Evansville, Ind. – Haier America has cut the ribbon on its $2.8 million Technology and Design Center of Excellence here.
The 30,000-square-foot R&D facility, announced last September, will support the majap and CE maker’s U.S. expansion into new product categories such as cooking.
Located in a former Coca-Cola bottling plant, the center will house Haier’s engineering offices, performance and reliability laboratories, a consumer experience showroom, and a model shop with rapid-prototype capabilities, the company said.
Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke noted that the town has “a strong history of producing refrigerators, air conditioners and other larger appliances,” providing Haier with a local talent pool.
Indeed, as the former home to the fridge factories of long-gone suppliers Sunbeam/Seeger, Servel and International Harvester, Evansville was once nicknamed “The Refrigerator Capital of the World,” and college football teams would compete in the local Refrigerator Bowl, the Indiana Economic Digest reported.
All that changed when Whirlpool, which acquired the plants in the mid-1950s, pulled up stakes and moved refrigeration production to Mexico in 2010, costing 1,100 workers their jobs.
Haier will revive Evansville’s majap heritage. Seen here, the first RCA Whirlpool gas refrigerator comes off the assembly line in 1958. (Courtesy the Indiana Economic Digest)
Winnecke hailed Haier’s new investment here as signifying “the launch of a new manufacturing era for our community” and the “reemergence of the appliance industry in Evansville.”
Added Haier America president/CEO Adrian Micu, “Evansville is the perfect location to launch this Haier facility in the United States,” as it “aligns with our strategy to design and manufacture consumer-centric, whole-home platform solutions that fit the lives and anticipate the needs of American consumers. Haier is closer and more committed to the U.S. market than ever before.”
Haier, headquartered in Wayne, N.J., is a subsidiary of China’s Haier Group, a global force in CE and ranked by Euromonitor International last year as the world’s largest majap brand by volume.