In June last year, Samsung announced an investment of $380 million in South Carolina to manufacture home appliances. It was seen as Samsung’s response to the Trump government’s rhetoric and policy of protectionism. Samsung’s investment was estimated to create around 950 jobs by 2020. The company has hired about 650 employees so far and is on track to reach its target with the new expansion plans.
Samsung plans to expand its production facilities at the 450,000 square-foot plant in Newberry, South Carolina. The company has started a new line for making top-loading washing machines at the facility, in addition to a line for front-loading washing machines it started earlier this year.
Samsung took over the property from Caterpillar when it decided to close its electric generator packaging facility. Samsung modified Caterpillar’s property to make it suitable for its production facility. Since Samsung didn’t build everything from scratch, the company was able to get two production lines up and running in less than a year. 10% of the Samsung’s 650 full-time employees at the facility are former Caterpillar employees.
Samsung has about 100 employees from South Korea on-site to get the new facility up and running. The on-site assistance from South Korean employees is aimed at equipping the South Carolina employees with skills required to run the facility’s high-tech machines. Samsung expects the plant to be running at full capacity by this summer. Most of the work at the production facility is automated with robots which ensure higher productivity and fewer scratches compared to human handling.
Against Samsung’s advice, the Trump administration has imposed tariffs on imported washing machines as part of the strategy to revive domestic manufacturing. So, making washing machines locally in the US may help Samsung overcome some of the cost disadvantages and negative perception emanating from the Trump government’s protectionist measures.