History of Maytag in Newton, Iowa

Frederick L. Maytag joins forces with George W. Parsons and two brothers-in-law to form a farm equipment company (The Parsons Band Cutter and Self Feeder Company) to manufacture threshing machine feeders in the small farm town of Newton, Iowa. Because the business was seasonal, the company began manufacturing clothes washers.

Maytag introduces its first washer, a wooded tub model called the “Pastime.” Maytag’s next model, the “Hired Girl,” followed in 1909, the same year F.L. Maytag acquired the company and gave it his name.

Maytag fills a vital need by introducing the first gasoline-powered engine attached to a washer.

Maytag is making one out of every five American washers, and between 1922 and 1926, washer production increased by 300 percent.

Maytag produces its millionth washer. The enthusiasm carried into the 1930s. Fred Maytag died in 1937, and his son Fred L. Maytag II, took over the company as it emerged from the Depression years unscathed and never suffering a loss.

Maytag introduces its Master Washer, which had 50 percent more capacity than previous Maytag washers and featured an insulated tub that kept water hot longer.

As Maytag halted washer production during World War II to produce special components for airplanes, tanks and other military equipment, Maytag employees used war bonds to purchase a B-26 bomber dubbed the “Maytag Marauder.” Maytag started making washers again in 1945.

Maytag introduces its first automatic washer, which sold at a retail price of $279.95. Demand was so great that a second manufacturing plant, solely dedicated to the production of automatic washers, was opened. Clothes dryers were added in 1952.

Maytag moves into the burgeoning commercial laundry market. By 1960, some 2,000 Maytag coin-operated stores had opened, and Maytag introduced a washer and dryer electronically activated by a plastic ticket. In 1960, George M. Umbreit became the first non-family member to lead Maytag Company, followed by E.G. Higdon in 1962.

With the introduction of a portable dishwasher in 1967 and a line of food waste disposers in 1968, the company expands its product line. By 1970, the Maytag name had become synonymous with quality.

Maytag acquires Hardwick Stove Company, thus entering the cooking appliance field with gas and electric ranges, microwave and wall ovens and cooktops. Also in 1981, the company began its transition into a multi-billion dollar company. In 1982, Jenn-Air came aboard, bringing downdraft grill ranges into the Maytag product line.

Maytag introduces its first full-sized computerized stacked washer and dryer for the home, requiring one half the floor space of a regular side-by-side unit and featuring state-of-the-art touch control operation. Daniel J. Krumm became the chairman and chief executive officer of the Maytag Corporation in 1986.
In 1989, Maytag Corp. acquired Chicago Pacific Corporation, which was composed of Hoover North America, Hoover Europe, Hoover Australia and six furniture companies.

Leonard A. Hadley was named chairman and CEO in 1992. When Hadley took the helm, annual sales were $2.99 billion. By 1998, Maytag’s sales were $4.07 billion — growth of more than 35 percent.

Maytag celebrates 100 years of success and quality, rededicating itself to the company’s long-time mission: “To provide customers with products of unsurpassed performance that last longer, need fewer repairs and are produced at the lowest possible cost.”

Maytag Corporation rolled out an unprecedented number of new products throughout 1997, including new Maytag and Jenn-Air refrigerators, Maytag Neptune washers and dryers, Hoover WindTunnel upright vacuums and Hoover SteamVac Ultra carpet extractors.

The Newton community is abuzz with negative reports of Maytag from analysts, worker strikes and layoffs of union and non-union employees.

Maytag receives a buyout offer from private investment group Ripplewood Holdings LLC. A Chinese appliance manufacturer — Haier America, a subsidiary of Haier Group Ltd. — also presented an offer but dropped its bid two days after Whirlpool Corp. jumped into the bidding with a $1.37 billion offer.

On March 31, Whirlpool completes its acquisition of Maytag Corp. and company officials say they will immediately begin integrating the two appliance companies.

Whirlpool announces it will pull the plug on all Maytag operations in Newton in the coming months.


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