the working environment, company culture and the opportunity to teach people a
Gail Bierly, the
most veteran member we spoke to, has
given more than 40
years to KitchenAid.
To Bierly, the ability
to work on an iconic
product while receiving great benefits
has kept her with the
same company for so
Aside from the
retention of their
workforce, the camaraderie between the
senior leadership team and the associates is also apparent on the shop floor.
According to Kenneth R. Hossler, plant
leader at the Greenville plant, it's because
every member of the leadership team is
present on the floor every day.
Not only does this constant presence
improve the team mentality of the facility, but it allows leadership to ensure
quality standards are always met. In fact,
as far as Hossler could remember, they've
never issued a recall on the stand mixer.
“Quality is not a quality department’s
function – quality is everyone’s function,” says Hossler. “If we have a quality
issue, it’s not a quality department’s
problem, it’s a Greenville opportunity.
Every time we do a Lean event, part of it
is focused on safety, quality, delivery and
cost – in that order.”
And according to Schroeder, Lean at
KitchenAid isn’t just a big initiative or an
event. “We want it to be day in and day
out and shop floor focused. Whirlpool is
a continuously improving organization.
There are challenges and business initiatives that we need to meet, but there
are a million ways you can pursue those
improvements. We give our associates
those challenges and allow them to drive
the improvements in the path that makes
the most sense for them.”
BUILT IN THE USA
Recently, some of these challenges
and opportunities have been spurred by
Whirlpool’s decision to reshore some
production from China and Mexico to
the Greenville facility.
According to Hossler, bringing pro-
duction of the KitchenAid hand mixer
back from China was an easy decision
for Whirlpool. “We are in the heart of
the marketplace. We are a global com-
pany and we’re growing globally, but
about 70 percent of the product is built
for the U.S.”
To be classified “Made in the USA”
companies must follow stringent guide-
lines. According to Hossler, they have
never done a breakdown of what percent-
age of the final product materials and
man hours are sourced from America, but
he says the vast majority of the weight of
the product certainly is. “The calculation
is really complicated, so a lot of compa-
nies don’t claim that anymore – they just
say designed and built in the USA, which
our products are. Our earning model is
‘Invested in America, and designed and
built in the USA.’”
The hand mixer, which was once pro-
duced in China, returned to America in
July 2012. Hossler says that they are pro-
ducing close to 900,000 hand mixers per
year in Greenville for less than what they
were made for in China, and at a higher
quality than ever.
Much of this cost cutting is in the
form of logistics savings. “When you’re
insourcing things, you have duties that
They can help.
The KitchenAid facility in Greenville has expanded the past
five years. Steady hiring keeps the training staff busy as
new associates are brought up to speed.