Archive for the ‘News Stories 2006’ Category

Judge dismisses lawsuit against former Maytag CEO Ralph Hake, others

July 11, 2006
Judge dismisses lawsuit against former Maytag CEO Ralph Hake, others
Date July 11, 2006
Section(s) Local News

AP Business Writer

DES MOINES — A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a New York investment adviser against Maytag Corp. and its former chief executive and chief financial officer.

Barry Yellen, an investment adviser for trust and retirement funds, accused former Maytag chairman and CEO Ralph Hake and former CFO George Moore of deceiving the public about the company’s business outlook last spring.

The lawsuit, filed in July in U.S. District Court in Des Moines, alleged that the deception in March 2005 prompted thousands of people to buy the company’s stock at artificially inflated prices that later plummeted.

New York attorney Ralph Stone said Monday that Yellen will likely take the case to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We’re still looking at the decision, but an appeal is anticipated,” he said.

The lawsuit alleged that Hake and Moore were trying to increase the purchase price of the company because they were trying to sell Maytag and they both owned thousands of shares of Maytag stock.

Court documents said Hake had 789,438 shares of company stock and Moore held 88,187 shares.

The lawsuit focuses on public comments made by Hake and Moore at the March 7, 2005, Raymond James Institutional Investors Conference in Orlando, Fla., and other events. The executives said they expected Maytag to earn between $1.10 and $1.30 per share in 2005.

After the statements, Maytag shares rose, closing at $15.93, up from $14.70 the previous business day.

The lawsuit said that on April 22, 2005, the company publicly changed its business forecast, announcing first-quarter financial results and lowering its 2005 earnings forecast to a range of 45 to 55 cents a share.

Shares closed that day at $10.89, down from $15.10 the previous day.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants knew in February 2005 that internal forecasts had been reduced to less than $1 a share.

According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Maytag board and management discussed earnings forecasts of 97 cents to $1.77 on Feb. 10, 2005.

Attorneys for Maytag, Hake and Moore said Maytag‘s public forecasts were consistent with forecasts discussed internally at private board meetings. They also claimed they had included cautionary language in their forecasts that warned investors that numerous factors could affect earnings.

Yellen had sought class-action status on behalf of all buyers of Maytag stock between March 7 and April 21, 2005.

U.S. District Judge Robert W. Pratt concluded in his ruling filed Friday that Yellen had not provided sufficient facts to show that Hake and Moore knew that their public statements were false or misleading.

Pratt said Yellen’s claim failed under the requirements of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act.

Pratt found that the public announcements made by Hake and Moore were accompanied by the required cautionary statements indicating that earnings results could differ from those discussed. Those statements entitled the executives immunity from liability under federal law, Pratt ruled.

Hake and Moore left Maytag after the company was sold to larger rival Whirlpool Corp. in March. Maytag stock is no longer traded since it is now a subsidiary of Whirlpool.


Former Maytag vice president appointed to Lennox post

July 11, 2006
Former Maytag vice president appointed Lennox International’s new controller
Date July 11, 2006
Section(s) Business
DALLAS — Lennox International announced the pending retirement of Dave Inman, vice president, controller, and chief accounting officer, and the appointment of Roy Rumbough, formerly vice president, corporate controller for Maytag Corporation, to assume Inman’s responsibilities.

The transition will begin immediately with Inman serving in an advisory and support role through the end of this year, at which point he will retire from LII.

“Dave’s plans to accelerate his retirement are understandable given recent events involving personal family matters,” said Sue Carter, chief financial officer. “We are especially grateful he has planned to assist Roy during the transition of his responsibilities. Roy brings a number of excellent qualifications and deep experience to his new position, but he and LII will undoubtedly benefit greatly from Dave’s support through the end of this year.”

Rumbough was most recently vice president, corporate controller of Maytag Corporation, a position he held since June 2002. His 17-year career at Maytag included internal audit, financial planning and analysis, and business unit controller roles. Prior to his career at Maytag, Rumbough was a senior auditor with Deloitte and Touche.

