GEA workers were reinvigorated after leaving GE’s corporate fold, CEO Kevin Nolan said.

How GE Appliances has thrived under Haier

By Alan Wolf, YSN

To many within General Electric and without, the global conglomerate had treated its home appliance division as an afterthought.

Lumped together with the corporation’s other consumer unit, lighting, and placed on and off the selling block for years, its washers and dryers sat in the shadow of GE’s sexier nuclear power and jet engine operations.

As former GE Appliances CEO Chip Blankenship told The Wall Street Journal, “We would always be No. 12 on a list of nine things that could be funded.”

That all changed in 2016, when the white-goods unit was acquired by China’s Haier Group for $5.4 billion. According to a new analysis by the Journal — prompted no doubt by GE’s just announced plans to break itself up into three separate companies — the sale unleashed the Louisville-based business, and Haier’s deep pockets helped fuel its growth.

As the newspaper notes, GE Appliances (a.k.a. GEA) has since invested about $1.5 billion in new technology and products, added some 3,000 jobs, and just earmarked another $450 million in capital improvements.

The split from GE also unchained the vendor from layers of constrictive bureaucracy, and its purchase by a company committed to the appliance business helped improve morale. As current GEA president/CEO Kevin Nolan observed, “If you got a big, bureaucratic organization, there is no way you can move at the speed of the market. You see a real winning spirit with the employees now.”

As a result, GEA’s sales have nearly doubled between 2014 and 2020, the Journal reported, and its market share has hit a ten-year high.

“They’ve grown versus shrinking,” added Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, whose initial concerns about the buyout have since proved unwarranted.

Read the complete WSJ report here.