On the cusp of becoming the world’s largest maker of PCs, Lenovo this past week opened its first PC manufacturing facility in the United States, fulfilling a promise to make products closer to the customers buying them. Located near Greensboro in Whitsett, North Carolina, the plant is the first of several such PC-making facilities that Lenovo plans to build in North America and elsewhere around the world.
“Lenovo has achieved record growth and market share in the US PC market, and the Whitsett manufacturing facility will enable us to further expand our presence here,” Lenovo Chairman and CEO Yuanqing Yang said in a prepared statement. “The facility is a demonstration of our commitment to and confidence in the North American market, and we see tremendous opportunities for the continued growth and development of our manufacturing footprint here in the United States.”
Although Lenovo officially announced the opening of the North Carolina plant last week, the firm says it has been operating in some capacity since January and will hit full capacity by the end of the month. Lenovo builds a wide range of PCs and devices at the 240,000-square-foot facility, including the ThinkCentre M92p Tiny desktop, ThinkPad Tablet 2, the ThinkPad Helix convertible Ultrabook, and many others. It has created 115 new manufacturing jobs and is expected to positively increase state output by more than $1 billion.
Lenovo says it will build other similar facilities in North America and elsewhere internationally, as needed. The firm became the world’s biggest maker of portable computers in November 2012 and has defied market slowdowns in the previous two quarters with record PC shipments. It is expected to surpass HP to become the world’s biggest maker of PCs sometime in 2013.
Lenovo originally promised to open its first PC manufacturing plant in the United States back in October, noting at the time that it could save money and improve delivery times for customers.
In the wake of that announcement, Apple tried to steal some of Lenovo’s thunder by claiming that it would contract with a third party to build a single line of Mac PCs in the United States in 2013. But that tiny investment has been derided by critics as being more political than pragmatic, as all of its hardware products are currently made in China, using partners that engage in ongoing worker abuses.
So, ironically, Lenovo is a China-based business building many of its US-based products in the United States, whereas the US-based Apple is building all of its products, US-based and otherwise, in China.