He received his bachelor of arts degree in accounting from North Carolina State University, and his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

“Roy has extensive financial leadership experience in appliance manufacturing, acquisitions and international operations, all of which will serve us extremely well in his new position,” Carter said.

Inman’s long and successful career at LII spanned 28 years, during which he was appointed to financial leadership positions of increasing responsibility. He was appointed vice president, controller for Lennox International in 2001.

“While we will certainly miss working with Dave, we welcome Roy’s expertise and look forward to his guidance and leadership in the years ahead,” Carter said.

Operating in more than 100 countries, Lennox International Inc. is a global leader in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration markets.

Jacob North to close Newton operation today

June 29, 2006
Jacob North to close Newton operation today
Date June 29, 2006
Section(s) Local News


Today is the last day on the job for 15 employees at Jacob North Printing after the Lincoln, Neb.,-based company decided to close its Newton operation.

Charlie Calhoun, president and CEO of the privately-owned printing company, said the decision to close the Newton facility was based on “current economic conditions.” He declined to elaborate but Jacob North, which has been located at different sites in Newton since the late 1980s, did a significant amount of printing work for Maytag.

Calhoun said the printing company’s 10,000 square-foot facility in the Newton Industrial Park will be put on the market for sale. He said that a determination on the equipment in the building had yet to be made.

In addition to its operations in Lincoln, Neb., Jacob North has operations in Omaha, Neb., and Kansas City, Mo.

Maytag employees attend career fair

June 28, 2006
Maytag employees attend career fair
Date June 28, 2006
Section(s) Local News
Special to the Daily News

Whirlpool, working with Right Management, coordinated a career fair for Maytag employees recently at the DMACC facility in Newton.

The career fair hosted more than 70 local and regional businesses seeking to fill positions at their respective companies. More than 250 Maytag employees attended the fair.

“The career fair provided an excellent opportunity for Maytag employees to conveniently and effectively showcase their skills with companies in and around the state,” said Kim Miller, director, employee relations, Whirlpool. “Typically a career fair will generate interest from about 20 to 25 companies and this one had over 70 represented businesses. This speaks highly of the reputation and tremendous available skill of Maytag employees who are now beginning to pursue new career opportunities.”

Companies participating in the event represented a wide range of employment opportunities from manufacturing and financial services, to insurance and healthcare. Employees that attended the fair were encouraged to talk with employers about current openings at their company, as well as learn of employment trends and what employers are looking for in a prospective candidate.

Many Maytag employees who attended the fair have been participating in job search and career transition classes sponsored by Whirlpool. In early May, Whirlpool established a Career Resource Center and engaged Right Management, the world’s largest career transition firm, to assist displaced Maytag workers. Through the Career Resource Center Maytag employees receive assistance in all aspects of a job search.

Lori Day, director, Right Management’s Career Resource Center stated, “We are proud to be partnering with Whirlpool and to be able to offer assistance to Maytag employees through opportunities such as the career fair. We want to do all that we can to assist these employees in their career transition.”

Given the high level of interest demonstrated by both Maytag employees and participating business representatives, Miller indicated that an additional career fair event will likely be held during the fall.

Whirlpool adds Meredith exec to its board

June 21, 2006
Whirlpool adds Meredith exec to its board
Date June 21, 2006
Section(s) Business
DES MOINES (AP) — Whirlpool Corp. announced Tuesday that it has appointed Meredith Corp. chief executive William T. Kerr to its board.

Kerr’s appointment increases the Whirlpool board to 14.

Kerr, 65, is Des Moines-based magazine publisher Meredith’s board chairman and CEO.

Meredith publishes 25 subscription magazines including Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies’ Home Journal and about 200 special interest publications. Its broadcast division owns 14 television stations.

Kerr also serves on the board of Principal Financial Group, a Des Moines-based insurance and financial services company. He also was a member of the Maytag Corp. board prior to the company’s sale to Whirlpool in March.

