Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fisher & Paykel in the U.S.A.

At a time when many manufacturers are eyeing low-cost locales in Mexico or Asia, a New Zealand manufacturer of washers and dryers has set up shop in Ohio. Fisher & Paykel is a well-known brand in the Australian and New Zealand market, with a focus on energy and water efficient laundry appliances. The company produces direct-drive (no belt) and top-loading clothes washers, and dishwashers with pull-out drawers (the DishDrawer).

In 2005, F&P announced plans to move production of their SmartDrive washer line from Brisbane, Australia to Clyde, Ohio. The move was prompted by a desire to be close to North American markets so that freight costs are reduced and products can be delivered to customers more quickly. The new facility in Clyde, OH also makes sense because Clyde is home to a large division of Whirlpool and the two companies have had alliances in the past. F&P produces motors for Whirlpool and distributes Whirlpool products in New Zealand. In January 2007, F&P announced that its new AquaSmart clothes washer, which has energy and water saving features, will be assembled at the Clyde, OH facility.

When Fisher & Paykel was beginning its U.S. production, I was contacted by a representative of the company who was interested in official “Made in USA” labeling requirements so that the company could emphasize the fact that their products were being manufactured in the U.S. The move to the U.S. seems to be paying off; the company reports in their Annual Report for 2005-2006 that U.S. sales are now the largest source of revenue (38 percent of appliance sales), exceeding revenues from Australian or New Zealand.

If a company such as Fisher & Paykel recognizes the value of the American market, and feels that “Made in USA” is an important marketing theme, perhaps some of our own manufacturers will wake to the growing interest among U.S. shoppers to “buy American.”

Stephanie, Webmaster