Bloomberg News

GE’s Campbell to Retire as Blankenship Takes on Appliances

December 13, 2011

(Updates with Campbell’s age in the second paragraph.)

Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co.’s James P. Campbell, who presided over a $1 billion investment and the first new product line to come out of the appliance unit’s headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, in half a century, is retiring.

Campbell, 54, is stepping down after three decades at the company, including 11 years overseeing appliances, Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE said today in a statement. Charles Blankenship, known as Chip, will succeed Campbell as chief executive officer of the appliances unit on Dec. 31. Blankenship currently runs the commercial division of GE Aviation, the world’s largest jet-engine maker.

GE has invested more than $1 billion in its appliance unit since 2009, creating more than 1,000 jobs as Campbell worked with unions to pare expenses, partly by cutting starting wages for production employees.

Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt has said he’s bringing appliance jobs back from China and Mexico because U.S. workers were making higher-quality products for lower overall costs. Immelt, who had put the division up for sale in 2008 along with the lighting unit, retained it amid the global recession and decided to invest instead.

A hybrid water heater designed to come off the line in GE’s Appliance Park in Louisville represents the first new product line to be made there in more than 50 years, spokeswoman Kim Freeman said.

Blankenship, who joined GE in 1992, has presided over record orders for new products at GE Aviation, including the more-efficient GEnx engine now on Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner. He has held positions at the aviation unit since 1996.

--Editors: Jeffrey Tannenbaum, Stephen West

To contact the reporter on this story: Rachel Layne in Boston at rlayne@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net


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