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Samsung launches second production line in Newberry

Manufacturing
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Samsung has launched a second production line at its washing machine manufacturing facility in Newberry County. The line will produce top-load washers.

The Newberry plant is Samsung’s first U.S.-based home appliance manufacturing facility. It began producing front-load washing machines in January.

“We are thrilled to now be producing twice as many washing machines in Newberry County,” said plant manager Tony Fraley. “This couldn’t have happened without a talented, energetic workforce, which we’ve found in South Carolina.”

Samsung Electronics Home Appliance America also announced two new hires to the Newberry leadership team. Thomas Komaromi, who spent the last 10 years as chief in-house counsel for various General Electric businesses, will serve as general counsel, while Sherri Satterfield joins Samsung as director of human relations for environmental health and safety and general affairs.

To date, Samsung has hired more than 650 full-time employees at the Newberry facility, with more than 90% of the hires from the county and surrounding communities, the company said in a news release. The workforce, evenly split between men and women, includes more than 100 full-time former employees of the Caterpillar plant, which closed in April 2016, and almost 1,000 construction contractors previously employed by V.C. Summer, site of the abandoned nuclear reactor project co-owned by S.C. Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper.

“We know our timelines have been aggressive, but the faster we are up and running, the faster we can employ nearly 1,000 people, which is our goal,” Fraley said. 

Samsung officially opened the Newberry facility on Jan. 12, 11 days before President Donald Trump, acting on recommendations from the International Trade Commission, levied tariffs on foreign-made washing machines. The ITC found that South Korea-based Samsung and LG Electronics violated anti-dumping regulations by producing washing machines overseas and importing them to the U.S. at artificially low prices.

The first 1.2 million washing machines imported this year will face a 20% tax, with additional imports facing a 50% tax. Washing machine parts will also be subject to a 50% tax. The tariffs decline to 18% for the first 1.2 million imports next year, with a 45% tax on additional washers and covered parts, and to 16% and 40% in the third and final year.

While some American manufacturers say the measures are necessary to protect sales, Samsung called the tariffs “a great loss for American consumers and workers,” saying, “This tariff is a tax on every consumer who wants to buy a washing machine. Everyone will pay more, with fewer choices.”

It remains unclear how the tariffs will affect the Newberry plant, but state leaders have signaled their support for Samsung. S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster said he reassured company representatives that South Carolina is committed to protecting the manufacturer’s investment, and he invited Joon So, president of Samsung Electronics Home Appliances America, and Fraley to his State of the State address on Jan. 25.

The $380 million, 450,000-square-foot Newberry facility, housed in the former Caterpillar plant that left 352 jobless when it shuttered, began producing washing machines six months after its arrival was announced in June 2017. Samsung plans to produce 1 million washing machines at the plant this year and has said it expects to hire 954 people by 2020.

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