Despite sale rumors, home builders back GE appliances - News, Weather & Sports

Despite sale rumors, home builders back GE appliances

Lisa Knight (Source: WAVE 3 News) Lisa Knight (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Rocky Pusateri (Source: WAVE 3 News) Rocky Pusateri (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Joe Dumstorf (Source: WAVE 3 News) Joe Dumstorf (Source: WAVE 3 News)
 LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - General Electric has reinvested almost $1 billion and hired almost 2,200 more workers to expand or upgrade its production lines at Appliance Park.

It’s why interior design and decorator Lisa Knight can’t believe the appliance business could be on the block, again.[PREVIOUS STORY: Uncertainty surrounds GE's Appliance Park]

“I was actually kind of disappointed,” she said. “I have a lot of friends at GE.” Knight also has a lot of GE products in the new house she decorated for Homearama 2014, the showcase of homes that the Building Industry Association of Louisville is staging in the Shakes Run subdivision July 12 to July 27.

“GE has an excellent reputation, excellent quality product,” Knight said. “People that stand behind the product.”

[PREVIOUS STORY: Bloomberg: GE attempting to sell appliance business]

Builder Rocky Pusateri wouldn’t use anything else.

“A lot of our customers are GE people,” he said. “So we've built a lot of houses for GE folks and if they're gonna  support us, we’re gonna support them.”

Home showcases are critical in the hyper-competitive market, according to Joe Dumstorf, with Trend Appliances, a distributor to builders.

[SLIDESHOW: A look inside the 2014 Homearama houses]

“Since the Recession, appliance margins have thinned and the competition has grown dramatically,” he said Thursday. “Buyers and builders are spending less than they did five or six years ago”

“We're being pitched all the time by window manufacturers, door manufacturers,” Pusateri said. “But if it isn't broke, don't fix it.”

[SLIDESHOW: Shakes Run 2014 Homearama houses]

The competition has sparked innovation.

GE’s cooperative arrangements with the University of Louisville allow engineers from the Speed School to learn and earn credits on-site. The microwave oven in Knight’s Homearama project is, indirectly, a product of First Build - a lab designed to create smaller appliances to serve smaller living spaces on UofL’s campus.

“We have an awesome relationship that we expect  to continue for many years to come,” UofL spokesman Mark Hebert said. “Any speculation that that would change is just that; speculation.”

Mayor Greg Fischer reiterated Louisville’s support for GE’s Appliance Park during an appearance Thursday, but said the facility’s fate is out of his hands.

“There's really nothing the city or state can do,” Mayor Fischer explained. “These are large, multinational corporations making their moves. So what we can do is just  do a good job every day. As long as they do that, the future usually takes care of itself regardless of who the owner is.”

“If they’re manufactured in this town, then we’re supporting people in this town,” Pusateria saPusateri’s what we would like to do.”

Thursday’s online edition of the Wall Street Journal cites an un-named source suggesting GE’s Board of Directors will discuss a sale proposal at a meeting next week. GE managers have declined comment on what they term rumors and speculation.

“No one likes change,” Dumstorf said. “And we’ve been trying to get through the last four years of a recession, so being thrown this curve ball  is probably not what we want. But at the same time,  you know, they have to do what they have to do.”

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