Beaulieu of America
Bouckaert, the oldest of seven children, was born in 1954 in Waregem, Belgium. The son of a surgeon, he was educated in rigorous Jesuit schools and then studied engineering at Louvain University. He married the daughter of Roger De Clerck, owner of Beaulieu Belgium, the largest carpet business in Europe.
When De Clerck decided to expand his business into the emerging market of the United States, he chose his future son-in-law to start a company concentrating on the woven polypropylene Oriental rug market. Although U.S. sales of this product already totaled around $1 million, De Clerck believed that there was still room for growth and charged Bouckaert with proving him right. In 1978, taking over the facilities of the bankrupt Barwick Carpets, Beaulieu America was founded in Dalton, the heart of northwest Georgia's carpet industry. The company's growth resulted from the synergy of family and personal leadership, good ideas, careful acquisition, total integration, and a consistent, workable long-range plan.
In a few years,
The economic recession that began in 2000 brought stress to the entire carpet market, particularly Beaulieu, which was the most integrated in the industry. By 2003, after some shuffling of top management, Beaulieu was again strong and profitable. The company also manufactures medium-priced commercial carpet under the Cambridge label, high-end specified carpet under the Bolyü label, and needlepunch floor covering through Murray Fabrics and its surfaces divisions.
Thomas M. Deaton, Bedspreads to Broadloom: The Story of the Tufted Carpet Industry (Acton, Mass.: Tapestry Press, 1993).
Thomas M. Deaton, "Tufted Titans: Dalton, Georgia's Carpet Elite," in The Southern Elite and Social Change: Essays in Honor of Willard B. Gatewood Jr., ed. Randy Finley and Thomas A. DeBlack (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2002).
Randall L. Patton with David B. Parker, Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999).
Thomas M. Deaton, Dalton State College
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