Business

Wichita-based carpet company sells comfort to rock stars, wealthy

CAP Carpet of Wichita has completed the purchase of the assets of Carousel Carpets of Calhoun, Ga., allowing it to continue its rapid growth in the high-end carpet business.

CAP, based at 535 S. Emerson, was started in 1967 as a carpet retailer by La Vone Pirner, and now claims the title of the nation’s 14th largest flooring retailer, selling in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska.

But the company has spread out. It got into wholesaling aircraft interiors business 26 years ago and then into manufacturing carpet after it bought a carpet mill in Spindale, N.C. called White Oak Carpet. White Oak still makes makes aircraft interiors, but also high-end, customized carpets for homes and even high-end recreational vehicles.

“People want something special; they want something custom,” said Aaron Pirner, president of CAP Carpet, and son of the founder.

Recently, the owner of White Oak’s main competitor, Carousel Carpets, said it was going to shut down the operation. Pirner said they put in a bid for Carousel’s assets, which includes the special machinery, as well as the designs and patterns. They won the bid and are now moving the machinery to the White Oak plant in Spindale.

After absorbing its main competitor, White Oak is the now the largest made-to-order wool and mohair carpet-maker in North America, he said.

“We’ve targeted the very top, the heads of state, the VIPs’ aircraft, rock stars … several of the real movers and shakers politically,” Pirner said.

These clients typically work through a designer or through aircraft manufacturers to order something unique.

“These are one-of-a-kind, unique and special in their color, their texture and their pattern,” Pirner said.

CAP Carpet is growing fast, Pirner said, and this year he expects the company to have $57 million in sales, which includes all facets of the business.

About 20 percent of the company’s sales are to aircraft makers. Another 40 percent is wholesale carpet sales, which includes manufacturing for its own needs. The remainder is retail sales, which also includes selling some of its own product.

About a third of the business is located in Wichita, he said.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danvoorhis.

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