Private investors are buying Maytag for 1.1 billion dollars. The private investment group, led by a New York-based firm, will pay stockholders $14-a-share and take over $975-million in debt. Newton’s mayor says the sale isn’t necessarily a signal Maytag operations in Newton will be shut down. “It sounds like Maytag’s going from being a public company to a private company again,” says Newton Mayor Chas Allen. “Maytag started out as a private company and I’m just not sure what this means yet until we get more information both from Maytag management and the new company that will own (Maytag).” Maytag was founded in Newton in 1893. The company started out as a farm implement manufacturer. Its first washing machine was sold in 1907. Its first power washer — the Hired Girl — was introduced in 1909 and by 1924, one out of every five American washers was a Maytag. Today, Maytag still makes washing machines and other household appliances like Hoover vacuums and Jenn-Air ranges. It has struggled recently with rising steel prices and competitors offering lower-priced goods. Albert Sudbrock of Newton worked at the Maytag plant in Newton for seven-and-a-half years until he was laid off last September. “All of us really expected this place to go away,” Sudbrock says. “The news, as far as I’m concerned, can only be bad. None of us expected it to be good news.” Both Sudbrock and his wife used to work at the plant. He now has another job and his wife is studying to be a nurse. “We started moving on in September when I got laid off a second time because we pretty much figured that we wouldn’t be back,” Sudbrock says. His wife now works part-time at the Casey’s store that’s across the street from the plant in Newton, and she told him workers who stopped in the store after their shift change weren’t surprised. “I guess we knew it was coming. It’s just something that we knew was going to happen sooner or later,” Sudbrock says. He’ says workers are resigned about what’s happening. “Most people still believe that even with new ownership that this plant out here will still go away,” Sudbrock says. But Newton’s Mayor, Chaz Allen, isn’t ready to throw in the towel. He says, “We just want to sit down and talk with Maytag and maybe its new owners to find out what’s in store for Newton. Maytag started out as a private company and this just simply takes them back to being a private company. I don’t know that (the sale) changes anything yet, but we want to find that out.” A Maytag statement indicated the sale would be completed by the end of the year.
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