By Lucy Berry DeButy
This article appears in the June 2018 issue of Initiatives Magazine.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (June 1, 2018) – Few businesses have witnessed technology change like LG Electronics Alabama, Inc.
The Huntsville operation wasn’t always LG’s sole customer service division for the North American market. The company, originally known as GoldStar, started as a manufacturing facility for color television sets when it opened on James Record Road in 1980.
With four buildings spanning 400,000 square feet, the company began making other products, including microwave ovens and VHS tapes. It wasn’t until just before the beginning of the new millennium that LGEAI got out of manufacturing to concentrate solely on customer service. LG Electronics Human Resources Senior Manager Patrick Dickey said the operation now focuses on differentiated customer service.
“When we transitioned to customer service and customer relationship management, our workforce and mindset also transitioned,” he said. “Transitioning from manufacturing and the work processes that comes with that, to creative thinking of opportunities for customer satisfaction is uniquely different.”
Since December of 2016, LGEAI has been led by President Joseph Yoo. President Yoo has been with LG Electronics since 1990, and has global management experience in Korea, Indonesia, France and the Netherlands. Mr. Yoo fosters the importance of customer satisfaction and engrains this into LG’s culture daily.
LGEAI continues to grow. The company currently has over 550 employees, about half of whom are based in Huntsville. The division employs 250 technicians in major metro locations across the U.S. with plans to expand to 320 by the end of the year.
LGEAI employees handle a variety of tasks – from providing technical and customer support to performing in-home repair for LG appliance and home electronics products. LGEAI’s B2B (Business to Business) service is expanding as well with its Five-Star Service Program designed to provide a dedicated service technician to hospitality locations in major metro areas. In addition to its Huntsville site, the company operates a mobile device refurbishment center in Fort Worth, Texas, and a parts distribution warehouse in Fontana, Calif.
Dickey said LGEAI employees provide a quicker, more personal customer service experience compared to industry competitors. LG technicians also have the knowledge and understanding of how to not only repair products but repair customer relationships as well.
As LGEAI expands its workforce, Dickey said applicants who have a passion for innovation will have a leg up in the hiring process.
“If you’re staying the same, you’re not growing and you’re not remaining competitive with your competitors,” he said. “We’re looking for constant innovation, not only within our products but within our customer service and the employees we hire for that.”
GoldStar, a South Korean company founded in 1958, was renamed LG Electronics in 1995. Dickey said the Huntsville operation was GoldStar’s first overseas manufacturing facility.
When GoldStar first came to Alabama, “it showed the world that Huntsville is on the map as a location for foreign direct investment,” said Harrison Diamond, business relations manager for the City of Huntsville.
For tech companies like LGEAI in Huntsville/Madison County, Diamond said the future is bright.
“With the investments the community is making in education, workforce development and quality of life, tech companies will have a steady pipeline of talent and the amenities to attract the best and brightest,” said Diamond. “Tech companies all over have to compete for talent, and Huntsville is helping address that issue.”
In recent years, Dickey said LGEAI has strengthened its commitment to the Huntsville community by sending volunteers and holding food drives for the Downtown Rescue Mission to help feed the homeless. LGEAI also hosts on-site quarterly blood drives and participates in the Alabama Adopt-a-Mile and Salvation Army Angel Tree programs. The company is also a regular contributor to the Liz Hurley Ribbon Run in support of breast cancer awareness and prevention.
LGEAI plans to capitalize on Huntsville’s growing population of transplant and native workers as it expands its reach throughout the U.S.
“That (growth) makes Huntsville a unique area within Alabama and because of that, there’s an opportunity to hire exceptional talent,” Dickey said. “That helps us acquire some of the best talent out there, not only here locally, but all across the country.”