Whirlpool: Integration settled within 30 to 60 days

Whirlpool: Integration settled within 30 to 60 days
 
Date April 05, 2006
Section(s) Local News
Brief  
 
By ANDY KARR

NDN Staff Writer

Newton must continue to wait to learn the fate of Maytag operations in the community. Whirlpool officials visited Newton on Tuesday, to begin the process of integrating the two companies after completing the purchase of Maytag last Friday.

“We tried to really learn what the new company is all about and how we’re going to operate going forward,” said David Swift, president of Whirlpool’s North America division, addressing media at DMACC. Swift spoke in a cooking classroom filled with Jenn-Air appliances, one of the brand names Whirlpool acquired through purchasing Maytag. Swift said the Maytag brands would “absolutely” continue to be used, even though the company is no longer an independent entity.

Swift offered no new information on what would become of the Maytag‘s salaried workforce at Maytag headquarters or union employees at Maytag plant 2. He only said that Whirlpool would move quickly to determine how to integrate the merged companies. The decision will come in 30 to 60 days.

“We are going to be making decisions based on data,” he said, adding that Whirlpool wanted to communicate its intentions clearly throughout the process.

That communication began Tuesday morning, when Whirlpool officials met with Maytag employees at Newton Senior High School and welcomed them into the merged company with new name badges and a letter from Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig. The meeting included a question and answer session.

Later in the day, Whirlpool met with local and state government officials to get a better understanding on how the two entities can work together in the future.

Government officials hope incentives can help keep Whirlpool jobs in Newton and Iowa. Maytag employed about 4,000 jobs in the state.

Newton Mayor Chaz Allen attended the meeting with company officials Tuesday. He categorized the meeting as preliminary, laying the foundation for future discussions on what the state has to offer Whirlpool.

“(Tuesday’s) meeting is another step in the process of developing our relationship with the Whirlpool Corporation and its management team,” Allen said. “Building on the listen-only meeting in Chicago, today’s meeting with Mr. Swift, president of Whirlpool’s North American operations, was a sign of Whirlpool’s commitment to working with state and local officials.

“I look forward to future meetings to work with the Whirlpool Corporation on its plans for Newton and the State of Iowa.”

Allen has said government officials have compiled a list of things Newton and Iowa have to offer Whirlpool, including potential grant money and a highly-skilled experienced workforce. Allen expects more meetings with Whirlpool in the near future.

Friday, Whirlpool closed a $2.6 billion deal to purchase Maytag — making the 113-year old Newton-based company a subsidiary of Whirlpool. The merger makes Whirlpool a $20 billion company and the largest appliance manufacturer in the world. On Monday, Maytag CEO Ralph Hake stepped down, ending his tenure at the helm of Newton’s largest employer.

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