“Bill’s broad business and consumer background make him a valued addition to our board,” said Jeff M. Fettig, Whirlpool’s chairman and CEO.

Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool has sales of more than $19 billion and employs more than 80,000 workers. Its brand names include Maytag, KitchenAid, Whirlpool and Amana.

Whirlpool shares closed 21 cents lower at $79.16 on the New York Stock Exchange. Meredith shares closed 38 cents lower at $48.29.

County’s population up slightly

June 21, 2006
County’s population up slightly
Date June 21, 2006
Section(s) Local News


Jasper County’s population saw modest growth in the past five years even in the face of huge job losses at Maytag during that time period.

The county’s population grew an estimated 1.2 percent from April 2000 to July 2005, according to U.S. Census Bureau information released today. The new figures give Jasper County a population of 37,674, up 461 people from the 2000 census report.

Jasper County’s rate of growth is slightly lower than the state’s overall population gain of 1.4 percent. Iowa had an estimated population of 2,966,334 in July 2005 compared to 2,926,324 five years earlier.

Newton’s population was stagnant during the time period, gaining just five people from the 2000 census estimate of 15,602. However, during that time period as many as 2,000 jobs were lost at Maytag‘s Newton factory and its corporate headquarters site.

Residents moving into rural areas of the county accounted for most of the population growth. Rural residential populations rose 2.6 percent from 12,367 to 12,687, an increase of 320 people.

Among incorporated cities, Prairie City saw the largest numerical and percentage increase over the five-year period. The community located along Jasper County’s western edge adjacent to Polk County grew 4.3 percent, from 1,365 to 1,424, an increase of 59 individuals over the time frame.

Monroe added 30 new residents while Kellogg grew by 21. Only Sully (down 16) and Lambs Grove (down 7) saw population declines during the time frame.

The census data showed that most of the growth in the state occurred in and adjacent to Iowa’s largest communities of Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Altoona, for instance, grew nearly 25 percent during the five-year time span, adding more than 2,500 people to its population base. Ankeny added nearly 9,500 residents, growing 34.5 percent.

Culver, Edwards visit with Maytag workers

June 13, 2006
Culver, Edwards visit with Maytag workers
Date June 13, 2006
Section(s) Local News

NDN Staff Writer

Less than a week after winning the primary as the Democratic nominee for Iowa’s top office, Chet Culver visited Newton alongside the 2004 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Sen. John Edwards.

Culver and Edwards were greeted by members of UAW 997 and community members at the local union hall, where the pair discussed Culver’s platform and the effect the closing of Maytag will have on workers, their families and the entire Newton community.

“My heart really goes out to each of the displaced workers and their families,” said Culver of the Maytag employees. “My commitment as governor is that I will fight every day for (displaced workers).”

Culver said he would work to help ease the transition process, begin a Displaced Workers Union, create a supplemental health program and restructure the re-education process.

“The biggest challenge is matching skills and interests to jobs available in the area. I’ve heard of too many stories that people go through the education programs, work hard, do well, get a degree of some sort and nothing is available,” Culver said.

Edwards backed Culver’s statements and added that changes need to be made in the United States’ trade policy to help American workers compete in a global economy. He also said there was a need for the federal government to recognize the importance of and to help the working men and women like those at Maytag.

“I would start by saying our government, both the state and federal government, need to recognize the men and women who have worked a job for 20 years, supported their families and are now 45, 50 years old and out of work deserve a little respect,” he told the audience. “The real starting place is a trade policy that recognizes the American worker should have the right to compete.”

Culver also discussed other major issues in his platform, including protecting women’s health care choices, enforcing laws currently “on the books” regarding illegal immigration, raising teacher pay to the national average and making college education attainable to lower and middle class individuals. Along with making a statewide scholarship pool that would be initiated in 2008 if he is elected, Culver said he supports programs like the Newton Promise that will make college accessible to everyone.

