Whirlpool execs visit; Hake resigns

Whirlpool execs visit; Hake resigns
 
Date April 04, 2006
Section(s) Local News
   
 
By JESSICA LOWE

NDN Staff Writer

Meetings continued with the top executives of Whirlpool Corp. today in Newton, just four days after Whirlpool sealed the deal on the purchase of rival Maytag Corp.

David L. Swift, president of Whirlpool’s North America division, was set to arrive in Newton to meet with employees, city and state officials Monday and today.

An employee-only informational meeting was scheduled at 10 a.m. today. Approximately 20 buses transported employees from Maytag headquarters to the Newton Senior High School auditorium for the meeting with Whirlpool executives.

A meeting between Whirlpool executives, city officials and representatives from the Iowa Department of Economic Development also is scheduled for 2 p.m. today at DMACC’s Newton campus. The meeting is to be followed by a press conference at 4 p.m.

“We’re diving now deep into the integration process,” said Steve Duthie, Whirlpool spokesperson. “We were still competitors until the deal went through and were not allowed access to a lot of information.”

Newton Mayor Chaz Allen said he was ready to meet with Whirlpool officials to discuss the integration of the two Fortune 500 companies and what the city could offer Whirlpool.

“I’m just going to continue to build upon the relationship we started in Chicago and to find out (Whirlpool’s) needs,” Allen said Monday.

Jennifer Mullin, spokesperson for Gov. Tom Vilsack’s office, said the governor will not be meeting with Swift but called and spoke with Whirlpool officials last week. Mullin said in Vilsack’s place will be representatives from the Iowa Department of Economic Development.

“(Gov. Vilsack) made it clear that he wants those Maytag jobs to stay in Iowa,” Mullin said. “He also made it very clear to the Department of Economic Development to make available every economic development tool (to Whirlpool).”

Tina Hoffman, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development, said the meeting slated for today was the first opportunity to speak with Whirlpool about what the state is willing to do to keep jobs in Iowa.

“We will be talking about Iowa’s business climate, the great workforce in the state, the kinds of tools the state has to offer in creating and maintaining jobs,” Hoffman said.

Whirlpool executives also were meeting with local union leaders and local officials in North Canton, Ohio, today to discuss the fate of the Hoover Co., according to a report from the Akron Beacon Journal.

As Swift was scheduled to arrive in Newton and the merger of Maytag and Whirlpool progressed, Maytag‘s chairman and CEO Ralph Hake announced his immediate resignation Monday.

“I will not be staying with the company — by choice — as Whirlpool already has the leadership required,” Hake said in a statement during a conference call with Whirlpool executives. “I have many things I still want to pursue and accomplish in life, and this gives me the opportunity to move on to the next chapter.”

Hake, who sold his home in Newton last month, has a change of employment package that awards him more than $12 million in the event of significant changes in job duties.

Hake joined Maytag in June 2001 after leaving Flour Corp. as chief financial officer. Before that, he held executive positions at Whirlpool for 12 years. Duthie said no other executive departures were immediately expected.

“These meetings are just now getting under way. Over the course of the next four to eight weeks, you’ll be seeing some adjustments,” he said.

Whirlpool completed the $2.6 billion purchase of Maytag on Friday and company officials said they would begin the process of integrating the two companies.

The merger made Maytag a wholly owned subsidiary of Whirlpool and ended Maytag‘s 113 years as an independent company.

Company officials have said they plan to release details of how the merger will affect Maytag operations and workers in about 60 days.

Associated Press Business Writer David Pitt contributed to this story.

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