Making a play for the mass-premium segment

The kitchen is about to get more crowded.

Thor Kitchen, a new Southern California appliance company, is looking to bring added value to the mass-premium segment through a combination of U.S. design, global sourcing and Chinese production.

Based in Chino and led by managing director Kyle You and product development manager Shaun Lin, Thor’s pitch is a complete high-performance pro-style kitchen suite for under $5,000 retail.

“Our goal is to bring real pro-style products to more people,” You said. “Up until this point, pro-style appliances have always had a premium price preventing home chefs from having their dream kitchen. Now, instead of settling for just a pro-style range, you can have a full pro-style kitchen for the same price.”

His four-piece appliance lineup includes a 36-inch French door refrigerator, a 30-inch freestanding gas range, an under cabinet range hood, and a 24-inch dishwasher. All are finished in stainless steel and backed by a full two-year warranty on parts and labor.

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The fridge (suggested retail $1,799) features a twin cooling system with dual evaporators, two freezer drawers, automatic icemaker and LED lighting.

The range, priced to hit a $1,599 retail, offers a convection oven, four burners with continuous cast-iron grates, halogen lighting, automatic re-ignition and a blue porcelain oven cavity.

The range hood (street price $399) has a fingerprint-resistant finish, three-speed fan with touch control, and commercial-style stainless steel baffle filters.

The dishwasher (suggested retail $699) boasts three spray arms; steam assist for tough soils; sensors to help set optimum cycles; multiple filters to save water and energy; and a water softener system to deter calcium buildup and extend longevity.

The company designs the products in California and sources the components worldwide — including gas valves from Spain, burners from Italy and ignitors from the U.S. — and assembles them in China to contain costs.

You and Lin spent the past two years designing the line and building a sales network, and have already placed their products with major accounts including The Home Depot, AJ Madison and Houzz.

Thor is distributed in the Southwest by R&B Wholesale, in Utah by Clark Wholesale, in the Midwest and Southeast by O’Rourke Sales Co., and to independent dealers in Pennsylvania and Northern New York by Appliance Associates of Buffalo.

The company said it's seeking additional distributors and, no surprise, retail partners.

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