GE Current heads back to Cleveland, names two top managers (UPDATED)

March 10, 2020
Bye-bye Boston HQ, as the now privately-owned company returns to its roots.

GE Current has ping-ponged its headquarters back to Cleveland from Boston, a denouement in the saga of a company that has pulled back from a march of all things energy and digital, to one drawing on its industrial heritage as it refocuses on lighting products and on intelligent controls for lighting and buildings.

The four-and-a-half-year-old company, now part of New York private investment firm American Industrial Partners, revealed the move at the bottom of a press release announcing the appointment of a new sales boss, Donald “Chip” Taylor, who joins as its new chief commercial officer working from Cleveland.

Taylor comes over from Cooper Lighting where he was vice president of channel sales. He makes the jump following Eaton Corp.'s $1.4 billion sale of Cooper to Signify. Taylor replaces previous sales boss Deron Miller, who held the title chief revenue officer and who left late last year. A Current spokesperson told LEDs Magazine that with Taylor's appointment, “The role has been tweaked to put even more emphasis on customer relations.”

In another management move, Current has promoted Melissa Wesorick from leader of product management to chief product and marketing officer, reporting to CEO Manish Bandhari, the spokesperson told LEDs. Bandhari joined in December.

New York City-based American Industrial Partners (AIP) acquired Current from GE nearly a year ago. It continues to use the GE name under license, and has re-dubbed the company GE Current, a Daintree company. GE had called the company Current, powered by GE.

The new AIP-given name reflects the importance of networking and control technology from Daintree Networks, a company that Current acquired in 2016 when GE still owned Current.

The paring back of Current from what was to have been an overarching energy and services company tying lights, solar panels, electric car chargers, batteries, and so forth into one focused more strictly on lighting and building systems started soon after GE ballyhooed its new startup back in October 2015.

Current was GE's bold attempt at making LED lighting a viable business by establishing it as an important pillar in a bigger scheme that ultimately did not work. LEDs has chronicled the many trials and tribulations along the way, as GE shed various aspects one by one. All the while, it continued to keep its feet in traditional businesses like fluorescent lighting, although it refrained from publicizing those operations as it preferred to project a shiny, modern digital image.

Once AIP got hold of Current, it made things more clear that Current, while still providing digital lighting and building controls, would also very much be in the good old business of commercial and industrial luminaires and fixtures.

The move back to Cleveland, from which Current headquarters decamped in 2016 and which is the longtime home of GE Lighting another lighting group and one still owned by GE if nothing else symbolically reaffirms AIP's intentions to focus more on tangibles while drawing an end to the pie-in-the-sky days of Current, powered by GE.

GE moved Current to Boston in 2016, as part of GE's relocation of longtime corporate headquarters there from Fairfield, CT. It was all part of a heady notion led by then-GE CEO Jeff Immelt to tap into the university-rich Boston area and  “an ecosystem that shares our aspirations.” Immelt singled out Current along with other operations including robotics, life sciences, and something called GE Digital as important threads in the Boston headquarters, which would place a whole new emphasis on innovation and underpin a “GE Digital Foundry.”

GE itself has curtailed the scope of its Boston headquarters over the last year amid declining corporate fortunes.

Under AIP, Current will continue to employ people in Boston, while headquarters now officially resides back in Cleveland, which had continued to house the bulk of Current employees while not being the headquarters. Now it will be both headquarters as well as the site of Current's “strongest presence,” the spokesperson said.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

*Updated Mar. 11, 2020 at 12:00 PM for additional company detail and a name correction. LEDs Magazine regrets the error.