GE is investing more than $62 million in Appliance Park to expand production capacity and create 260 new jobs.
By Dori Easterson, YSN
It was top of mind for BrandSource members during this week’s 2020 Virtual Convention: How is that the appliance industry is flat, but we can’t get product?
Lindsey Freibert, Senior Principal National Account Manager at GE Appliances (GEA), stepped up to the plate and addressed dealers’ inventory concerns at a series of member regional meetings held during the show.
“The industry is flat,” Freibert said. “What happened is, at the beginning of this — about two weeks after we all got home from the BrandSource Summit in March — we shut down our factories across the board.”
Taking quick action in the wake of the COVID outbreak, GEA shut down operations for one week and installed temperature screening stations, added protective personal equipment (PPE) stations, and socially distanced workers on the production lines, she said. “And then we were up and running and we have not shut down since.”
In fact, the company did such a good job implementing safety protocols that the local health department pointed to GEA as setting the standard for other manufacturers to follow.
Meanwhile, GE Appliances continues to invest and hire for the long-term and is currently running an ad campaign, “Make it at the Park,” that is successfully recruiting new talent to work in the plants.
Specifically, GEA is pumping $62 million dollars into its Louisville facilities to further increase production and create 260 new jobs as each of the three major manufacturing plants at Appliance Park ramp up assembly lines to produce more washers, dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators. Since 2018, GE Appliances has invested more than $660 million in new products, U.S. manufacturing and its expanded smart distribution network, creating more than 1,500 new jobs, the company said.
“I guess that’s all to say that we’re doing what we can to really keep up with demand and we’re not there just yet,” she told members. “We’re all aware of availability issues from most appliance manufacturers, and I can assure you that we haven’t let our foot off the gas. It doesn’t make a great story ’cause at the end of the day we’re still where we are. But when I get the question of how the industry is flat and we don’t have product, that’s why.”
Freibert added without reservation that GEA’s area sales managers are “the best in the industry” and truly care about BrandSource members. “They’re going in at odd hours of the night and early, early morning to pull availability to fulfill your orders ahead of some of the other orders out there,” she said, noting that more than 70 percent of all product presently leaving the factories are going to independent dealers.
Freibert offered one final piece of advice to dealers. “Hopefully you made the investment in your web sales,” she said. “You are probably seeing that web traffic is up, and your e-commerce platform is priority.” By way of example, she cited one appliance dealer that is treating its e-commerce business like another storefront, with a dedicated manager and sales team. Fortunately, BrandSource members have all the digital tools they need at their disposal, thanks to what Freibert described as AVB’s “killer marketing team.”
For all things Convention related, visit the 2020 Convention section of YSN.
BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.