Advertisement
Share

German Company Cooks Up Deal to Buy Oven Maker

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A giant German household appliance company said it will buy a Huntington Beach company that makes deluxe Thermador ovens and other appliances geared to upscale households.

BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgerate GmbH of Munich said its acquisition of Thermador will enable it to expand in the robust U.S. market for home appliances.

The German company will acquire Thermador from Michigan-based parent Masco Corp., which plans to focus on its core home renovation businesses.

Advertisement

The companies didn’t disclose terms of the deal, which is set to close by the end of the month.

Assuming the deal proceeds, Thermador would give the German company a “great brand” in the U.S. appliance market, said Hans “Peter” Haase, a Bosch executive. “They have a wonderful range of household appliances, in the European style, which is very popular in your country now.”

The Thermador line of ovens, cooktops, ranges and hoods is geared to upscale homeowners. Prices run from $2,000 for a simple 30-inch-wide range to $8,000 for a 48-inch stainless steel model, with grill, griddle and double ovens.

The company also sells refrigerators and dishwashers made by other companies. This year, Bosch und Siemens’ North Carolina plant began making dishwashers for Thermador.

Haase said the German company plans to retain Thermador’s 500-employee work force. Thermador employs 100 at its headquarters and showroom in Huntington Beach, 250 at its main factory in Vernon and 100 at a smaller plant in Tennessee.

Thermador posted sales of $115 million last year and expects to boost the total to $140 million this year. Officials said the company is profitable but wouldn’t provide specifics.

The company looks to the German firm for support in an industry where sales are up but margins are thinning. Thermador faces competition from both giant full-line appliance makers as well as other small, high-end specialty companies.

Thermador started in Vernon in 1932 as a manufacturer of high-end electrical water heaters and room heaters. It merged shortly before World War II with a manufacturer of Ford Model A bumper parts.

Officials say the company moved into cooking appliances--inventing built-in cooktops and wall ovens--expanded into other markets and went public. In 1981, management took the company private in a deal arranged by the New York leveraged buyout firm Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co. Officials said the deal piled new debt on the books and the company quit investing in new products for its Thermador line.

Masco Corp. of Taylor, Mich., purchased the company in 1985 and revived investments in product development, allowing Thermador to regain market share, officials said.

Bosch und Siemens, which posted sales of $5.33 billion, is a venture jointly owned by two German corporate giants, Robert Bosch GmbH and Siemens AG.


Advertisement