published Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Appliance maker Roper Corp. to expand in LaFayette, Ga.

Stoves move through an assembly line at Roper Corp.'s plant in LaFayette.
Stoves move through an assembly line at Roper Corp.'s plant in LaFayette.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
VIDEO

This story is featured in today's TimesFreePress newscast.

MORE MANUFACTURING NEWS

GM revs up Spring Hill Tenn., facility

ROPER CORP.

• Established 1973

• 1,500 workers

• Plant covers 1.1 million square feet, or 25 acres of its 62-acre campus

Source: Roper Corp.

Roper Corp. will spend $88 million on an expansion at its LaFayette, Ga., plant, as part of a $1 billion investment that GE is making in its cooking products production lines.

The additional production line will bring new jobs to a plant that was forced to cut workers during the recession, a turnabout that has drawn the attention of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson — both of whom will speak to the plant’s 1,500 workers Friday.

Roper Corp., a subsidiary of GE Appliances, sent 300 employees home during the recession because of a lack of work, as demand for stoves and ovens plummeted by more than a third amid a general housing malaise.

The largest non-government employer in Walker County eventually brought most of those workers back, and it could add dozens more as part of GE’s “insourcing” initiative.

The initiative seeks to move major operations back to U.S. plants from overseas, where many plants were moved during the 1990s by manufacturers seeking sources of cheap labor. Advances in automation technology, increased shipping expenses, exchange rate fluctuations and rising overseas labor costs have brought many of those operations back to the U.S.

Scott Ossewaarde, president of Roper, credited the plant’s location and lean manufacturing methods with its survival through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

“We have a geographic advantage, because being located in middle America gives us a transportation edge,” he told the Times Free Press in 2010.

Officials would not comment on the number of new workers or the exact nature of the expansion, though a spokeswoman said the plant would be producing raw materials that were formerly shipped in from suppliers. Deal is expected to reveal more details when he visits later this week.

The last big investment was in 2008, when Roper invested $165 million in improvements and expansions.

Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6315.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement
400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.