was previously senior vice president, international, Knott stressed that Millennium would love to work with U.S. companies that want to go global. “We can get them into new markets,” Knott said. The Millennium team has a wealth of international experience, including Rickey Mullins, senior vice president, business development, who is leading the company’s worldwide business development and operations, and Gary Goforth, international director, Latin America, Caribbean and Canada, who oversees sales development in the residential broadloom and commercial business segments.
Millennium itself will also bring its product to other countries, Knott added, and already has someone in place in Europe to help the company expand there next year.
After his experience as a retailer, where “we were always talking about the customer” and what she wanted, Knott emphasized that’s how things will be done at Millennium. “We’re trying to bring more of a lifestyle concept [to the market.] We’ll respond to customers’ needs.”