“I think any program at state or local level that can help (students) reach their God-given potential is a good one,” he said of the Newton Promise.

City outlines plans to deal with Maytag job losses

June 9, 2006
City outlines plans to deal with Maytag job losses
Date June 09, 2006
Section(s) Local News

NDN Staff Writer

Bryan Friedman’s optimism for Newton’s future shines through every time he speaks before Newton City Council. On Monday evening, Newton’s community development director again showed his enthusiasm in outlining what the future has in store for the community in the wake of Whirlpool’s earth-shattering announcement in May that they would cease all Maytag operations here in 2007.

Friedman has made a habit out of using colorful metaphors when addressing council, whether it be an apple held over his head to demonstrate “Newton’s” law of gravity (to attract development) or the unlikely quote from rapper Eminem that he used Monday.

“We only got one shot. Do not miss our chance or blow this opportunity. It comes once in a lifetime. Yo,” Friedman said to chuckles from the audience.

While a future hip-hop career might be out of the question for Friedman, his never-say-die positive attitude underscores his central message: Newton should focus not just on surviving but also on thriving in the wake of the loss of the largest employer it ever had.

“Even when you see it coming, it still hurts to get socked in the gut,” Friedman said, Monday. “Twenty-six days ago we were socked in the gut, so to speak. when we got that jarring news.”

Before council, Friedman highlighted some of the things that are already occurring in Newton since Whirlpool handed down news of Maytag‘s departure.

Already, there is a job center set up in DMACC facilities — a joint effort between Whirlpool, DMACC and Iowa Workforce Development.

“This center provides a resource for workers who are losing their jobs and provides access to a full array of services from unemployment benefits all the way to retraining information and job fairs,” Friedman said.

He noted that Mayor Chaz Allen was in Washington this week to meet with federal officials about more aid for Newton.

The Newton transformation council has been meeting since October to plan a response to the Whirlpool/Maytag situation. The group consists of officials from Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa Department of Economic Development, Newton Development Corporation, the city, utility companies, congressional officials and Whirlpool officials.

“This group has an ambitious agenda,” Friedman said. “It’s to provide a unified response to mobilize resources to help better the futures of the workers affected by the Maytag pull out, to really focus on the best reuse for the Maytag facilities and to create opportunities for entrepreneurs to be fully supported in starting and accelerating new business opportunities.”

The community is diversifying the economy with the Prairie Fire development area taking shape around the Iowa Speedway. Friedman said the city fields daily calls from around the country inquiring into the development in Newton, including the old Maytag facilities.

“There are some fantastic spaces there,” he said, noting that getting companies to move into those spaces would cost money.

One way to overcome that, he said, is Iowa Values Fund, which last month earmarked $10 million to attract new business to Newton over the next three years.

“With this set aside, special attention has been spotlighted on Newton and I think it will hopefully draw more interest from interested parties for projects,” Friedman said.

To be eligible for those funds, a business must meet Iowa Values Fund criteria, which includes being fully collateralized and meeting a wage threshold of 130 percent of the average county wage. In Jasper County, that is in the $20-an-hour range, Friedman said, but would fall closer to $16 without the inclusion of Maytag jobs. The state also requires a 20 percent local match to access these funds.

Friedman suggested the city start a “Gravity Fund” for the local match dollars and to fund other community investments like infrastructure. And with Newton’s sesquicentennial coming up next year, Friedman likes the idea of forming a committee to hold a showcase celebration for the community.

“It would be fitting to have that milestone year also be a turning point in establishing a new community identity,” he said.

Friedman closed his presentation by calling for the community to stay confident and positive. People should hold family reunions here to show off Newton and attend local events like the Iowa Sculpture Festival at Maytag Park this weekend.

“The last thing we need to do is pull back in fear — back into our shell like a frightened turtle,” he said. “These extraordinary times call for some bold action. If necessity is the mother of invention, then this is a big mother.”

