GE Appliances has opened its GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater manufacturing facility at Appliance Park in Louisville, Ky. -- the first to open there since 1957. The new product and a revitalized facility, a $38 million investment, is the first of GE’s commitments to invest a total of $1 billion ($800 million in Louisville) and create more than 1,300 new jobs in the United States by 2014.
"The journey we started in 2009 to get to this day has been an inspirational one," said GE Appliances president and CEO Charles "Chip" Blankenship. "To reverse decades of outsourcing by bringing new, industry-leading products and jobs back to the U.S. takes tremendous cooperation, imagination, courage and plain hard work by a lot of people. I want to thank our local union, our employees, government and company officials for having and executing a vision that is bringing these jobs to Appliance Park and creating a bright future for our business."
An earlier version of the water heater had been manufactured in China, but GE found that the new product can now be made more competitively in the United States. In addition, the GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater, developed by the Louisville team, has an enhanced feature set, offers greater energy savings and will be more affordable for consumers. The water heater provides hot water in the quantities homeowners expect from a 50-gal. tank water heater, but uses less than half the energy to produce it.
The GeoSpring is the first GE Appliances product designed and built using Lean manufacturing principles. The Lean process, which uses a cross-functional team of employees to design the product and the manufacturing process, increases the competitiveness of the operation by removing waste in materials and work effort.
State and local governments supported setting up the GeoSpring in Louisville with up to $17 million in incentives to design and build the energy-efficient facility, as well as other investments that GE is planning at Appliance Park during the next several years.
"We made a commitment early in my administration that energy-related development would be a high priority," said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. "We developed an aggressive plan to not only research and develop new kinds of energy production, but to attract businesses and projects that are similarly committed to cleaner, greener energy applications. GE's new hybrid water heater is a perfect match for our energy commitment and our strong manufacturing core."