Chinese home appliance manufacturer Haier, which acquired household appliance manufacturer GE Appliances in 2016, is to invest $55 million in a new Southeast Region Appliance Distribution Center to be built in Commerce by April 2019.
Qingdao, China-based Haier is the world’s leading appliance manufacturer, but until it acquired GE Appliance in the U.S., it was primarily known for its refrigerators, air conditioners or mini-fridges.
It first gained a foothold in the U.S. in the 1990s as its mini-refrigerators appealed to college students and it became one of the earliest Chinese manufacturers with U.S. operations by opening a factory in Camden, S.C.
Once it acquired GE’s Louisville, Ky.-based appliance division for $5.6 billion, it instantly gained a strong presence in Georgia with 1,960 employees at Roper Corp., which manufactures in LaFayette washers, electric and gas dryers, electric ranges, and accessories. It also supports factory service operations through an office with 50 employees in Atlanta.
The company’s dynamic CEO Zhang Ruimin often talks about his desire to provide connectivity of appliances through the internet of things. He was attracted to GE Appliances, he has said, because of its innovations such as speed cook ovens and refrigerators that make coffee.
According to a June 14 press release issued by Gov. Nathan Deal’s office, Mark Shirkness, vice president of distribution for GE Appliances, said that the Commerce center will join “the largest distribution network in the appliance industry with the ability to deliver products in three days or less to 90 percent of U.S. homes.”
A long line of public officials welcomed the news including Commerce Mayor Clark Hill who said that the center would bring as many as 100 new jobs and “open the Highway 98 corridor to a great future of quality growth.”
“Industry leader GE Appliances is a welcome addition to our robust business community,” said Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “This is a well-deserved win for Jackson County, and I applaud our local economic development partners for their diligence through this project.”