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Rheem® Opens New Fort Smith Innovation Learning Center

Launch of $5M training facility features Rheem’s leaders, state and local officials, showcases impact of investment for the trade and local communities

Senior Vice President and General Manager Rheem U.S. Air Conditioning Division Kevin Ruppelt speaks of Rheem’s ongoing commitment to education, innovation and quality

ATLANTA, Oct. 12, 2023 Rheem®, a leading global HVACR and water heating manufacturer, celebrated the grand opening of its cutting-edge Innovation Learning Center (ILC) in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The ribbon-cutting event, inclusive of speeches given by Rheem leadership, Senior Vice President and General Manager Rheem U.S. Air Conditioning Division Kevin Ruppelt and Fort Smith-based Rheem Director of Operations Andrew Welch, followed by remarks from Mayor George McGill and an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the facility and lab, and company-wide picnic, marked this momentous occasion on Thursday, Oct. 12.

“Today, we not only celebrate the opening of this Innovation Learning Center, but we also commemorate a significant milestone for Rheem, the state of Arkansas, and the city of Fort Smith. This center, spanning over 3,700-square-feet of showroom and classroom space, along with over 7,000-square-feet of conference rooms and office space, stands as a beacon of progress and learning,” said Ruppelt. “This achievement is a testament to the dedication, collaboration, and innovative spirit that defines Rheem.”

The Fort Smith Innovation Learning Center highlights Rheem’s ongoing commitment to education, innovation and quality. This $5 million investment in the local community

The ribbon cutting ceemony

boasts an impressive 10,000-square-foot facility designed to cater to the diverse training needs of both Rheem’s air conditioning division and water heating division specialists.

“We are committed to being active participants in the Fort Smith community. The skills and knowledge gained here will not only benefit our employees but will also be a driving force in strengthening our local economy,” said Welch. “We hope to inspire our local young people to see a future for themselves and their families by working in manufacturing and skilled trades.”

This multifunctional center serves as an immersive environment, inviting HVAC and plumbing contractors, wholesalers, specifiers, engineers and others to directly engage with Rheem’s comprehensive range of residential and commercial HVAC systems, as well as water heating products. The ILC is equipped with cutting-edge technology to facilitate various training sessions, conferences, seminars, workshops, and other events.

The classrooms within the ILC have been meticulously designed to provide interactive learning experiences, equipped with state-of-the-art technology for seamless live audio and video streaming. Rheem has a specialized hands-on classroom that comes equipped with tools and utility connections, allowing for demonstration installations and diagnostic training.

The launch of the ILC was part of a larger Rheem investment, more than $20 million, in supporting the growth, learning and development of the trade industry and in the Fort Smith community. Rheem’s Fort Smith facility has been a cornerstone of its U.S. air conditioning business unit and HVAC equipment manufacturing for more than five decades. This substantial commitment seamlessly aligned with Rheem’s overarching 10-year strategy to invest in fostering growth, leading through innovation and fulfilling its commitments to its customers.

For more information on Rheem’s training, please visit

About Rheem®

Founded in 1925, Rheem Manufacturing is a global leader committed to delivering innovative products that save energy and support a more sustainable future. Rheem is the only manufacturer in the world that produces heating, cooling, water heating, pool & spa heating and commercial refrigeration products, and is America’s #1 water-heating brand with products available in more than 80 countries. Paloma Co., Ltd. of Nagoya, Japan, acquired the iconic Rheem brand in 1988, and today the company’s portfolio of premium brands include Rheem®, Ruud®, Friedrich®, Raypak®, Sure Comfort®, WeatherKing®, Eemax®, Richmond®, IBC™, Intergas®, Splendid®, Solahart®, EverHot®, and MHG™, as well as commercial refrigeration brands Russell®, Witt®, ColdZone® and Kramer®, which are part of the Heat Transfer Products Group (HTPG®) division.  





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Informing & Supporting
Conditioning Air Professionals
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