With the vast majority of manufacturing moving to countries that offer lower-wage workers, products that display the “Made in the U.S.A ” sticker wear it like a badge of honor.
This isn’t just blind patriotism either, buying American has plenty of amazing direct and indirect benefits to both the consumer, as well as the country, as a whole. Buying products made in the USA supports local jobs, an estimated 5.7 million of which were lost between 1998 and 2012, partly due to the rise in international manufacturing. Buying locally sourced products also contributes to lower carbon emissions, less pollution, and fewer human rights violations in under-developed countries.
For the companies that have managed to navigate higher production costs and retain their manufacturing facilities in North America, it certainly doesn’t go unnoticed. Perception Research Services International found that four out of five consumers will take notice when a product is marked as made in the USA and of that, 76% are willing to pay a higher premium because of it.
When it comes to domestic appliances and electrical goods though, our choice of American-made products is pretty restricted. Unsurprisingly, China is the leading manufacturer of domestic appliances and consumer electronics, accounting for 80% of TV production, over 72% of toasters, and 50% for refrigerators.
Of the handful of companies that still manufacture appliances in the USA, there is one that is leading the charge; Whirlpool Corporation. In fact, Whirlpool claims that 80% of the products sold within America are manufactured within the country, and alleges to employ more American workers than all of their major competitors combined.
The company manufactures almost every appliance you can think of, both under their own name as well as other brand names including; KitchenAid, Maytag, JennAir, and Amana.
Currently, nine of the company’s 35 manufacturing facilities are based in the USA. Here, the company employs over 22,000 workers, 15,000 of which are directly involved in the manufacturing process of their commercial and domestic products. As a result, Whirlpool spends over $7.4 billion annually on operating and maintaining its factories in Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
Of all Whirlpool’s brands, KitchenAid is unquestionably up there with my favorite. KitchenAid stand mixers are the stuff of legends, although their entire appliance range oozes sophisticated elegance.
But, have you ever wondered where KitchenAid appliances are made? Is KitchenAid made in China? Or are these American-made appliances the real deal? I found myself pondering over this question recently, so I decided to do some serious digging into the origins of some of KitchenAid’s most popular appliances in an attempt to find out where they are really made.
Here’s what I discovered!
Where are KitchenAid Appliances made?
Because the KitchenAid product range is so vast, its appliances are made at various facilities. Many of these are based in the USA, although can be found in Europe, and of course, China.
I want to point out that many companies, KitchenAid included, are cautious when it comes to using the term ‘Made in the USA’. May prefer the term ‘assembled’ over ‘made’. More often than not, many of the components within these appliances are shipped from overseas, so companies try to avoid making bold claims on the origins of their products.
The KitchenAid stand mixer is the centerpiece of the company’s appliance range. It’s the appliance that put KitchenAid on the map, after all the company (then owned by Hobart) did invent the first-ever stand mixer, the ‘Model H-5’, in 1919. Their now-iconic tilt-head models, originally named the Model K, were launched in 1937 and marked the start of KitchenAid’s dominance in the stand mixer market.
Since 1919, every Kitchenaid stand mixer has been made at their factory in Greenville, Ohio. It is just one of five manufacturing facilities that Whirlpool operates in the Midwestern state, although Greenville is certainly one of the most prominent.
Every KitchenAid stand mixer in the last 100 years has been assembled in this factory by a team of skilled workers, including the original Model H-5 in 1919. Unsurprisingly, the 650,000 square feet factory is the largest employer in the Greenville area, contributing over 1400 jobs to the local community.
A great deal of hand assembly and craftsmanship is involved with assembling KitchenAid stand mixers, with each mixer being meticulously tested before being packed up and shipped out.
If you want to see how KitchenAid stand mixers are made, I recommend you have a quick look at this video. It’s seriously impressive stuff!
While I suspect some of the electronic components originate from further afield, the mixer gears are manufactured in the US and the Zinc-alloy body is made by PHB, an American die-casting manufacturer. That said, I believe the vast majority of KitchenAid stand mixer attachments aren’t made in the USA.
