Boswell, state officials meet with Maytag today

Boswell, state officials meet with Maytag today
 
Date May 06, 2005
Section(s) Local News
Brief  
 
By DAVID PITT

Associated Press Writer

Executives of Maytag Corp. will meet with Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, and the state’s economic development director today to discuss the company’s future in the state, the congressman’s office said.

Boswell coordinated the 2 p.m. meeting, which will not be open to the public or press, to discuss firsthand with Maytag CEO Ralph Hake comments made last month indicating manufacturing could be halted in Newton.

“We must immediately take more aggressive steps to improve our cost position by reducing our manufacturing footprint,” Hake said, noting that a manufacturing restructuring effort will be undertaken.

Boswell invited state officials, local economic developers and other members of the state’s congressional delegation to the meeting.

“We’ll be discussing any way we can work together to retain and even increase jobs at Newton,” said Boswell spokesman Eric Witte.

Iowa Department of Economic Development Director Mike Blouin said the goal is to keep the Maytag jobs in Iowa.

“I think everybody involved in this is trying to find some way to help,” he said. “Maytag has been a fixture in this state since its inception and we don’t want to lose it.”

Nearly 1,300 production workers at Maytag‘s flagship laundry plant, which makes Neptune and Atlantis model washers and the Dependable Care line, would lose their jobs if the plant is shut down.

Hake said the company was studying the cost of operating plants in Newton and in North Canton, Ohio, and suggested production may be moved to lower cost factories.

The company announced on April 22 first-quarter profits at half analysts’ expectations and slashed in half its full-year forecast.

Shares tumbled 27 percent after Maytag reported earnings of $7.7 million, or 10 cents per share. That’s well below the estimate of 20 cents per share from analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

Maytag reported earnings of $38.7 million, or 49 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Blouin said the company is trying to survive in an increasingly competitive industry.

“It’s a serious battle that they’re in,” he said. “If we could help tip that scale toward Iowa it’s clearly well worth doing.”

Maytag spokesman John Daggett declined to comment on the upcoming meeting.

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