Seeking to establish a strong brand presence in the high-end home market among architects and designers, builders and retail dealers throughout Northern California and the West, LG Electronics USA Inc. picked Napa Valley for its first U.S. Signature Kitchen Suite Experience and Design Center.
Located in a south Napa business park, the 23,000-square-foot brand showroom (www.signaturekitchen.com) features 200 LG home appliances. The center has about 20 rooms, including showrooms with kitchen and laundry appliances, a conference center, teaching kitchen, artificial intelligence "lifestyle zone," community room, bar room and VIP dining room.
The Business Journal a year and a half ago reported on the site selection for the showroom, but the company was tight-lipped about the details until now. It turns out that the project was put on hold after the 2017-2018 wildfires that struck the North Bay. According to a company executive, LG did not want a commercial project to delay trades from focusing on the reconstruction process during recovery.
PART OF NATIONWIDE INVESTMENTS
“This first Signature Kitchen Suite is a key milestone for LG home appliances in the United States, making this a momentous day," said William Cho, president and CEO of LG North America, at the Jan. 11 ribbon-cutting for the Napa facility. "We’re committed to innovation and product leadership.”
He said LG is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new facilities across the nation. That includes Experience & Design Center locations such as Napa; what's said to be the world’s most advanced washing machine factory, located in Tennessee; a new solar panel factory in Alabama; a vehicle components plant in Michigan; and a $350 million new LG North America corporate headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, scheduled for completion in 2020. The estimated cost for the Napa center is under $10 million.
While rising tariffs have caused a slowdown in sales for LG in Asia, at the January Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I.P. Park, chief technology officer of LG Electronics, said the company has absorbed the effects of tariffs on sales by building factories in the U.S.
Last year, the Trump administration’s 20 percent tariff increase on washing machines alone affected 1.2 million imports with the prospect of more increases this year. Washing machines had a record price increase of 18.2 percent from March to June 2018, making it the largest-ever quarterly increase in 40 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
NAPA IDEAL FOR REACHING FOOD-CENTRIC PROFESSIONALS
LG considers Napa to be the heart of a region that is one of the foremost culinary destinations with its top-rated wineries, restaurants and education centers along with many hospitality venues for tourists and locals alike.
“Napa is the ideal location," said Zack Elkins, general manager of Signature Kitchen Suite and LG for Builders. "Establishing our base here gives us unmatched access to the best vintners, farmers, ranchers, fishermen and other craftspeople living a mission every day that is true to food.”
Company officials believe this new center’s portfolio caters to a new generation of forward-thinking cooks — who LG calls Technicurians — combining a passion for food and appreciation for innovation.
The Napa center has a fully equipped demonstration kitchen where product experts can experience hands-on training from outside culinary chefs, in partnership with local wineries and produce farms. The AI Lifestyle Zone will enable those coming to see how LG’s array of home appliances can help them create a smart home ecosystem for their clients.