KitchenAid might be world-renowned for their gorgeous range of stand mixers but let’s not forget about their popular range of hand mixers.
The first KitchenAid hand mixer was released in 1922 and since then its line has expanded to 5 models, one of which is their new cordless mixer. While Kitchenaid hand mixers are now made in the USA, this hasn’t always been the case. Between 2006 and 2012, Whirlpool moved its production of hand mixers to China in an attempt to lower production costs.
Due to popular demand, KitchenAid brought back the production of their hand mixers to the USA in 2012. Since then, all their corded mixers have been made in their factory in Greenville. The decision paid off, with the company reporting a huge increase in demand for their, now American-made, hand mixers.
In August 2016 Whirlpool announced a $17 million expansion to the Greenville factory to help accommodate the growing demand for their hand mixers, creating the opportunity for 200 new jobs. That same year, the company also reported hitting the milestone of producing over 1 million hand mixers at the Greenville factory in a single year.
Another popular product in the KitchenAid line is their food blenders. Blenders are a relatively new offering in the KitchenAid range, with the first KitchenAid blender hitting the shelves in the early 1990s. Nevertheless, their range of blenders has proved to be a hit, now expanded to 4 models, including the Pro Lines series that was introduced in 2016. This blender has a monstrous 3.5 horsepower motor, making it the most powerful blender for home use ever made.
Like its mixers, KitchenAid blenders are made in Greenville, Ohio. As well as churning out thousands of mixers, the factory produces over 500 blenders a day.
As with a handful of other small appliances, KitchenAid toasters are made in China. This is hardly surprising, as I mentioned earlier, a whopping 72% of all toasters are produced in China.
Why is almost every toaster on this planet made in Asia, I hear you ask? If you look at the KitchenAid toaster range, these appliances retail for as little as $50. Producing products at such a low price point in a first-world country would be financially unfeasible.
It might be KitchenAid’s stand mixers that get the lion’s share of love from its loyal fans but Whirlpool’s hold on the dishwasher market is arguably even more impressive.
In fact, Whirlpool Corporation is a global leader when it comes to manufacturing dishwashers, the company represented 35% of total sales in the USA in 2015, with sales spread across their five brands (KitchenAid, Maytag, Whirlpool, Amana, and Jenn-Air). Even on their own, the Whirlpool and Maytag dishwashers lines represent 15% and 17% of all the dishwashers sold in the USA in the same year.
Every KitchenAid dishwasher sold in the USA, along with their other aforementioned brands, is manufactured in Findlay, Ohio. This gigantic, million-square-foot, factory is the largest dishwasher factory in the world. The facility is still growing too, including a $40.6 million renovation in 2016 that added an additional 86,400 square feet and an extra 50 new jobs to the facility.
A mind-boggling 13,000 to 14,000 dishwashers roll off the factory floor every single day. This is made possible because of the 2,200 strong army of factory workers, and an efficient manufacturing process that sees components hanging on assembly lines that snake around the factory floor.
KitchenAid currently has 7 different food processor models in their line, which range in capacity, motor power, and price.
These small appliances sit on the lower price range for KitchenAid goods, with models currently retailing between $30 – $200, which would make it financially unfeasible to manufacture them in the USA.
KitchenAid food processors are currently outsourced to Chinese manufacturers, although are built to KitchenAid’s strict specifications. Whirlpool isn’t the only one to manufacture their food processors in China either. You will be hard-pressed to find any food processors made outside of Asia, perhaps with the expedition of Magimix, which is made in France.
Your KitchenAid refrigerator could have been built in any number of manufacturing facilities, depending on the year and style of the refrigerator.
Between 1986 and 2008, built-in KitchenAid refrigerators were manufactured in Lavergne, Tennessee. For decades, the factory, and its 1000 strong workforce, specialized in building air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and built-in refrigerators. As this video shows, the Lavergne plant made its refrigerators virtually from scratch, and with a great deal of manual labor.
