The president of Whirlpool came to Newton to meet Maytag workers on Tuesday, but wouldn’t talk about their future, saying it’s too early in the process. About 800 people came to a town-hall meeting at the high school, to hear David Swift say he’d expected to find people more apprehensive about the planned merger. He expected a lot more nervousness than he found, and Swift says he was greeted by friendly, smiling people at the town-hall meeting with questions who want to know what’s going on.
Swift says the people of Maytag have been loyal to the company, and Maytag brands are great brands. He says the people of Maytag have a lot to be proud of in their firm’s history. “You don’t become a 100-plus-year-old company by being a ‘so-so’ company.”
While they’ve had their challenges the last couple years, Swift says a lot of it has to do with the changed nature of competition in today’s new industry. He says new entrants into the field have stepped up competition. He says today they have to be focused on costs and Maytag didn’t have the scale to do that. He says employees understand that and hope to see Maytag continue into the future. He had praise for the state and local officials who worked to come up with incentives to keep the plant open in Iowa.
He says he couldn’t have been more pleased with the response by both state and local government, and their willingness to talk to Whirlpool negotiators and put things on the table.
Swift says Maytag’s troubles may be a sensitive subject for Iowa, but their responsiveness and willingness to come forward impressed him. Swift would not talk about the future of the Newton plant or its workforce. Swift met with the mayor of Newton, state officials, and Maytag contract workers bused to the meeting.