Wednesday, October 17, 2012

interview #1 - jake from georgia

Mr. Becos has decided to do some interviews.
Here's the first, with Jake from Georgia, a professional in the carpet industry and a new father.

Mr Becos: Tell us what you know about carpet

Jake from Georgia: About Carpet. Carpet isn't just floorcovering. It's the way we bomb when we just want something to go away.  It's what lesbians munch, and for me over the past 11 years, it is how I make a living.  There are a lot of different kinds of carpet out there.  In the eastern part of the globe they have been weaving amazing carpets for thousands of years.  Where I'm from (Georgia, USA) carpet has been big shit since the 70s.  Most of the wall-to-wall carpet you walk on comes from Georgia.  A peculiar combination of weight, innovation and hillbilly knowhow has kept carpet strong even as other manufacturing has drifted overseas.  

The carpet I sell is made of Nylon.  Nylon is made from oil.  There is a gigantic plant in Pensacola Florida that was built by Monsanto many years ago.  It sits next to an inlet and big boats filled with oil pull up next to it and pump oil into the factory.  From there it is refined in a complicated process that involves robots, chemistry and a three-story chute filled with air-conditioners. Eventually it comes out in giant bales that look like cotton.(  It is twisted into yarn and sent for dying.  The plant has run continuously for decades.  They have a quality control and testing facility in the plant.  There are many different ways they evaluate the worth of their product.  The strangest involves a long rectangular room that measures about 50 feet on the long side and twenty on the short.  There is a bank of windows one side so you can see the testing as it proceeds.  In the room different runs of nylon that have been spun into yarn and tufted into carpet lay on the floor. Around ten people in sneakers walk in a circle around the room for eight hours a day.  I toured the factory three times over the years and these people were always the grim highlight.  You only see them through the glass, a few usually look up and wave and someone says it must be a great way to stay in shape.  On one tour we were told that most of the walkers gain weight on the job due to the vending machines positioned right outside the room.  I am told they make minimum wage.

Once the nylon looks like a proper piece of yarn it is taken to the tufting facility.  Most are located in North Georgia.  Dalton, GA is the carpet capital of the world.  During the first carpet boom in the late 70s it had more millionaires per capita than any other city in America.  It also had a 50% high school drop out rate.  For the first few years of my career, I worked in the marketing department at the plant.  I smoked at the time and you could still smoke in the plant so I spent a lot of time on the factory floor hanging out.  There are a lot of amazing people on the floor, but if I get off on that tangent I will never finish this answer.  The yarn is on big spools and they are all put on a creel ( The creel is located just behind the loom and all of the individual threads are put into individual needles.  There are often over 1000 needles (  The whole thing goes "chucka chuka chuka chuka" really fast and unbacked carpet comes out.  From there they put some latex on the back and glue on the secondary backing.  Then they roll it up and send it to the warehouse, where it waits for sales people to sell it.

I have to stop now the baby is freaking out.