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GE Appliances Turns Up The Heat At Cooking Plant

GE Appliances’ cooking products plant in LaFayette, Ga., is heating up.

Two years after the vendor announced an $88 million investment there in new product production, the facility is ramping up with new hires and the addition of a third manufacturing shift.

The Roper Corp. factory, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of GE, produces the company’s newest line of freestanding ranges with edge-to-edge cooktops; pro-style Monogram French door wall ovens; and induction cooktops with Bluetooth and smartphone controls under the Café, Profile and Monogram sub-brands.

“Consumers are clearly responding favorably to our investment in our cooking products. Sales are growing and, in turn, so are American jobs,” said Paul Surowiec, product general manager, cooking, for GE Appliances. “These new products incorporate quality craftsmanship, the latest technology and great features that are delighting consumers and our retail and builder partners.”

The investment in LaFayette comes as the fate of GE’s appliance business hangs in the balance. After being on an off the auction block for years, the unit is set to be sold to Electrolux for $3.3 billion, although the deal has raised the hackles of the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), which is attempting to block the merger with an antitrust suit.

In advance of the Nov. 9 trial, the DOJ has been busy deposing industry authorities to support its point that the concentration of commercial cooking production within a combined GE-Electrolux “would leave millions of Americans vulnerable to price increases for ranges, cooktops and wall ovens,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie Overton has said.

But armed with a federal-court motion to subpoena Samsung and LG, Electrolux lawyers are out to demonstrate that the appliance business is more fractured, and competitive, than the DOJ comprehends.

A preliminary status hearing had been slated for Sept. 29 in Washington.