GE Appliances Celebrates 70 Years of Innovation for American Homes from its Headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky

May 22nd 2023

The first ”sign” of the coming of Appliance Park was a billboard located on the farmland running parallel to Shepherdsville Road in 1950.Elfun Historical Society, 1987, A Walk Through the Park

In 1953, GE Appliances shipped its first appliance – a dryer – from its Appliance Park campus in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past 70 years, Louisville has been the largest manufacturing site, research and development center and the hub for innovations that shape how American families live.

"For seven decades, Appliance Park has been a pioneer in the home appliance industry," said Kevin Nolan, president and CEO of GE Appliances, a Haier company. "Here in Louisville, GE Appliances invents and builds products that help improve life in the home for families across the country. Today’s milestone is made possible thanks to great employees and the support of valued consumers, customers and community partners who trust and choose us. As we look to the future, we're more energized than ever to continue serving as a leader in American manufacturing and as a good corporate citizen of our hometown community. Through continued investments at Appliance Park, we're developing even smarter products, breakthrough solutions, and quality experiences that simplify and bring value to people's lives."

Since 2016, GE Appliances (GEA) has invested $2 billion in new products and advanced manufacturing technology for its nine plants and nationwide distribution network to support its strategy to be closer to customers and consumers. More than $800 million of the total investment has been spent in Kentucky.

  • The headquarters and manufacturing operations in Louisville contribute more than $7.4 billion to Kentucky’s gross domestic product (GDP).
  • The company buys $517 million from approximately 640 Kentucky suppliers.
  • In 2022, GEA announced a partnership with Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI), Louisville’s Metro Chamber of Commerce, to recruit and develop diverse suppliers to improve economic inclusion in Louisville and support the company’s goal to spend $1 billion with diverse suppliers by 2030.

“You can find a GE appliance in half of all U.S. homes thanks to the thousands of employees who have worked here at Appliance Park through the years to produce more than 240 million appliances,” said Peter Pepe, vice president of clothes care for GE Appliances, whose team sits in AP1 – the first manufacturing plant at Appliance Park. “The legacy of innovation that we continue to build on would not be possible without our terrific employees. They make the best appliances in the world.”

From inventing the self-clean oven to the recently launched award-winning, all-in-one GE Profile™ Combination washer/dryer, finding a better way remains the focus for GE Appliances in Louisville. Today, building on the legacy of Thomas Edison, more than 1,600 engineers work throughout 80-plus high-tech labs and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities to design and manufacture the latest home appliances, and 6,000 production associates build appliances in five large plants across the massive campus. In total, GE Appliances employs more than 8,500 people in Louisville.

In 1954, the first computer ever developed for industry, the Remington Rand UNIVAC, was turned over to GE Appliance Park. Harvard Business Review described it as the ”beginning of a revolution.”Elfun Historical Society, 1987, A Walk Through the Park

Key innovations developed by GE Appliances in Louisville include:

  • 2023 – Launched first smart mixer in the U.S. -- GE Profile™ Smart Mixer with Auto Sense
  • 2023 – Announced the new GE Profile UltraFast Combo with Ventless Heat Pump Technologywith 50% more energy efficient drying in June of 2023
  • 2022 – Engineered the first washer with built-in Amazon Alexa
  • 2021– First in the industry to deploy cooking modes such as Air Fry, Turkey mode and Steakhouse modes via over-the-air software updates to previously purchased appliances
  • 2019 – GEA shut the door on front-loader odor with its new GE Profile frontload washer with its UltraFresh Vent system with OdorBlock™ featuring unique venting and Microban technology
  • 2018 – Launch of new CAFÉ brand that brings customizable appliances to the mass premium consumer with interchangeable hardware
  • 2016 – First ventless, electric indoor pizza oven
  • 2015 – First and only to launch a refrigerator with a built-in K-Cup® brewing system
  • 2014 – FirstBuild, GE Appliances co-creation, maker space and microfactory launches on the University of Louisville campus, jumpstarting new product ideas
  • 2013 – Firstconnected wall oven launches
  • 2003 – Producing great food quickly was the focus of the GE Profile Ovens with Trivection Technology launch. The technology used a combination of three heating methods – radiant, convection and microwave – to cook food up to five times faster than a conventional oven.
  • 1999 – Launched the Advantium™ speed cooking oven using halogen light and microwave technology to cook foods 2-8 times faster
  • 1995 – First smart dishwasher: auto sensing to gauge soiled dishes
  • 1983 – Launch of fully automated assembly line producing plastic tub dishwashers
  • 1980 – Introduction of the “Time Maker” range with combination conventional/microwave oven to help prepare meals more quickly
  • 1978 – First above-the-range microwave to free up valuable counter space
  • 1971 – First portable room air conditioner
  • 1969 – First custom through-the-refrigerator-door ice and water dispenser
  • 1963 – First self-cleaning oven
  • 1962 – First packaged terminal air conditioner: the Zoneline®
  • 1955 – The Filter-Flo® System for automatic washers invented at Appliance Park to keep the water clean by removing lint and other particles

GEA’s history in Louisville

  • The original plot of 900-plus acres of farmland for Appliance Park was purchased in 1950 by General Electric.
  • The groundbreaking of the first manufacturing plant – Building 1 – happened in July of 1951.
  • It would take two years to build up the facilities before shipping the first product on February 6, 1953.
  • Later in 1953, the first dishwashers and ranges were shipped.
  • With a legacy of firsts, Appliance Park was one of the first industrial parks in the U.S. and home to the first commercial UNIVAC computer.
  • Appliance Park boasts its own zip code – 40225 – and the current campus sits on 750 acres.

From sponsoring the very first Kentucky Derby Festival 50 years ago to investing more than $50 million over the last 10 years in public schools and community organizations, GE Appliances has been a part of positively impacting the Louisville community for generations. GEA’s community investments have helped provide inclusive events, break down barriers, increase access to educational opportunities and connect people with the resources they need to be successful.