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From left to right, The Wholesaler Editor Ruth Mitchell with GE team members Tom Zimmer, Halinah Cleveland, Frank Scheffel and President and CEO Kevin Nolan during the water heater plant's opening event.
GE Appliances, a Haier company, officially opened its $70 million state-of-the-art water heating manufacturing plant in Camden, South Carolina, on May 11. The site will serve as the company’s Center of Excellence for water heater manufacturing and was built for future expansion. Since 2016, GE Appliances has invested $2 billion in its U.S. manufacturing and distribution operations, adding more than 3,000 new employees and creating an additional 88,000 jobs in the nation’s economy.
“Investing in U.S. manufacturing is a winning strategy for GE Appliances bringing us even closer to our customers and enabling us to serve them better,” said Kevin Nolan, president and CEO for GE Appliances. “We’re doubling down on innovation in high-tech products, cutting-edge, advanced manufacturing, and creating American jobs.”
The plant is vertically integrated and will produce units starting from coils of steel into high-quality water heaters for homes across the United States. The new plant includes advanced systems for metal fabrication and welding, robotics for material handling and processing, and enameling of the steel. During the construction and in preparation for launch, more than 50 team leaders and maintenance employees completed more than 5,700 hours of training in robotics, welding and mechatronics at nearby Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC). The plant will initially employ 140 people.
“We are proud that Kershaw County is home to GE Appliances’ new Manufacturing Center of Excellence for water heaters. The fact that they chose South Carolina for this state-of-the-art facility is a testament to our state’s infrastructure and skilled workforce that allows companies to find success,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “We thank GE Appliances for their commitment to South Carolina, and we look forward to continuing our longstanding business partnership for many more years to come.”
“I congratulate the great leadership of GE Appliances in this achievement and thank our Governor and Secretary of Commerce for answering my request for help in making this possible,” said Julian Burns, Kershaw County Council Chairman. “Kershaw County will do more than its part in providing the trained and ready workforce and a great place for GE Appliances’ employees to live, work and raise their families.”
Industry-leading water heater technology
Sold under the GE brand, the RealMAX gas water heaters offer key performance and convenience features such as the following:
“With every water heater model we carry, we’re committed to delivering maximum performance for the professional channel and distributors,” said Tom Zimmer, executive director, water heating for GE Appliances Air & Water Solutions. “South Carolina local manufacturing coupled with GE Appliances’ broad distribution system assures product delivery within days, offering quick access when our customers need it the most.”
Focus on professional contractors
In 2020, GE Appliances announced the launch of Air & Water Solutions, a channel dedicated to serving the unique needs of professional contractors and wholesale distributors in the plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry. Air & Water Solutions combines GEA’s innovative portfolio of products with a dedicated team of sales professionals, training centers, and support resources for professional contractors.
“Our entrance into the plumbing and HVAC channel is focused on professional contractors who are on the front lines and never stop creating solutions for their customers,” said Jim Skaggs, vice president of sales for GE Appliances Air & Water Solutions. “We are committed to matching their passion with a broad product portfolio, winning innovation, an iconic brand, and on-demand technical support. Our pros never stop, so neither will we – and that includes our Camden manufacturing team!”