GREENVILLE – “If you can’t get excited about what we’re about to encounter – check your pulse,” said Ken Hossler, Greenville KitchenAid plant manager. The company broke ground on a $40 million expansion project that will nearly double the size of the current facility on Aug. 6. The tent where the groundbreaking took place was filled with Whirlpool/KitchenAid, local, and state officials. The stars of the show were the hundreds of workers wearing orange KitchenAid shirts declaring “Growing Business, Simply by the Way it’s Made.” The message was clear from every speaker – the reason Whirlpool chose to expand its operation in Greenville is because of the workforce.
Dave Elliott, general manager of Global KitchenAid and Small Appliances, said in five years the company has nearly doubled its stand mixer production. With the stand mixer celebrating its 95th anniversary this year, Elliott said, “The thing that has given it its longevity is the quality. The quality is unbelievable. I believe it’s the best in the industry. The reason we have that quality is you folks.”
Two of the company’s longtime employees were invited to represent the entire workforce during the groundbreaking. Rick Smith and Mary Knisley have been with company for over 40 years. Both started while they were still in their teens and both were there when KitchenAid was owned by Hobart Corporation. Knisley said she first started working for the company in Troy, but Smith has been at the Greenville plant for his entire career. While the officials were praising the workforce, Smith and Knisley were praising the company. When asked why they had been there for so long, both said, “It’s a good place to work.” As for the company’s signature product, the stand mixer, Smith said, “Not much has changed in the product.” Knisley added, “Just more of it and different colors.”
James Keppler, vice-president of integrated supply chain and quality for the North American region, aimed his remarks at Smith, Knisley and the rest of the workforce gathered for the event, “You can duplicate processes, but ultimately we have one asset here in Greenville that would be almost impossible to duplicate. Our greatest asset is the workforce here in Greenville.” He pointed out many companies aspire to zero defects. “It’s becoming a reality. It’s a part of the plan right here in Greenville.”
Greenville Mayor Mike Bowers added his praise for the workforce and commented Growing Business, Simply by the Way it’s Made is a testament. “We get to add a little bit to that today. It’s also Growing the Business, Simply by Where it’s Made,” said the mayor. “You, the workforce, made this possible.”
Andrew Carlton, of JobsOhio, noted the impact this workforce is making goes far beyond the company’s doors. The employees go back to their homes and communities and expand that impact. “It’s not just doubling the square footage. It’s not just adding 400 jobs. It’s building, expanding, and creating a community.”
Officials from Whirlpool/KitchenAid, joined local and state government representatives for a groundbreaking ceremony. Recognized for their longevity were Rick Smith and Mary Knisley. Both have been producing stand mixers for over 40 years.