In June 2007, Whirlpool announced they would be phasing out the production of air purifiers and dehumidifiers, leading to the layoff of 330 employees. A year later, the company announced the complete closure of the factory. It was a very similar story for Evansville, Indiana factory too.
After the closure, the production of refrigerators moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas between 2008-2012. This was short-lived however after the global recession saw demand for new refrigerators slump. In mid-2012, Whirlpool closed the Fort Smith plant, ultimately cutting the remaining 1000 jobs at the plant.
The production of built-in refrigerators once again moved, this time to the Whirlpool factory in Amana, Iowa, where it remains today.
The production of freestanding and side by side refrigerators was transferred to Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, where they make french door refrigerators. In July 2021, Whirlpool announced a $150 million expansion of its Ramos Arizpe plant. The investment will add 1000 new job opportunities to the plant, taking the total number of employees to over 4000, and expanding the facility by 30,000 square feet. Interestingly, 90% of the products made at the plant are exported to the USA & Canada.
Ranges & Cooktops
KitchenAid’s line of ranges currently encompasses four categories; Slide-in, Freestanding, double oven, and commercial-style. Regardless of which one you look at, the KitchenAid line represents some of the best American-made ranges money can buy.
So, where are KitchenAid ranges made? KitchenAid ranges and cooktops are made in the USA, most of which are built in their factory in Cleveland, Tennessee.
The Cleveland factory is Whirlpool’s newest manufacturing facility in America. The plant opened its doors in 2012, replacing the old factory that had been in operation for 123 years. The $200 million project saw the creation of a brand new, 1 million square foot facility, providing an additional 130 new jobs opportunities to the local area. The factory quickly became the largest employer in the county, with over 2000 staff working at the Cleveland plant.
The factory consists of 16 assembly lines that are used to manufacture various ranges and cooktops for the Whirlpool-owned brands.
Although their range previously included a line of stovetop kettles, these have since been discounted and now consist completely of electric kettles. There are seven different models, including their new, and slightly pricey, Gooseneck kettles.
As far as I can tell, all KitchenAid kettles are made in China. Whirlpool doesn’t seem to have a manufacturing facility in the USA that specializes in manufacturing kettles, and KitchenAid customer support is reluctant to give a definitive answer about the country of origin of these appliances. That’s a sure sign that the KitchenAid kettle range isn’t made in the USA.
KitchenAid teamed up with Nexgrill, a USA-based company established in 1993, to work on their line of outdoor grills. There are 19 grills currently in the range, consisting of a mix of freestanding, built-in, and island grills.
Interestingly, unlike almost all of their other products, KitchenAid doesn’t actually make their grills, instead, Nexgrill license the KitchenAid brand name. KitchenAid isn’t the only brand that Nexgrill makes grills under either, they also make grills for brands such as Grill Master, Member’s Mark, and Jenn-Air.
While Nexgrill headquarters are based in California, all its products are manufactured in China.
Born in America, made for the world!
Although Whirpool has nine manufacturing facilities throughout America, in reality, this multi-billion dollar company is a global giant. They have 32 manufacturing facilities on almost every continent, making every kitchen appliance you can think of for their global customer base.
When it comes to their KitchenAid appliances, it’s clear Whirpool has tried to stay true to its American roots. And while they might not make every single appliance on American soil, it’s great the iconic KitchenAid stand mixer, and many of the larger appliances are still made in the USA.
If you want to find out the origins of an appliance I haven’t covered here, then your best bet is to get in touch with KitcehanAid or check the Q&A section of their website. If you see a reply like this, it’s a sure sign that the product you are looking at isn’t made in the USA:
“Kitchenaid holds the same quality control standards at each of our facilities around the world. Since we are a global corporation, some components may come from another KitchenAid facility inside or outside of the United States. We take pride in delivering you the highest quality product and understand you’re concerned about this matter.”
If you are curious about Whirlpool’s American manufacturing facilities, then take a look at their #Placesthatmatter campaign, where they shine a spotlight on the places and people within the Corporation.