Electrolux said Tuesday it will relocate a laundry-products research center from Iowa to Charlotte, bringing 80 jobs and pushing its Charlotte employment past 800 as the appliance company further expands and centralizes its North American headquarters.
The new positions will include engineering, product design and testing, company officials said. Those product design and testing functions will be stopped at the companys Webster City, Iowa, facility in the third quarter of 2013.
Electrolux expects the move will build on the design, testing and marketing capabilities already in place at its complex in Charlottes University Research Park. The company also has significant engineering and design operations at a facility on Statesville Road.
We are increasing our R&D investment, moving closer to major science, engineering and technology universities and leveraging on the state-of-the-art research facilities that we already have in Charlotte, Chris Harris said in a statement. He is vice president of laundry and dish-care products for Electrolux Major Appliances North America.
Electrolux spokeswoman Eloise Hale wouldnt say whether Electrolux will seek to further consolidate its research and design capabilities in Charlotte. This is the only announcement were making today, she said.
The new Charlotte jobs will all be focused on washing machines and dryers, said Hale. Product testing in that group includes tests to see how long appliances will last, such as continually opening and closing a dryer door, or running a washing machine continually with a load of heavy towels in it.
The engineering and design work focuses more on innovative designs, such as washing machines that use less water. Electroluxs capabilities in Charlotte include a high-tech computer-assisted design center. The wall-sized screen is fed by a bank of projectors the size of a small car that shows a three-dimensional virtual model of a potential product, eliminating the weeks-long process of designing physical prototypes.
In 2009, Electrolux announced it would move its North American headquarters to Charlotte from Augusta, Ga.
The company was lured in part by state and local incentives worth up to $27 million if it brought 738 jobs by 2015. The companys Charlotte headcount passed 750 this year.
Hale said the employees in Iowa will be eligible for any open positions in the company. Harris said in his statement that Electrolux will help them with their transition.
This was a difficult but necessary decision, Harris said. The company is committed to assisting our Webster City employees and we are making this announcement nearly a year in advance to help with the transition. Observer staff writer John Arwood contributed.