GE opens GeoSpring operation in Kentucky
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."
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Lawn mowers, by the numbers
The year 2010 was a year of double-digit declines for lawn mower sales. Happily, 2011 saw an 8.1% increase, according to consumer research from Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group, though lawn mower sales remain below the 2009 sales of about $3.2 billion. The resurgence is making the biggest impact at warehouse home centers (WHC) and specialty stores, according to the data.
Of all the various and measurable attributes of a lawn mower — either riding mower or walk-behind — nothing is growing faster than the 16-to-21 horsepower riding mower category. This family of engines showed an 8.1 percentage point increase over 2010, growth that came largely at the expense of riding mowers with 22 hp or more.
Based on NPD Group’s data, the person most likely to buy a mower meets the following conditions: lives in the South, earns less than $30,000 a year, is aged 18 to 34 years and is male. In fact, the percentage of males has grown in each of the last three years, finishing 2011 at 71.1%.
Consumers increasingly are looking for bargains, as the purchase motivator “on sale/special promotion” increased 2.1 percentage points among reasons for purchase of a mower. No other motivator increased more in 2011, and “Price” remains the No. 1 purchase motivator, and growing. “Trusted brand” is ranked second, but it fell the most in 2011, down 4.4 percentage points from 2010.
Methodology: NPD data are based on monthly tracking of more than 30 home improvement-related categories and 30,000 opt-in consumers.
*2011 data reflect the period January 2011 through December 2011.
**Key: WHC: warehouse home center; MM: mass merchant; DS: department store; SS: specialty store; HS: hardware store
***More than one answer accepted
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A Builders’ Show roundup
Like anyone in business, builders are looking for an edge, looking for efficiencies and looking for ways to keep customers happy. The 2012 International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla., set the stage on all three counts. Here is a sampling of some of the ideas displayed.
Danze shower heads
From Woodridge, Ill.-based Danze Inc., the Danze 200 and the Danze 250 shower heads are equipped with a new shower head configuration that injects air directly into the shower head engine, providing an improved shower experience. The mixing of air and water provides three benefits: It increases water velocity and shower spray intensity, softens the feel of the shower spray by trapping air bubbles, and maintains water temperature. (danze.com)
Allied Moulded Compact Fluorescent Luminaire Fixtures
Allied Moulded Products, Inc., has introduced new energy-saving Compact Fluorescent Luminaire (LH-CFL1) keyless and (LH-CFL2) pull chain light fixtures that are sure to be a hit with homeowners. Designed for quick and easy installation for use in attics, basements, closets and garages, these fixtures use a GU24 base, 13-watt, squat compact fluorescent lamp with a 10,000-hour life. (alliedmoulded.com)
YKK AP StyleGuard Patio Doors
StyleGuard Impact-Resistant Patio Doors are designed for homes built in coastal areas subject to extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes. StyleGuard doors have been tested to ASTM and Miami-Dade protocols to resist impact from windborne debris. Four-point lock and exterior key lock are optional. (ykkap.com)
DecoGuard from Hy-Lite is a hurricane impact-resistant decorative glass window, offering protection from weather conditions associated with hurricanes and tropical storms. The 48-in. square designer window starts with a heavy-duty vinyl frame and impact-resistant laminated insulated glass. In addition, DecoGuard features a floral pattern kiln-fired directly onto the glass, black lines and frosted privacy glass. (hy-lite.com)
Weyerhaeuser Edge Gold
Weyerhaeuser has added another feature to its premium Edge Gold flooring panels, enhancing the panels’ resistance to rain and moisture. Down Pore self-draining technology channels water from the panels’ surfaces and drains it off the joists below, which reduces construction delays for contractors during inclement weather. The patent-pending Down Pore technology consists of three specially shaped drainage grooves on one of the narrow ends of each 4-ft. by 8-ft. panel. The unique design resists clogging from sawdust or adhesive, and allows water to drain even if the panels are not properly gapped. (woodbywy.com)
TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions
Earthwood Evolutions offers scratch, stain and fade resistance with warm, natural hardwood style and authentic, variegated color and graining. It is fully protected by a poly shell that features TimberTech’s exclusive HyrdoLock technology, making the plank impervious to the elements and everyday accidents. (timbertech.com)
Azek VAST Pavers
Azek VAST Composite Landscape Pavers are made from up to 95% recycled materials, which helps projects earn LEED certification. VAST composite masonry has the physical strength, durability and natural appearance to replace concrete, according to the company. The pavers weigh 8.2 lbs. per square foot, versus 30 or more lbs. per square foot for concrete permeable pavers. The patented grid system saves contractors time, reducing the amount of labor required for installation. (azek.com)
SimpliciKey has unveiled a new mobile Web application for its remote control, keyless deadbolt, which allows homeowners to unlock/lock their home from anywhere with the touch of a button. SimpliciKey offers an encrypted keyfob and a backlit, alphanumeric wireless keypad to accommodate up to 16 user codes. The deadbolt also allows the homeowner to use a traditional key. It requires AA batteries to operate and features a reversible lock system fit for both right- and left-hand doors, a sliding cover and three distinct finishes. (simplicikey.com)
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