GE expands production in Louisville
For the first time, GE is producing a frontload washing machine and matching dryer from one of its U.S. plants.
In Building 1 at GE’s massive Appliance Park, where topload washing machines have been built for about 60 years, two new assembly lines, costing more $100 million, have begun producing high-efficiency frontload washing machines and dryers.
“The new frontload washer and dryer are examples of what we set out to accomplish with our investment in U.S. design and manufacturing capability … producing great products with features and performance that delight consumers,” said GE Appliances president and CEO Chip Blankenship. “Our team is committed to manufacture each unit here in Louisville with the highest quality levels and competitive costs.”
The start-up of these two lines completes the new product platforms GE committed to bring to Appliance Park in a 2010 announcement that stated it would invest $1 billion to transform its U.S. appliances business and products. Since that announcement, GE Appliances has hired 3,000 new employees in Louisville, 2,500 in 2012 alone.
In 2012, GE opened two refurbished factories in Louisville to house the first of the new product platforms — the GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater and French door refrigerator. It also added lines in two existing plants for new dishwasher and washing machine models.
Also, as part of the $1 billion investment, GE is investing in cooking products made in Lafayette, Ga., top-freezer refrigerators made in Decatur, Ala., and side-by-side refrigerators made in Bloomington, Ind.
“This is exciting news for our city and region, both for the 200 quality jobs that these new products bring and for the statement it makes about the quality of our local workforce and the confidence GE has in those men and women,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “For Louisville to be the first city in America to build GE’s new state-of-the-art appliances is also super exciting and bodes well for the future of our diverse and growing local economy.”
In Vegas, more channels, more dollars
Attendees and exhibitors alike will find more ways to network and reach out to potential customers at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, May 7-9, according to show organizers.
There will be nearly 700 new exhibitors across multiple categories. Some of the new exhibitors include Kohler Co., Woodcraft, Family Handyman, Millennium Lock and Frontline Products, among others. For these new exhibitors, the National Hardware Show offers a chance for them to get exposure to new business.
“We had such success at the recent Orgill trade show that we felt the hardware industry was really a great opportunity for us,” said Paul Croisdale, CEO of Frontline Products, which specializes in upscale dollar store merchandise. “We’re still competing with the dollar stores, but we’ve done well in the grocery and drugstore trades, and we felt we could do the same with the hardware trade. We’re looking forward to meeting new people and getting new accounts.”
“We’re looking forward to offering a wide array of products for attendees at the National Hardware Show,” said Sonya Ruff Jarvis, VP attendee programs with the National Hardware Show. “From the big, well-known brands or the new exhibitors, there will be something for everyone. We’re proud to be able to offer such a wide range of products throughout the home improvement industry.”
“I have attended the National Hardware Show for the past five years,” said Will Barnhart of the Oregon-based Wilco co-op. “I go there to take advantage of the activities and training offered by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) at the Village Stage and attend the NRHA Convention, and to see what’s new. There’s so much more at the National Hardware Show than the normal co-op shows we attend. I also get the chance to mingle with all the other retailers, learning from them and hearing what’s going on in their businesses. For anyone in the retail hardware business, the show is a don’t-miss event."
Looking ahead to modest growth
Orlando, Fla. — The Home Improvement Research Institute’s Spring Conference included a mixed message for future home improvement spending.
In a presentation from James Gillula, managing director of consulting services for IHS Global Insights, one of the takeaways was an expectation of modest growth for consumer spending in 2013.
“There is a lot of hope that we’ll get to a point where we’ll have a little faster economic acceleration,” Gillula said. “And certainly the idea that there should be a lot of pent-up demand out there is relevant for home improvement products market.“
One of the key slides from Gillula’s “Outlook for the U.S. Economy and Home Improvement Spending” presentation looked at the nominal dollar and constant dollar market forecast. The forecast varied depending on whether the sales forecast was measured in nominal dollars or constant prices.
Nominally, the home improvement product market forecast called for growth to slow to 4.3% in 2013, compared with 5.4% growth in 2012. In constant prices, sales growth is expected to increase from 2.9% in 2012 to 3.4% in 2013. Both measures show accelerated growth in 2014, according to IHS Global.
The Home Improvement Research Institute is a membership-based, independent, not-for-profit organization of about 80 manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and allied organizations in the home improvement industry.