Electrolux to add 810 jobs, doubling its Charlotte presence

efrazier@charlotteobserver.comDecember 20, 2013 

  • About Electrolux

    World headquarters: Stockholm, Sweden

    Sales revenue: $17 billion ($5.1 billion in North America)

    Employees: 58,000 (nearly 1,500 in North Carolina)

    Products: Refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, vacuums and air-conditioners sold under the Electrolux, Frigidaire, Kelvinator, AEG and Eureka brands.

Electrolux is adding 810 workers to its North American headquarters in Charlotte, roughly doubling the size of its operation here.

The Swedish appliance maker also said it would invest $85 million to construct a six-story, 375,000-square-foot building adjacent to its headquarters on David Taylor Drive in the University area.

Gov. Pat McCrory joined company officials in making the announcement Friday.

“These jobs are real jobs for North Carolina,” McCrory said during the ceremony at the company’s Charlotte headquarters. “Thanks to everyone for making it happen.”

The new jobs are in research and development, marketing, design, engineering, supply chain, finance, IT and executive management, the company said. They will be added by the end of 2017; officials said hiring for some posts will begin immediately.

The Electrolux headquarters was lured to Charlotte from Augusta, Ga., in 2009 by state and local incentives of up to $27 million. Those incentives were conditioned on grounds that the company would bring 738 jobs by 2015.

CEO Jack Truong said the company has 760 employees in Charlotte, plus 145 contractors.

He said the new building’s first two floors would house research and development functions, while the others would provide more office space.

While the build-out will take two years, Truong said the impact on the local economy will be immediate as Electrolux engages local architects, designers and construction-related vendors.

The average annual compensation for the new positions is expected to be about $100,000 plus benefits, Truong said. Mecklenburg County’s average annual wage is $57,144.

“Wow, what a grand day,” Mayor Patrick Cannon told the crowd of dignitaries and Electrolux workers gathered just outside the company’s state-of-the-art test kitchen. “Thanks for adding to the tax base.”

Mecklenburg County commissioners’ chairman Trevor Fuller added that the company’s decision represents “a win-win for all of us.” He said the hefty salaries and substantial investment underscore the importance of top-notch science, technology, engineering and math education.

Fuller said the county is providing tax breaks worth $4 million over 10 years as part of the deal. It wasn’t immediately clear what incentives the city might have provided.

‘A long-term relationship’

The governor’s office said the state Economic Investment Committee voted to award a Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) to Electrolux on Friday, contingent on the company fulfilling job-creation and capital-investment targets. Over 12 years, the award could yield benefits to Electrolux of up to $27.4 million, the governor’s office said.

McCrory said the announcement followed extensive talks between himself and Truong, as well as hard work by the Charlotte Chamber, the city and the county.

He noted that Electrolux still has more room to expand on its campus. The company employs nearly 1,500 people in North Carolina, with operations in Kinston and Asheville as well as Charlotte.

“This is a long-term relationship, not only between two individuals, but between a great company and the people of North Carolina,” McCrory said.

Electrolux, based in Stockholm, is the world’s second-largest appliance maker behind Whirlpool. The company has enjoyed strong sales in North America this year, thanks to the recovering U.S. housing market. Company officials have said they expect demand for appliances in the U.S. to grow by as much as 9 percent, helping offset slumping European sales.

The company also has been helped by its expansion into Home Depot, which began carrying Electrolux products in August 2012 and by this summer was accounting for 11.4 percent of the manufacturer’s North American sales.

“One in three cooking products in North America comes from us,” Truong said.

Steady growth since 2010

The first Electrolux employees started work at the company’s University-area offices in July 2010. By 2011, the company said it had more than 500 workers in Charlotte. It announced that it was consolidating additional positions here, bringing 200 more jobs as part of a $14 million capital investment.

By July 2012, the company had finished a 63,000-square-foot expansion to its headquarters building on David Taylor Drive, making it a 278,000-square-foot facility.

It also opened a research and development facility off Hutchison McDonald Road.

Electrolux’s latest expansion is one of the largest jobs announcements of the year for Charlotte. Insurance giant MetLife announced in March it would bring its U.S. retail hub to Charlotte, along with 1,300 jobs. MetLife officials said this month the hub now employs 640, surprassing the company’s goal to create 500 jobs by the end of its first year.

The latest Electrolux news came on the same day officials announced that North Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped in November to 7.4 percent, the lowest level in more than five years.

“This is the kind of news that’s going to continue that trend,” McCrory said. “These are the types of jobs that we love to have.”

Frazier: 704-358-5145; Twitter: @Ericfraz

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