Mayor Allen meets with labor officials

June 8, 2006
Mayor Allen meets with labor officials
Date June 08, 2006
Section(s) Local News

NDN Staff Writer

Newton Mayor Chaz Allen is in Washington this week, meeting with federal officials to discuss the possibility of aid for laid-off Maytag employees.

Allen met with Department of Labor Assistant Secretary Emily Stover DeRocco on Wednesday and said the meetings helped him understand the process of applying for aid.

“It went incredibly well,” Allen said. “They were very receptive and very willing to make the best effort to get what we need.”

Allen said training adjustment assistance possibly could be obtained by applying. That funding would go to Iowa Workforce Development, which would then use it to help displaced Maytag workers receive additional training and learn new skills.

“They’re going to let us apply early,” Allen said.

Today Allen meets with Iowa congressmen Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. Leonard Boswell for further discussions on aid.

Allen said Grassley wants the Department of Labor to send a community action team to Newton to learn firsthand what displaced workers here need.

“The Department and I will host an economic development and community adjustment meeting for city and local leaders, workforce and education professionals, and local economic development partners,” Grassley said in a released statement. “It’s my intention to work with the mayor and have this meeting scheduled as soon as possible so we can get the Newton community the assistance they need.”

New Meisner owner hopes to power up growth

June 5, 2006
New Meisner owner hopes to power up growth
Date June 05, 2006
Section(s) Local News

NDN Staff Writer

Meet the new owner of Meisner Electric, Bill Johnson.

Johnson purchased Meisner Electric last month, and he already is hard at work in the company’s Newton headquarters at 200-C N. Eighth Ave. E. An electrician by trade, Johnson has some big plans for his new company, not the least of which is growing Meisner into the largest and best electrical company in the state of Iowa.

Hailing most recently from Texas, Johnson is no stranger to Newton, and his move here marks a homecoming of sorts. Johnson worked for Meisner in the ’70s. Now he comes full circle, returning to the company where he completed the apprenticeship that jump-started his career as an electrician.

“I went through it,” he said. “I can’t really say that there’s a day I regretted going into it. I love what I do.”

Armed with his love for his trade and a desire to grow Meisner, Johnson already is thinking big. The new CEO wants to bump the number of employees from 86 up as high as 150 within the next year and a half.

Johnson believes his company can support that influx of workers, and he thinks laid off Maytag employees are the perfect people to help Meisner reach its potential.

“The Maytagers have a work ethic we’re looking for,” he said. “They are a stable bunch of people that are really battling right now with what they’re going to do.”

Johnson’s solution for laid-off Maytag employees: Train with Meisner to become a licensed electrician, a position Johnson says is in high demand. Meisner offers a four-year apprenticeship through which future electricians learn on the job, earn a salary and take one four-hour class a week. It’s the same program Johnson himself went through and one he highly recommends.

“There’s not too many four-year colleges you can go through, make a decent living and get out without having loans to pay off,” he said.

Johnson admits that an apprentice salary would be a pay cut for a typical Maytag worker, but he adds that Meisner employees learn through varied jobs and earn raises as they work toward journeyman status.

“You learn something new in every job you do,” he said.

In addition to growing Meisner’s operations, Johnson wants to see his company increase its involvement in the community by helping build homes through Habitat for Humanity and working with students through the trades program at Newton Senior High School. Johnson speaks of community service as “the right thing to do.”

Indeed, Johnson talks at length about the importance of strong work ethic and community service. He places high value on those concepts. Walking through Meisner’s headquarters, Johnson is stopped by an employee who tells the new CEO how impressive his son’s work ethic is.

Johnson beams from the compliment.

He says his son, Dallas, 20, has been putting in long hours already at company headquarters. Long-term, Johnson hopes to build the company into a legacy he can pass onto his son.

Short-term, Johnson’s plans to hire new workers and increase community service should increase Meisner’s role in Newton and Iowa.

“I think Meisner Electric in the next two years will be pretty high profile in Newton,” Johnson said.